22nd June 2018
Saturday 23 June marks International Women in Engineering Day 2018 (INWED18). To reflect this year’s theme, three Humberside Engineering Training Association (HETA) apprentices are demonstrating how they are ‘raising the bar’ in pursuit of more diversity in engineering.
More than capable
First year apprentices – Hollie Edwards, Katie Cherrell and Courtney Kiss – are bringing attention to the amazing career opportunities available to women. They have already successfully secured placements at Total Lindsey Oil Refinery and Technical Absorbents.
“Gender should no longer be a factor in deciding a career path,” says Hollie. “If you have the capability and right mentality to pursue a career in engineering, then you should do it. Some prejudice does still exist, but we have actually all thrived on this. We hope to help make it a more widely accepted career option for women.”
With an estimated annual shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates, encouraging more diversity in the industry is the key to overcoming this statistic. However, the UK is still behind its European counterparts in recruiting women into the sector.
This is something that Katie hopes events such as INWED18 will overcome: “It is important to promote the women who are building successful careers in the field of engineering. The more they see their peers doing these kind of roles, the more encouraged they will feel to give it a go for themselves.
“When I attended the HETA open day, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of women who were already working in engineering. It gave me a lot of confidence and I knew that I was making the right decision to pursue a career in this field.”
Positive role modelling
Providing positive female role models in industry has contributed to HETA more than doubling its 2018 intake of female apprentices compared to 2017. Its inclusive approach is something that HETA prides itself on across all of its teaching and learning.
“The tutors here at HETA are brilliant,” confirms Courtney. “We are all treated the same, and even though it can be quite physical, they never give you the impression that they think you are not capable of doing something. They will always persuade you to try and do things for yourself.”
For Katie, school played a pivotal role in her decision to seek a career in the engineering industry: “My school exposed us to such topics as women in engineering at an early stage. When I started to show an increasing interest in the subject, they really supported me, and were enthusiastic when I applied to HETA and gained my apprenticeship.”
“Unfortunately, this is not the same experience everywhere,” continues Courtney. “My first school pushed me into subjects more traditionally studied by girls, but luckily I moved to a new school that was more open-minded and enabled me to develop my passion for engineering.”
Courtney is due to join the global leader in the supply of innovative super-absorbent fibre materials – Technical Absorbents Ltd (TAL) – in the summer. “We always recruit the strongest candidates,” explains TAL’s General Manager and Director Mike Parkington. “We are excited by the different insights, approaches and perspectives that Courtney will bring to the role.
“Achieving a gender balance and a more diversified workforce are key elements to driving our business forward. It’s great that initiatives such as INWED18 are attracting more women such as Courtney into engineering, and we are sure that she will have a long and fulfilling career with us.”
The wealth of interesting and varied roles available in engineering has been a real attraction for Hollie: “I never wanted to settle for a job that simply paid the bills. I wanted to push myself to the limit and find out what I am capable of. Which is why I highly recommend engineering as an option.
“If you have even the slightest interest in it, you should go for it. If someone says you can’t, because you’re female – then just do it anyway! I guarantee you will prove them wrong. Don’t let someone else’s prejudice put you off from what you want to do.”
“I absolutely love coming to work,” concludes Courtney. “I wake up in the morning knowing I’m doing something I’m passionate about. No day is ever the same, you are always facing new challenges. The fact that the career prospects and earnings are excellent too makes engineering an amazing option.”