Engineering has a long standing history of being a male dominated profession, but International Women in Engineering day aims to raise the profile of women in the profession. Organised by the Women’s Engineering Society, the theme in 2021 is engineering heroes and at Blackrow we are proud to have some fantastic female engineers amongst our team.

To shine a spotlight on our engineering heroes, and show that it isn’t just a profession for men we sat down with some of our female engineers at our headquarters in Grimsby.

Engineering the future

This generation of engineers are engineering the future. We sat down with Georgia a Mechanical Engineer who has been working at Blackrow for 9 years and Libby, an Apprentice Draftsperson who joined us in September 2020. Libby goes to college one day a week with the rest of her week spent at Blackrow.

Inspired to start a career in engineering

Both Georgia and Libby have fathers at in the industry, so have grown up in the environment. Georgia explains “I used to come to this workshop a lot as a kid, and I worked here as a receptionist when I was 17” which gave her more exposure and peaked her interest.

She then ended up going to university to study engineering with the support of Blackrow and her engineering family working at Blackrow throughout her course.  When asked what attracted her to the industry Georgia explained that it was the diversity of her role, the chance to travel and see different sites and see the project build up the whole way through from drawings.

Libby also had exposure to the industry from a young age thanks to her father’s work. Being a keen gymnast she explained that she began to want to source her own equipment for practising at home, so she started to design the bits and pieces that she wanted. From there her Dad brought her into Blackrow where her designs came to life. Libby explained “I really enjoyed the design part of it so I wanted to get involved.”

Making a dream a reality

Both Georgia and Libby have gone from dreaming about working in the industry, to successfully starting their career. Speaking about their roles today Georgia explained that her title is Mechanical Engineer but that she is currently heavily involved in projects. This involves helping the Project Managers with preparation, staying on site, providing drawings and supporting the team on site the whole way through a project. She had even been based in Peterborough for a year in 2018-2019 working on a project.

As an Apprentice Draftsperson, Libby is already able to take on projects for herself from others in the office. She said “I am doing quite a bit more than I expected I would be able to at this stage as I haven’t finished my training yet” which is testament to her progress with her learning.

From aspiring engineers to engineering heroes

The theme of Women in Engineering this year is engineering heroes, which seems incredibly appropriate given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At Blackrow our teams have been supplying key industries such as food manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, which has made them key workers themselves.

We asked Georgia and Libby what working life has been like during the pandemic. Georgia explained that early on she had been on a job to Belgium and had to return home on 24 hours notice with the borders getting locked down, restricting more of her role in this project to being office rather than site based.

Both Georgia and Libby have had to adapt to new working restrictions including social distancing measures, a reduced number of people on site and an increased use of technology for communication.

Advice for women thinking about a career in engineering

With engineering still being a male dominated industry, it is important to raise the profile of female engineers not just today but every day. We asked Georgia and Libby if they had any advice for young women wanting to start a career in engineering.

Georgia explained from  her own experience “don’t worry too much about the maths involved. I thought it would be a lot more intense than it is, actually you walk through a lot of it. It’s not a lot of theory it makes sense and is quite practical.”

Libby said “at school there wasn’t much information about trying to get girls into engineering. Now I am involved in it I know the routes into it, the college I am at I didn’t even know existed when I was at school and I wish I had. There is more than one route available into engineering, explore your options.”