Supporting women in engineering

This International Women in Engineering Day Stannah is talking about the importance and benefits of having equal representation in engineering and the role it is playing to address the imbalance.

Women in engineering are still hugely under-represented; currently in the UK only 16.5% of engineers are women according to the Women’s Engineering Society.

As a leader of lift engineering and with over 150 years of engineering heritage, Stannah believes it has a responsibility to support the women who are taking the jump into engineering careers.

Samantha Johnson, Apprentice Lift Engineer, said, “I’ve always been a lover of all things STEM, from a young age I was always borrowing my brothers Mecano set to play with or reading a book about nuclear power plants. So starting a career in Engineering with Stannah seemed like an opportunity too good to miss!”

For any women looking to get into engineering my advice is take the leap. Be bold, be brave and trust your instincts! “Through its Joseph Stannah Foundation (JSF), Stannah aims to encourage an early interest in STEM subjects working with secondary schools and charities to showcase how these subjects can be applied in fun and exciting ways. The JSF was set up in honour of Stannah’s founder Joseph Stannah, who believed it was the duty of every engineer to share their knowledge with the rising generation.

Mike Newman, Group Learning and Development Manager, said, “Over the past 12 months we have already engaged with a number of schools local to our headquarters in Andover working on varying projects. These have included: an E-Waste Challenge with 250 students; developing wind turbines with nearly 100 students; supporting an afterschool club with building and racing an electric kart in the Green Power Challenge; and building model cable cars and bridges with K-Nex construction kits and craft materials. The pupils ages have ranged from 7 through to 15, and in many cases over 50% have been female. This is encouraging as we are making engineering fun at a formative stage of their lives and helping to fuel this passion.”

This year Stannah was delighted to award a scholarship through the Arkwright programme to Thea Mablethorpe, a student at Guilford High School. Thea has a strong affinity to Mechanical Engineering, is a car enthusiast and is also working towards her Advanced Motoring Test, knowing that safety and engineering are explicitly linked. In the 12 years Stannah has been involved with the scholarship programme, which aims to develop fledgling future leaders in engineering, it is delighted to have been able to award three scholarships to girls in recent years, indicating that more girls are applying to be scholars.

Stannah is also a strong supporter of apprenticeships as a route into a career in engineering. One of its two first year apprentices this year is Christine Reyes, a SETA (Southampton) student, and someone Stannah believes will have a very bright career in engineering.

Christine Reyes said “In secondary school, I enjoyed learning and researching about how various products are designed, developed and manufactured in Design Technology, as well as having a keen interest in maths and physics. In computer science, I developed a skill for problem-solving through learning how to program and from there, I started to create my own programmable circuits as a hobby. I was drawn to engineering because the industry and its technology is constantly changing and improving so I know that I can’t ever get bored!

“I also think that it is important to stress that women and girls who do choose engineering, or other STEM careers, are leading a change in the industry and are positive role models for those who may be hesitant to follow the career that they want to work in. From my perspective, I see that being part of a change in the industry is exciting and I hope to see more girls choose engineering.”

Stannah is a global business operating in 11 countries, employing a number of field and service engineers who are women.

Chloe May, a qualified lift engineer at Stannah said: “I have been with Stannah for four years and prior to that I was in the industry for a further two years. Thankfully I haven’t been faced with any discrimination, but it is a lot of muscle work and determination to prove yourself. It is still a male-dominated industry but I get on with guys so I find it easy to get along and they are all nice and have been helpful and keen to help me learn.

“At the moment, most sites I attend I will be the only female there, but I am seeing more and more women within the engineering industry. It’s definitely more common now and it not as daunting anymore. If you’re interested in the way things work then engineering is for you and any woman that loves hands on work, it’s the way to go. Personally in couldn’t sit in an office, I love the different challenges that come with being an engineer. You’ll always be learning even after qualifying.”

Stannah employs a strategic approach to how it attracts women seeking a career in engineering.

Caroline Johnstone, Talent Acquisition Manager said, “We ensure that our recruitment practices are fair and inclusive to encourage applicants from all backgrounds.

“Engineering is for everyone, and we use the latest job boards, recruitment methods and technology to ensure a diverse talent pool and selection process. From quick and accessible application stages to inclusive interview questions, we aim to provide a sense of belonging, which is crucial in attracting and retaining women in the field.”

Laura Vela-Reyes, Lead Test and Development Engineer, said, “Having good support and training opportunities within work is important. Since I joined Stannah I have been highly supported by my team and my managers have given me a great opportunity to learn new skills and develop my career as an engineer even more.”

Andy Hoath, Head of Engineering, adds, “Having a diverse team is a key element to designing great products. There are simply not enough female engineers. Stannah are working hard through STEM activities to champion engineering as a career path for all. I hope this work in conjunction with our outstanding apprenticeship programmes sees significantly more female engineers in the industry in the future.”

Stannah believes it is the responsibility of our industry to work together and do what it can to break the stigma of engineering being a man’s role and encourage more women to the field.

James Buttigieg, Group HR Director, said, “Stannah are committed to encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion among our workforce. We have policies in place to support women in the workplace, including an enhanced maternity scheme.

We have also launched our first network group, the Gender Equality Network (GEN) group to help us tackle gender biases within the organisation and make sure we are focused on promoting gender equality in all areas of the business.”

Head over to our LinkedIn page to read our interview with Christine Reyes and Laura Vela-Reyes.

Pernille Thomsen 23-06-2023