Welsh female engineers are calling for more women and girls to consider careers in engineering this International Women in Engineering Day.
Asset engineer Louise Bungay and assistant asset engineer, Hannah Kennedy, who both work for Network Rail, and Arriva Trains Wales apprentice engineer Demi Woodham explain why engineering is an interesting career choice for women.
Louise, 27, and Hannah, 23, are responsible for the maintenance of Network Rail structures such as bridges, viaducts, walls, tunnels and sea defences.
Louise said: “My advice to young girls is to just do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. There are so many different opportunities open to you in a career in engineering, just get out there and find what is best for you. I know I’m biased but it really is an amazing and inspiring job to have.
“My dad was a highways engineer and I remember as a kid we were driving and he said ‘I designed this road’. I loved the idea that as an engineer, you could have ownership of something and have a direct impact on people’s lives, for the positive.”
Originally from mid-Wales and now living in Caerphilly, Louise’s job involves looking after Network Rail’s assets from the moment they are installed until they have reached the end of their life, carrying out the correct maintenance where necessary.
Louise is based in Cardiff and covers all of central and east Wales. She studied civil engineering at Cardiff University.
Hannah Kennedy, 23, from Merthyr Tydfil, is also based in Cardiff and covers Network Rail’s assets in the Cardiff and Valleys area.
Hannah, who studied civil engineering at the University of Bristol, said: “If you’re intrigued by how things work and want to make a practical difference to people’s daily lives, a career in engineering is a great choice. Follow your interests, keep asking questions and don’t let self-limiting beliefs or cultural preconceptions stop you – I’ve never felt at a disadvantage because I’m a woman whilst working for Network Rail. If you’re not sure exactly what type of engineering role would best suit you, work experience can be a great way to understand what options are out there.”
Arriva Trains Wales apprentice engineer Demi Woodham, 18, from Bridgend, is training to be a craft interchangeable technician and started a four-year apprentice contract in September 2016.
Demi, who is based in the Arriva Trains Wales depot in Canton, Cardiff, said: “My stepfather is an engineer and when I started to become interested in motorbikes around the age of 13, he suggested that we work on a project together, so we built a bike from scratch and then I was hooked.
“At a careers event I met Arriva’s team and found out about the company’s apprenticeships and arranged to do one day’s work experience to see what it was like. By the end of that day I’d already decided that it was the place for me and that I wanted to be an engineering apprentice. I was a bit nervous, because the rail industry is seen as a male dominated profession and there was only one other female engineer, but everyone made me feel really welcome and now I’m really happy in my role. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
“Engineering offers fantastic career opportunities for women. I keep trying to get my friends to apply for roles in the industry because I think they’d really enjoy them.”
As one of the biggest employers in Wales, Network Rail recognises it has a role to play in inspiring future generations about careers in the engineering sector.
Andy Thomas, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said: “Rail is vital to economic growth in Wales. We are transforming and modernising the railway as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, to make a bigger and better railway for passengers.
“This involves a huge amount of work here in Wales and this provides a wealth of opportunities for women who want to embark on exciting careers in engineering, like Louise and Hannah. We want to challenge stereotypes and attract more women to join Network Rail, because a more diverse workforce will help us be more innovative in the way we improve railway services for passengers.”
International Women in Engineering Day, organised by the Women’s Engineering Society, is intended to raise the profile and achievements of females in the industry. International Women in Engineering Day is held on Friday 23 June 2017. More information can be found here: http://www.nwed.org.uk/
Wales’ female engineers tell us about their careers:
Notes to editors
To increase the numbers of women in engineering, Network Rail Wales:
Takes part in school outreach activities such as “Not Just for Boys” and “Keeping it Equal”.
Offers work experience placements for female students.
Has a Women’s network for female staff, Inspire.
Works closely with Chwarae Teg to help ensure that women in Wales can build rewarding careers.