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Role models inspire the next generation of female engineers and scientists

Budding engineers and scientists have had a taste of their potential future careers thanks to a special workshop aimed at encouraging girls into those professions.

From Press releases - 24 November 2014 12:00 AM

Angela Wain.jpg

Budding engineers and scientists have had a taste of their potential future careers thanks to a special workshop aimed at encouraging girls into those professions.

Schoolgirls from Suffolk and Norfolk attended the interactive workshop at St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday to meet female role models from the worlds of science, engineering and technology.

The event, sponsored by UK Power Networks in partnership with WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) was organised to help kick-start a surge of interest from young women to help fill the looming skills gap in the industry. 

The power firm, which owns and maintains the vast amount of overhead power cables, underground cables and substations that deliver electricity to the doors of eight million properties across East Anglia, London and the South East, were joined at the event by Carillion, J Murphy & Sons and Siemens.

As well as speaking to role models, there was the opportunity for the girls to look at some of the network equipment the role models work on and with, including interactive activities with an element of fun to demonstrate key principles – for example getting the chance to configure a digger to score a goal.

Among those at the event was Daisy Platford, a 13-year-old pupil at Lynn Grove High School near Great Yarmouth, who tested out the digger on the day.

She said: “I am interested in electrical engineering probably because I have always been interested in how things work. Today has been helpful. Having a number of role models here is a good idea as you can see how successful females in engineering are doing.”

One of those who really benefited from speaking to the role models was 17-year-old Elisa Barber, from Thurston. She said: “I am very interested in mechanical or electrical engineering. I would particularly like to work with power and renewables. I came to discover more about the different routes into engineering and it has been really useful in that respect.”

Helen Wain, UK Power Networks’ category manager, was the brains behind the event and one of the 20 female role models. She began her engineering career in the automotive industry and designed the power steering system which Jaguar is still using today.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the phenomenal support and response from the girls who attended, the schools that enabled them to attend and the representative of the businesses which they could be working for in years to come.”

Saturday’s event was facilitated by WISE. Helen Wollaston, director of WISE Campaign said: "Most girls don't think about working in engineering because they have never met a woman who does, so they assume it isn't for them. Meeting young women who are engineers and love what they do is a great way to show them a more positive side of the industry."

The workshop has also received the backing of the Women’s Engineering Society. Society president Dr Carol Marsh said: “It is fantastic that the UK Power Networks has partnered with WISE to provide this interactive workshop. Having female role models is important and having 20 at the one event to inspire girls is amazing.”