The engineering workforce unfortunately continues to be dominated by men. According to Engineering UK, only 12% of all engineering jobs are held by women. It is crucial that we address the gender diversity problem in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) fields.
Perceptions are changing, and we want to raise the profile of women in engineering to inspire future generations. Through our attendance at STEM events, our work experience & apprenticeship programmes and our regular feature interviews in our newsletters, we want to promote engineering, empower women and let all girls know that this sector is for everybody. Female role models play a fundamental role in breaking gender stereotypes and inspiring the younger generation to pursue STEM careers.
We want to use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate some of the women in our Group, finding out more about their role, their journey, what challenges they have faced in their careers and some that they still face today. Their stories should show how much further we can go and what we can achieve when our industry is fully inclusive.
Jennifer Finley – Commercial Lead
“I have worked for Shepley Engineers for over 17 years. I started off in office admin before I was offered a position working in the commercial team, where I developed through the ranks to my current position. I chose engineering having lived in Cumbria all my life and understanding the importance of engineering to the surrounding area. I thought working for a well-established engineering firm like Shepley would set me in good stead for a long career.
“Engineering and more specifically Shepley Engineers can offer you a number of working opportunities to start and develop your career in whatever discipline you choose. Engineering as a whole is multi-disciplined, it therefore has a number of opportunities attached to it. If I was starting again, I would have started engineering from leaving school now knowing the possible opportunities that are achievable.”
Megan Kearney – Trainee Project Manager
“When I first left school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I considered looking for a local apprenticeship but in the end I stayed at sixth form. Once I achieved my A Levels, I decided to go to university and study Business Management. I knew business was a versatile subject that could open a lot of doors for me, and it was a subject I always enjoyed at school. During my degree I was required to complete 2 work experience placements. I completed my first one which helped me decide that I wanted to go down the engineering route, and in my second year at university I joined Shepley on a 6-week placement which provided me with the hands-on experience I needed to make my career choices. Once I completed my degree, I was lucky enough to be invited back to work for Shepley full time which was fantastic, and have since been offered a role as a Trainee Project Manager.
“If any girls are thinking of entering the sector, I would say 100% go for it as the engineering industry is a fantastic industry to work in. You would be working with some of the smartest people who are doing things that were unimaginable 10-20 years ago. You are guaranteed to learn and develop so many skills that will help you in your personal and professional life.
Everyday is different and starting a career in engineering doesn’t limit you to a single location as there are so many opportunities in the UK and worldwide. Working in the engineering sector can also be such a rewarding job, you will be working as part of a team on various complex issues to achieve a common goal. The industry is perfect for creative thinkers and problem solvers. The perception of women in engineering and in high authority roles has significantly changed over the years. So, there is no reason not to have a go just because you are a woman. At the end of the day, you go to work to do a job and women can do it just as much as men can. Success is about trying your best and just going for it!”
Kayleigh Watson – Apprentice Welder
“I’m learning something that I never thought I would be learning. Getting the workshop experience and earning a bit of money as well, it’s nice! I get a lot of support, because obviously being a female in this industry can be quite hard. You’re surrounded by a lot of males, and I don’t think a lot of people expect you to be in this type of industry. Here at West Cumberland though, it’s the most females I’ve seen in a workshop. For any girls out there, go for it. Get applying. It’s the best thing I’ve done!”
Rosie Harrison – Bid Coordinator
“I was always interested in working in the engineering industry, however I was not certain on the career path. I began my first role at Shepley as a business admin apprentice working in a project office and this enabled me to gain an understanding of the delivery side of the business. I then had the opportunity to discover different areas of the business, which included bids and proposals. I have a real passion for the future of nuclear engineering and was excited about the opportunity, I was lucky enough to gain a position as a Trainee Bid Coordinator.
“Don’t listen to anyone that tells you you’re not right for the role because of your gender, engineering is for everyone! I think it can be daunting to go into an industry that’s very male orientated, however if we didn’t then we’d never be able to change the gender gap. This industry is exciting, and we need more females to join and bring fresh ideas and ways of working. If you’re considering engineering, go for it. It’s a fantastic industry to be working in, with plenty of room for us all to develop.”