International Women's Day: inspiring young minds with engineering
7 Mar 2023
International Women’s Day once again throws the spotlight on the lack of female representation in the fields such as engineering within the UK. While things are improving, progress remains slow and often significantly behind many developing countries.
A consistent criticism is the lack of visible role models available to inspire girls but also students in general to enter the sector. However a new book by Imperial College London academic and broadcaster Dr Shini Somara plans to help change this.
Her book Engineers Making a Difference is supported by Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Charitable Foundation, together with Imperial College and What on Earth Publishing.
Among the 44 role models are two University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre alumni Beth Cousins (pictured left), now a project engineer at Sheffield AMRC and Kate Todd-Davis (pictured right), a manufacturing engineer for Rolls-Royce.
Cousins, who works within the gears team at the AMRC, part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, said that collaboration, creativity and communication are essential in her job and acknowledges the team in which she works.
She says: “Everyone has different skills and expertise, but we are all passionate about finding solutions. Doing things differently should be encouraged in manufacturing, which is why we need more young people to join the industry.”
Todd-Davis says she enjoys the hands-on approach to learning: “At Rolls-Royce, the mindset is that apprentices are the future of the company, so we are always being taught new things and are given room to be creative.”
Author Somara notes: “I believe that engineers are undercover superheroes, who save lives in many different ways, by building safe bridges, planes, medical equipment and much more. Engineers are crucial for a better future, as they continue to play a major part in slowing climate change.”
To help bring engineering careers into the spotlight further the collaborators of Engineers Making a Difference, are sending out a school kit to every state secondary school in the UK, which includes two copies of the book, a teacher’s guide, 12 posters and a four metre-long timeline wall chart.
Nikki Jones, director of the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre commented: “To have two of our former apprentices feature alongside a variety of other amazing engineers in this book is incredible to see.
“Getting youngsters excited about a career in engineering at this key part of their school journey where decisions are starting to be made about their futures is vital, as it’s here that we begin to look at the people who could be the engineers of the future. It’s great to see a book being created which looks at different engineering careers from a first-person perspective.”