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Sam Paice – INWED 2023

In this Women in Engineering series CFMS speaks to female pioneers from across the engineering industry to celebrate their achievements, unlock valuable insight into how best to diversify the industry, as well as inspire the next generation of budding engineers.

Introducing Sam Paice, CEO of the Centre for Modelling and Simulation. Sam’s journey into engineering happened by chance, she embraced the opportunity to step into a new field and bring her unique expertise to the table.

Originally joining CFMS as a Financial Controller, Sam brought her experience in finance and a deep understanding of managing financial operations. Her background in professional services equipped her with strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and a strategic mindset, all of which are valuable qualities for working in engineering.

Sam’s expertise enabled her to navigate the intersection between business and engineering seamlessly, bringing a fresh perspective to the company, as she made valuable contributions. Her ability to bridge the gap between different disciplines within the company allowed for better collaboration, communication, and decision-making. Sam’s professional journey highlights the importance of embracing unexpected opportunities.

What sparked your interest in engineering?

I experienced redundancy from my previous role and recognised this was the ideal time to explore different industries. I came across CFMS and was fascinated by the research they were conducting and the culture of the organisation. Joining the team furthered my appreciation for the essential role engineering plays in problem-solving and driving innovation. This period of transition allowed me to delve deeper into the world of engineering, witnessing firsthand its transformative impact and the potential for groundbreaking solutions.

What is it like to be a woman in engineering? Do you feel that your gender gives you a different perspective and experience from your male counterparts?

Whilst it is clear that some women have experienced challenges in the industry, I consider myself fortunate not to have personally encountered them. Coming from a smaller company I believe it is easier to address some of the barriers and foster a culture of inclusivity and support for everyone.

Research indicates that women have alternative perspectives and problem-solving approaches and having a diverse team leads to innovative solutions. It’s crucial to address the gender imbalance, but also beneficial to embrace diversity in other aspects, such as nationality, social class and apprenticeships. Encouraging more women to pursue STEM careers is a good place to start, we should be nurturing interest and talent from a young age.

What advice do you have for women interested in engineering?

  1. Believe in yourself and have confidence in your abilities and know that you belong in the field.
  2. Connect with other women in engineering through professional organisations, networking events, and online communities.
  3. Seek out mentors who can provide guidance and advice based on their experience and expertise.
  4. Challenge stereotypes. Break down stereotypes and advocate for equality in engineering. Be a role model and inspire others to pursue their passion for engineering.
  5. Be confident in your voice, speak up and contribute your unique perspective and ideas. Your voice matters and diverse viewpoints lead to innovation and problem-solving.

Based on your experience, what advice might you give to your school-age self?

Engineering is a rewarding career path that offers a multitude of opportunities. It’s a vast domain that encompasses more than meets the eye, with various specialisations ranging from civil and mechanical to electrical and aerospace, among many others.

Engaging in work experience placements can be a valuable way to explore potential career options and gain hands-on exposure. These placements can provide firsthand insight into day-to-day tasks, challenges and rewards of specific engineering roles, helping aspiring engineers make informed decisions about their career paths. Don’t hesitate to explore and seek out work experience to discover the possibilities within the field of engineering.

What more do you think needs to be done at an earlier age to cultivate girls’ interest in engineering?

Various avenues are being explored to nurture girls’ interest in engineering, and among them, one stands out as particularly crucial. It involves dispelling the misconception that engineering is solely about factory work. Instead, it’s about problem-solving, taking different forms such as addressing societal issues, improving industry practices, or devising solutions within companies. The key is to inspire girls by demonstrating that engineering offers an opportunity to be part of meaningful change and contribute to problem-solving endeavours.

Encouraging them to embrace this mindset and cultivate a willingness to tackle challenges is essential. By highlighting the impactful nature of engineering, we can empower girls to pursue careers in this field and become agents of positive transformation.

Do you think the sector is doing enough to address gender imbalance within the industry?

While we acknowledge the presence of gender gap issues, there remains a pressing need for further action to address the imbalance. Encouraging and promoting the participation of women in the sector is of utmost importance. We actively take measures to mitigate unconscious bias, such as anonymising CVs during the hiring process. However, despite these efforts, we still receive significantly more applications from men than women. It’s crucial to recognise that this issue is complex and requires a multi-faceted approach. We must continue to strive for gender equality in the sector by implementing comprehensive strategies that foster inclusivity and create opportunities for women to thrive.

Last message:
Your gender should never limit your potential in engineering. Embrace your passion and work hard with determination. The engineering field benefits greatly from diversity!

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