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Time for more women to forge careers in engineering, says expert panel

26 June 2020

A Formula 1 track-side Fuel Engineer, the Chief Programme Engineer at Ford, the Head of Environmental Science at HS2 and a Project Manager behind the London 2012 Olympics. What do they all have in common?

Answer: they are all University of Bradford alumni and they're all women. More specifically, they are women forging careers in engineering.

Women in engineering might be outnumbered by men but they’re not overshadowed – that’s the message from course leaders at the University of Bradford, who want to see more women taking up engineering courses.

They recently marked International Women In Engineering Day (IWED) 2020 with a special ‘virtual' event on Tuesday June 23, which included a panel of guest speakers, many of them alumni. The event was such a success, there are now plans to stage another event later this year and to mark IWED annually.

Dr Elaine Brown, Reader in Mechanical and Process Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics, said: “Engineering is a rich and rewarding career with fantastic opportunities, but women are underrepresented. This means many women are missing out on the exciting experiences on offer and is also bad for business and the economy because gender diversity is shown to increase team performance and lead to more innovative solutions.

“At the University of Bradford, we appreciate diversity, and love that our students bring diverse experiences and perspectives – we see at first-hand how this enriches the engineering ideas that students develop during our projects and problem solving activities. 

“Our wonderful graduates who have had the advantage of learning in this environment are ready to apply their skills in industry and business. Diversity is a win-win situation and so it’s obvious – we need to encourage more women into engineering.”

Kate Hall, who is not part of the panel but studied engineering at the University of Bradford (1992-1995), was Project Manager for Arup’s work designing the infrastructure for the London 2012 Games. She is passionate about getting more women into engineering.

“I went into engineering because I wanted to work on landscape projects. Some of the exercises we did at the university were pretty close to real life. I was always excited about building iconic projects. In terms of giving real experience, a lot of people choose to have a year in industry, so people on the course and lectures had that business reality as well as theory and I think that really prepared us for going out. There were about 100 people on my course, and three [of those were] women. I’m passionate about trying to help women into engineering, to see what exciting career it is.”

The event is being held in association with the University Gender Staff Forum and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team. There will be a number of female speakers to share stories about working in the engineering industry. Dr Brown is opening the event, Professor Udy Archibong will be chairing the session and there will be a Q&A session at the end. 

The University runs undergraduate courses in: Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil and Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and more, while postgraduate courses include Advanced Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Advanced Civil and Structural Engineering, Automotive Systems, Smart Grids and Energy Systems. There are also undergraduate courses in Computer Science, Cyber Security, Software Engineering and postgraduate courses in Big Data and The Internet of Things.

Further details on our students and staff, and Women in Engineering Day 2020, are available HERE.

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