According to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) (BESA), the proportion of women entering engineering professions is rising, bringing essential skills to address significant challenges. Currently, women comprise 16.5% of the UK’s engineering workforce, a notable increase from 10.5% in 2010. Research by EngineeringUK reveals that the number of women in engineering roles has surged from 562,000 to 936,000. Globally, women account for merely 28% of all engineering graduates.
For International Women in Engineering Day this year we have asked a member of our Manufacturing Team, Senior Manufacturing Engineer, Charlotte Handscombe-Buckley from our team UK team to tell us about her role here at Crowcon and her views on the importance of encouraging more women to get into engineering.
When did you realise you wanted to get into engineering?
I idolised my Grandad growing up, and he was an engineer who’d undertaken all sorts of engineering roles in his career but spent most of it installing and repairing diesel engines on trains. I was fortunate that he always encouraged me to be creative, test out ideas and to have a go at building / fixing things from a young age. I used to help him with DIY jobs and I remember him letting me loose with a nail gun felting a shed roof when I was only around 8 years old… my Gran got a bit of a shock when she came out into the garden and promptly told Grandad off!
I was torn between taking up engineering or becoming a paramedic but I then realised with engineering I could still help people by solving problems and making their lives better so that gave me the best of both worlds!
Tell us about what you do. What does your day-to-day look like?
My day-to-day varies hugely, but a typical day could start with our production start up meeting where we discuss what the days’ priorities are, then I could be running a GEMBA walk where a small team go into a production cell and ask lots of questions about the process and garner ideas and process improvements from the operators, this could be followed by a couple of project meetings with our development team, then finally I could be conducting a pilot run for a new PCB or new software release provided by development. Phew!
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part is learning about how our products and processes work but that’s also the most interesting part! By pulling apart the processes and asking lots of questions, I can boost my knowledge and apply this to future problems solving or making process improvements.
What do you like most about your job?
The best part of my job is the people interaction side. It’s great working in Manufacturing Engineering as the team and I get involved in so many different projects and activities. It keeps the days interesting (they do go quickly though!) and I’m learning new things all the time. I always like to say that I’ve had a great day at work if I’ve fixed something and learned something new!
Was it difficult for you, (especially as a woman), to get into engineering?
No, I was fortunate to have a supportive family and a great form teacher in college who told me to go for it and stop doubting myself! The route I took was A-Levels then university for a Batchelor’s degree but it’s great to see many more vocational options these days such as Degree Apprenticeships. It was daunting walking into a university hall for my first lecture which was made up of 90% male students but I had to remember I had just as much right to be there as any of them!
Women now make up 16.5% of the UK’s engineering workforce compared to just 10.5% in 2010. On a global scale, women make up only 28% of all engineering graduates. Why is it important for women to pursue careers in engineering?
We all know the benefits of a diverse workforce, and by increasing the number of women in engineering teams you see these positives such as faster problem solving, different perspectives and higher quality innovation. Also, girls looking to go into engineering need positive role models and by pursuing this career path, you can be positive influence on others who may be less confident taking that next step!
What advice do you have for women students who are considering the profession or women currently working in engineering?
Research the different disciplines. Engineering isn’t just hands on, mechanical work (although that is a great option!) your skill set and interests might be more suited to aerospace, chemical, electrical, software, product design or civil engineering etc There’s more than one way to smash that glass ceiling!