For National Women in Engineering Day this year we have asked the newest member of our Technical Support team, Jackie Marsh, to tell us about her role here at Crowcon and her views on the importance of encouraging more women to get into engineering.
When was the first time you realised you wanted to become an engineer?
I was first inspired by my father who was a helicopter engineer in the fleet-air-arm, and later a Tool-Maker. I used to watch him take things apart and go to work with him on a Saturday morning. I probably realised during the last couple of years at high school as I was always interested in science and liked to understand how things work – this was further encouraged by a forward thinking high school teacher.
I took the apprenticeship route to an engineering qualification. This involved a 4 year placement with a manufacturing company, including day release (and night school!) at Thames Valley University, leading to NVQ Level 4 Engineering (Electronics Technician) and specialism in H.N.C. Electronics. I spent the first year of my apprenticeship at a training centre where there were only 2 girls out of around 100 apprentices!
During my final year as an apprentice, I spent some time in development, mainly software, before becoming Quality Control engineer at a company that manufactured military communications equipment. My next role was Senior engineer for a Telecoms consultancy/UKAS test laboratory, where I handled product approvals, so this job involved a nice amount of European travel.
I left engineering to spend time with my 3 daughters and also ran a small business from home. As the girls got older, I decided to rejoin the engineering workforce because, I have always enjoyed the challenge and didn’t want my skills and experience to go to waste.
Tell us about what you do. What does your day-to-day look like?
I recently started at Crowcon as a Technical Support Engineer. This key role bridges the technical and commercial aspects of the business, supporting the international sales teams and customers with technical queries about the operation, application and installation of existing and superseded products.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
The most challenging aspect is the wide range of products we work with, we can be asked detailed questions about any of our current or past product range.
What do you like most about your job?
The satisfaction of solving a problem and helping people move forwards.
Was it difficult for you, especially as a woman, to go into engineering?
Not in the sense of opportunities, they have always been there, though I do wonder whether being a woman has made it more difficult for me to get back into engineering after my career break. Throughout my career, it has been common for me to be the only woman in a department (or classroom) of men, and on the odd occasion, had people asking to speak to someone technical when a woman answers the phone to them! But these are the sorts of challenges I thrive on.
Why is it important for women to pursue careers in engineering?
I think anyone should be able to pursue a career which they enjoy and are interested in. Girls are performing well in science and maths at school; they should be encouraged to build upon these successes.
Why do you think the percentage of women in engineering is so small?
I think it is perhaps a cultural thing. In the UK, historically, we just don’t have the female role models. When I visited a test-lab in Spain some years ago they had lots of female engineers and technicians. I think we, as women and employers in engineering, need to reach out to young girls today to inspire them.
What advice do you have for women students who are considering the profession or women currently working in engineering?
Go for it!
We are now recruiting for 2 new Engineering apprentices and a Business support apprentice to join us from September. Visit our Careers page to find out more about how we develop all our employees and apply.