Perseverance is the key to a great career for women in engineering
Posted on November 21, 2017 by Jenny Stockton-Pugh, UK Recruitment and HR Manager
A quick internet search looking at Women in Engineering pulls out some alarming but predictable statistics when it comes to how many women are pursuing careers in engineering. In a 2015 report it was suggested that ‘only 9% of the engineering workforce is female.*
However change appears to be on the horizon with 15.8% of engineering and technology undergraduates in the UK being female, and up to 30% in India.** There is still some way to go in encouraging women to pursue STEM subjects and a report by McKinsey suggests enabling women to meet their full potential in work could add as much as $28 trillion to annual GDP in 2025.***
Currently at Zenith over a fifth of the workforce are women, and during 2017 25% of new hires on-boarded were women. Although there is still some way to go, for an engineering focused company these statistics are promising.
As part of a new blog series we wanted to take a closer look at some of the women in engineering roles at Zenith. Looking at what inspired them to get into engineering, their experience of working in this industry and what advice they would give to the next generation of women considering a career in a stereotypically male dominated environment.
Emily Clark joined Zenith Technologies five months ago as a Junior MES Engineer. She recently joined the FreeWeigh team and her role encompasses executing Technical Installation Plans (TIP’s) and Technical Installation Records (TIRs) and site visits to help with User Acceptance Testing (UAT). We asked Emily several questions to find out about what attracted her to a career in engineering and more about her time at Zenith.
What is your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in Engineering?
At School my favorite subjects were always the sciences; which is why I chose to do all three: biology, physics and chemistry. I also had a love for Graphic Communication, a subject that included CAD drawings and detailed engineering drawings. Throughout school I always wanted to be a police woman, but as I got to my final years I decided to go to University. At first I didn’t know what to do, so it was actually a career advisor, that put my engineering drawings and sciences together, and came to the conclusion that I could do Chemical Engineering (or any other engineering course).
At first I was skeptical about the idea, of me, a girl, doing engineering, but I have always been one to not follow the norm and so I decided to look into it a bit further. My family were always behind my decision to do engineering and the job prospects looked great. I finally decided I was going to apply to Universities, and four years later I have a BEng Hons Degree in Chemical Engineering.
How do you believe you have developed whilst being at the company & what personal learning opportunities have you experienced?
I have learned a lot since I have started at Zenith. I was given the opportunity to learn with one of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies and take part in their training, so I could work on their projects. Along with this I was taught about FreeWeigh.Net, and was given a detailed insight to how projects work within the business.
The rise of women in engineering is a topical subject at the moment – what are your experiences of the industry from a female perspective and what advice would you give the next generation of female engineers?
For me, being quite new to the world of engineering, I can happily say that I have not had many difficulties in the industry. However, finding a job was hard, and I did begin to think that maybe it was the fact that I was female that was preventing me from securing a role.
Perseverance is key! If you want to be a woman in engineering then (unfortunately) you must fight a bit harder to get it, but the benefits at the end will be worth it. It shouldn’t be this way but there is still a stigma attached to women pursuing a career in engineering, which needs to be broken. A lot needs to be done at school age to break this cycle and encourage more women to focus on STEM subjects as I was. My advice would be to keep fighting through the job applications and failed interviews because you will eventually get to where you want to be. Don’t be scared and put off by expectations of a ‘male dominated field’, because it’s no longer the reality and the more women there are in engineering, the more normal it will become.
What would you recommend to anyone who is thinking about applying for a role at Zenith Technologies?
I would recommend that they do go ahead and apply for a career with Zenith Technologies or pursue careers without focusing on gender stereotypes. I have felt very welcome here in the company and have been treated as an equal by all members of staff, including the male engineers. There are lots of opportunities out there for both men and women but I would certainly be encouraging those who think they can’t go into a career in engineering for whatever reason that they certainly can!