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Shaping the future of engineering

The importance of education, representation and challenging outdated perceptions

To mark International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), CFMS is recognising the remarkable contributions of women across the industry with a series of interviews with female trailblazers, including our very own CEO Sam Paice. Not only shining a spotlight on their achievements, the interviews delve deeper into their experiences and unlock insight into how we can make the engineering industry even more accessible to all.

This year, INWED is centred around “make safety seen” and is designed to highlight the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering, those women who #makesafetyseen and are helping to build towards a brighter future, an incredibly important piece of the puzzle when it comes to future proofing the industry.

Across our series of interviews three very poignant themes have emerged. Here are the top takeaways:

Education inspires and motivates future engineers

It’s clear that despite progress across the industry to address the gender imbalance. Lisa Brodie, the Dean and Head of School of Engineering at the University of the West of England (UWE) says: “We’ve been trying for years to cultivate engineering at an early age but we’re not shifting the dial”.

We need to do more to attract girls from a young age. This could involve visiting schools and offering hands-on experiences for young girls, as well as providing inspiration through visits from female engineers. Teachers too can get involved by exploring the stories of inspirational female engineers from history within their lessons. For many of the women we interviewed, there was a strong sense that there’s much more we can and should be doing to tackle the gender imbalance in engineering.

Here at CFMS, we too recognise the need to capture the imagination of our children at a young age. Education is fundamental to ensure we’re supporting and inspiring future talent within the industry. Our STEM projects run in primary schools across Bristol, featuring interactive, hands-on sessions to inspire children in a fun and meaningful way and demonstrate how we can integrate STEM subjects into our everyday lives.

Employers play an important role in representation and accessibility

Many employers across the UK are working hard to champion women within their businesses. But for the women in this series, whilst of course the bigger picture is important, employers must consider the finer details too that are equally integral to ensuring representation for women in the industry.

Ruth Mallors-Ray, a consultant within the industry says: “Looking at the recruitment process for example and job adverts, and just neutralising the job adverts will start to make a difference.” We need to understand how the impact of the words and language we’re using can play a huge part in the levels of applications from women we might receive, something we’re actively prioritising here at CFMS. We need to ensure we’re using language that is inclusive and gender neutral so we’re attracting both male and female talent.

We need to challenge outdated perceptions in engineering

For many young people, there is a real misconception about what engineering actually is and what a job in engineering would entail. CFMS CEO Sam Paice describes how “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.”

It’s clear from our series of interviews that engineering can encompass multiple sectors and involve multiple applications. But the real question is, do enough school-age children know about the breadth of roles available? At CFMS we look to address this through our internship scheme. Demonstrating what a career in engineering actually involves from exploring robotics and automation, to offering innovative solutions for the aviation sector. Investing in future engineers means lifting the lid on what engineering can be.

Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain

Introducing Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain, AKA the Queen of the Railways! Daisy is a rail expert and serves as the Innovation Manager at East West Rail. With a passion for transport transformation, accessibility, sustainability and inclusion, she strives to make rail travel better. Daisy’s dedication is focused on creating a safer, more accessible, and enjoyable rail experience for everyone.

Kate Barnard

Introducing Kate Barnard, the Founder and Director of a group of rapidly growing and successful companies dedicated to driving science, innovation, and sustainability. Kate also holds Non-Executive Director positions for Syndem. She is a co-founder of Enjoy the Air, driving efforts to understand and improve air quality to reduce health inequalities. She also created and launched the HALO (healthy air level objectives) trademarked certification.

Lisa Brodie

Introducing Professor Lisa Brodie, the Dean and Head of School of Engineering at the University of the West of England (UWE). With a distinguished career as a professional engineer, Lisa has extensive cross-sector expertise, including five years as a Senior Consultant in the aerospace industry. She holds the title of Chartered Engineer and is a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Ruth Mallors-Ray

Introducing, Ruth Mallors-Ray, a consultant facilitating discussions between industry, government and academia. Ruth’s current portfolio spans a range of sectors including manufacturing, aviation and hydrogen. Ruth is a Non-Executive Director of the National Composites Centre offering her wide understanding of innovation, but also diverse sectoral experience.

Sam Paice

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. 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.

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