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IWD24 - Women in Engineering


International Women's Day 2024


We always celebrate International Women’s Day at BCAS. It’s often a symbolic gesture such as wearing purple, or eating cake (how we celebrate most things here to be honest). Sometimes it’s something more meaningful, such as an informal discussion in the office on the merits of IWD and the reasoning behind it.


This year however, we thought it would be interesting to look at how campaigns to champion women in the workplace and achieve real equality, have impacted on women who work within the engineering industry.


We asked our female colleagues three questions about the changes they’ve seen and the advice they’d give to young women about to embark on a career in this arena.


The responses were fairly consistent and overall, very positive, but they did imply that there is still room for further improvement in the industry as a whole. Here's what we found out:


Q. How have things changed for women working in engineering since you started your career?

 

All respondents said that they’d seen huge improvements for women: That there are significantly more women in engineering, but most of all, that there is more opportunity for career progression. The perception was that within our own particular arena (compressed air), women were previously restricted to administration or support roles, with no senior positions being held by women. Of course, this is no longer the case, and certainly not at BCAS where today women make up 50% of the leadership team.

 

Q. What would you say are the best changes you have seen?

 

Again, respondents said that in the past, they felt that it was perceived by others within the industry, both male and female, that women would not have the same level of engineering understanding and technical knowledge as a man. The consensus was that this has improved significantly and that they are now judged by their ability, without having to first overcome preconceptions and prejudice.

 

Q. What advice would you give to a young woman about to join the engineering industry?

 

What was interesting about the responses to this question, was that much of the advice was the same as you would give any young person: ‘Be yourself’,  ‘Learn as much as you can’, and ‘Believe in yourself’. On the whole, it was seen that advice didn’t need to be gender-specific, implying that the obstacles that women used to have to navigate to pursue a career within engineering, were no longer of significance.

 

That said, some of the closing comments suggest that women are still expected to adapt to the ‘engineering environment’: ‘Grow a thick skin’ and ‘Keep a sense of humour’ were two such remarks, which hint of a culture that can still be challenging and adversary at times. Although, it’s fair to say that this is unlikely to be exclusive either to women or to engineering.

 

So, according to our small survey, there is much to celebrate this International Women’s Day, and certainly for us here at BCAS. Particularly for the cake lovers among us!

 


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