Women and Engineering, changing today’s perception by Emma Smith

I’ve pretty much covered the spectrum in variety of job roles, so much so that my CV reads like the yellow pages. I’ve worked as a nursery assistant, a care assistant, and as a receptionist – all jobs you’d normally associate with women. Needless to say; when I was offered a job in engineering, your typical male environment (albeit as a Sales Administrator), I figured I’d be out of my depth. 

My engineering knowledge started and stopped at knowing the difference between aluminium and stainless steel – “one is shinier”. Combine this with the added nerves of being one of 4 women within a predominantly all male environment I was convinced I’d never have the opportunity to progress or be able to keep up with my male colleagues.

Safe to say I was wrong (never an easy thing for a woman to admit!). 

I’ve gone from shying away from “engineering based questions” or going into a blind panic when a supplier/customer would call and ask me anything technical; to being the key contact for the majority of our suppliers and managing the production/progress of one of our biggest customers. It seems strange to think that I was so worried about not fitting in or being in fear that I’d never grasp anything about the industry I was now working in. 

“Autonomy is something that is strongly encouraged at Tridan, and I believe this is something that really helped me”

I was pushed out of my comfort zone by my peers and managers and encouraged to get involved and learn new skills. The best way I’ve learnt is by being given a basic outline of what is needed and being able to put my take on it and do things the way I see fit. 

As I previously said, I’ve had many different job roles, yet I’d never of thought I’d thrive and achieve the most in an industry I didn’t have the first clue about! 

I can relate my career so far in engineering to the machining of a part … taking something simple, like a bar length or billet and seeing the potential it can have. Every cut, angle and drilled hole has an impact on how the finished part will look.

“By honing your skill and adapting your thinking where necessary, you can take something simple and make it into anything!”

I know I won’t be alone in my preconceived ideas that engineering wasn’t the place for me. My advice to anyone interested in the challenge or thrill of engineering would be to defy the outdated social standard that it’s a man’s environment and go for it! I come into work every day determined to learn something new and prove that the engineering game isn’t just for men! 

If you’d said to me when I left school that eventually I’d go into engineering, I’d would have laughed… Now I can’t imagine doing anything else. 

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