Are you seeing more women in different types of engineering roles? The numbers are increasing across all sectors and with each new generation. This article focuses on the rise of women in engineering and how it can be encouraged.
The growing and vital trend of women in field-based engineering roles
There is a shortage of engineers and so we need to keep the pool of potential candidates as large as possible. This means making it possible for women to work in engineering roles in the field.
They may not always be visible as many field-based roles are ‘behind the scenes’. As well many field engineers work in isolation. If the role requires PPE, then it may be even more difficult to see them?
However, all teams want to attract the best qualified candidates for the role and don’t want gender to be a barrier. That means keeping the talent pool as wide as possible.
What can help the rise of the number of women in engineering
Positive and safe working conditions including adequate toilets.
Gender neutral tasks and instructions.
PPE that fits including maternity PPE, boots, and harnesses.
Flexible working when needed.
Positive role models and mentors within the organisation.
What are the advantages of having a diverse workforce
Positive company brand.
Better understanding of customers.
Greater innovation and creativity.
Stronger, enriched, and more effective teams.
Meet the women who are part of the rise and working in the engineering field
The best way to understand the change and the trend is to get to know the women who are already working in field-based roles.
Here are some of the people who have shared their experience with The Field Engineer.
Judith Lesowiec, Lead Engineer, Edwards Vacuum
Judith is tackling the legacy of a male dominated sector.
“Due to the legacy of engineering traditionally being a male dominated sector, some field service tasks can be designed to the average male lifting and height requirements.
This means that field service engineers who don’t fit those initial design requirements may struggle or be unable to complete some service tasks. This is of course by no means the engineers’ failing, rather that initial gender-neutral task designs were not taken into consideration.
Going forwards we can design new service tasks so that they can be completed by anyone, regardless of their gender. But how do we counteract those legacy tasks that still need to be performed now? And is technology the answer?
I would say an enthusiastic: Absolutely!”
To read more about Judith and her work go to:
A gender neutral field service engineering workforce
Adalet Yurtcu, Rope Access Technician and Work at Heights Instructor
Adalet is the first woman in Turkey to repair wind turbine blades. She shares her experience of working in a male dominated industry.
“Four years ago, when I started working on wind turbines, every time I went to a new site, there was an expression of surprise on people’s faces. After a short time, the people at the sites all over Turkey learned about me and they knew me even before I went to them. Especially in this sector, there has always been positive discrimination supporting me and they have all tried very hard to help me. Ten years from now, I am sure that there will be more female technicians in the field and personal spaces will be created for them.
To encourage more women to consider this career, we need training projects to support women and to encourage them more. Areas where they can work more easily could be increased.”
To read more about Adalet and her work experience go to:
Rope Access Technician repairing wind turbine blades
Katherine Evans, Mining Geologist
Katherine Evans is a Mining Geologist and the founder of Bold as Brass, a LinkedIn group for women to support each other.
“Our ongoing battle is with inclusive PPE, especially women’s fit PPE.
I don’t think enough purchasers realise that PPE isn’t just a uniform, it’s safety equipment.
Trousers – If a woman can’t move properly in her trousers, how can she quickly move out of the way of something if required, or how can she perform a manual handling task?
Gloves – If her gloves don’t stay on because they are four sizes too big, how can she tighten a bolt or dial numbers on a pad?
Boots – If her boots are sliding around her feet and don’t tie around the ankle because they are made for male foot widths, is she expected to wear two pairs of winter socks in summer? Is she expected as well to devote her attention to the additional trip hazard she now has tied to her legs?
Put all of this together with:
a hard hat that doesn’t sit on her small head or sit properly over her afro hair;
a jacket she’s had to size up to fit over her chest but now the sleeves have to be rolled up over the high viz band.
Now you are looking at a person who is neither protected nor safe to be on site.
Even though that saves money, it can’t be right. Is there honestly any wonder why women aren’t making it to the top positions.”
To read more about Katherine, Bold as Brass, and her work experience go to:
Geotechnical Manager inspiring women in Engineering
Emily Miltiadou, Field Service Technician, Miele
Emily has many years of experience as the only woman in a field engineering team.
“The prejudice I did have was when I started repairing white goods. This was not from males, but from the older generation! They didn’t understand why I, a woman, was turning up to fix their appliance.
An incident was when I had a service call out to a couple who had reported their appliance for no power. I rang the bell and was greeted with:
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
The response was:
“I don’t know how you will take this machine out. We have been trying but can’t get it out, and you’re a woman!!”.
I replied with:
“Don’t worry I have had all the relevant training.”
They were so impressed when I took it out, repaired it, then reinstalled it, that to this day they refuse to have anyone else attend to fix their appliance.”
To read more about Emily and her work experience go to:
Field Service Technician for Miele
Michelly Rodrigues, Field Services Engineer, GE Healthcare
Michelly works supporting the modality of MRIs. This is her advice to women working in engineering.
“Be curious, think about health and make strong and valuable connections with people.
When you are curious you open your mind to learning everyday with every experience you have. To be an engineer you will have to be a lifelong learner to prosper, and curiosity will lead you on the path of knowledge.
When I say think about health, I mean to make your daily choices healthier such as drinking enough water and taking exercise. If you have a healthy body and mind this will help your daily activities to flow better.
Also don’t pollute your thoughts with rudeness, selfishness, or grudges because this behaviour won’t get you anywhere.
Strength is needed more intellectually than physically. You can develop tools to work for you and to help you in many different ways, so use your creativity for that.
The most important thing is to make valuable and strong connections with people because this is what matters in the end: it is all about people. People build a company, people live in a society created by people, we cannot be alone in our journey, and we need to have strong bonds and connections to people. When we start thinking about relationships, networks and even credibility I believe it is all about people respecting people. When you make these bonds, everybody wins.”
To read more about Michelly and her work experience go to:
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