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International Women in Engineering Day: Sector Response

Today is International Women in Engineering Day! The theme this year is #MakeSafetySeen.

We have received commentary from the sector to celebrate and discuss the day.

Sector Response

Chanda Azam, Engineer Apprentice, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence said:

“International Women in Engineering Day presents a unique opportunity to reflect on progress made in the tech industry, along with the ongoing efforts needed to forge a brighter future for women in STEM. While it’s encouraging to see growing recognition, it is only the beginning. Now is the time to establish a safe space where diversity is both encouraged and celebrated, whether that’s gender, ethnicity or social background. 

“As a DevOps Engineering Apprentice at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, I embarked on an unconventional route into tech at the age of 32, with no prior experience in the field and a two-year-old to care for. Thankfully, I was afforded a flexible-work arrangement that allowed me to balance full-time work and childcare responsibilities. This experience highlighted the crucial importance of equity, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their circumstances, has an equal chance to succeed and thrive. 

“While my personal experience showcases the positive impact of supportive policies and practices, I acknowledge that not everyone has had the same experience. To achieve true equity across the industry, we must  recognise and amplify the different obstacles women have overcome to progress their careers. We, as women in engineering, have the power to share our stories, create awareness and inspire future generations.

“Through my apprenticeship, I discovered the invaluable contributions women bring to the sector. I am determined to play my part in creating similar opportunities and advocating for transformative change.”

Jenny Taylor, Software Engineer, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence said:

“Celebrating the achievements of female engineers is always important, and this International Women in Engineering Day is no exception. As a female software engineer with a non-traditional career path, I have experienced first-hand the importance of creating a space for women of diverse backgrounds, and how they can contribute to the industry’s growth.

“After a decade-long career in law, I had to leave my job due to a chronic illness. When the first lockdown hit, I took the opportunity to explore my creative side and challenge myself intellectually. Having learnt how to develop online escape rooms to entertain my family and friends, I discovered a passion for coding, leading me to a new career. 

“I believe that the industry as a whole is still yet to realise the value that individuals from non-traditional backgrounds bring to the table. Not every skilled software engineer followed a traditional educational path, and success in this field goes beyond coding proficiency. For example, my existing skill set has enabled me to shine in other aspects of the role which are equally important such as problem-solving, attention to detail and presenting our work to stakeholders. Without diversity, organisations risk stagnation, sticking to outdated practices simply because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done.’ 

“Another important piece of the puzzle is changing the culture within organisations. By making conscious recruitment and promotion decisions, offering flexible working conditions and taking active steps to make the workplace safe and inclusive for everyone – women from diverse backgrounds will feel more encouraged to enter the world of STEM and help the sector thrive.”

Jessica Farrell, Software Engineer, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence said:

International Women in Engineering Day holds significant importance for me as a woman in the industry. Engineering was not initially on my radar, as the schools I attended lacked Computer Science courses. However, my passion for engineering was ignited when I studied Neuroscience as a mature student. My tutor piqued my interest in coding and its applications in all industries, encouraging me to pursue my MSc in AI and Data Science and thus, embark on my journey in the engineering world.

“Representation matters, from education to the workplace, and I firmly believe in showcasing alternative routes into engineering, addressing barriers, and supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, overcoming the obstacles that often come with being a woman in a male-dominated industry, such as imposter syndrome, require connecting with other women in the network, seeking mentorship, and engaging in outreach to inspire younger generations. 

“The engineering industry is evolving, acknowledging the need for diversity and inclusion. Initiatives highlighting alternative paths and actively addressing the gender gap are crucial. Visibility of individuals from diverse backgrounds is essential to inspire others. Companies must be receptive to change, actively working to create an inclusive environment.

“I firmly believe that women from all backgrounds and experiences  bring unique perspectives and insights to the engineering industry. A diverse workforce fosters innovation, ensuring that problem-solving solutions resonate with society’s needs. By creating a safe space for women in engineering and accelerating diversity, we can propel the industry forward and drive meaningful change.”

Jessica Mowatt, Senior Software Engineer, 8×8 said:

“On this International Women in Engineering Day, it’s so important to celebrate the invaluable contributions of women in the engineering sector and think about the criticality of diversity in driving innovation and progress.

“Technology is about progress, advancement and innovation, and we can only be successful by ensuring that the minds behind the tech are diverse and have experiences from different walks of life. As a senior software engineer, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that women have on the field and it is inspiring to see more women occupying senior and leadership positions, bringing their unique perspectives to the table. 

“Diversity is not just a buzzword; it is the catalyst for groundbreaking ideas and transformative solutions, therefore, organisations must actively support diversity in engineering. Crucial steps include collaborating with universities to offer graduate programs for aspiring engineers, supporting initiatives that train women to code and help secure their first tech role, and actively recruiting, upskilling and retaining women. Flexibility in the workplace can also help companies to encourage and support women in the industry, meaning they do not have to choose between career and family.

“For women considering a career in engineering, my advice is to be bold and pursue roles that inspire you. Don’t let the fear of not meeting all the requirements hold you back. Embrace your core skills, including effective communication, leadership, adaptability, creativity, and problem-solving. From my experience working as a software engineer in the contact centre space, being passionate about technology and caring for the end user experience is so important and this passion requires no academic abilities.

“Overall, we all need to recognise that diversity is not just a goal; it is an essential ingredient for excellence in society as a whole. We should be celebrating the accomplishments of women in engineering and providing equal opportunities in the industry all year round. Together, let’s build a future where women can thrive and contribute to the exciting world of engineering.”

Aneela NASIM, Growth Industries Lead, EuroNorth, Dassault Systemes said:

It is imperative to actively promote and endorse the participation of women in STEM fields on this year’s International Women’s Engineering Day. Despite the engineering sector advancing in many ways – such as with the shift towards net-zero – it still lacks equal gender representation.

Female engineers are crucial to creating a more balanced and representative workforce and to bring forth a wealth of new perspectives and ideas. By encouraging and supporting women to pursue careers in engineering, we can help to build a more robust, more innovative industry that benefits us all.

By encouraging and empowering women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, we can foster a more equitable and innovative society that leverages the full potential of all its members. This day serves as a reminder of the past women who fought for us to have equal access to pursue our passions, regardless of gender stereotypes. Moving forwards, the industry needs to remain focused on closing the gender gap in STEM – as this will be a key measure of progress and growth for our society as a whole.

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