Why do we need female engineers? #INWED17

Why do we need female engineers? 

It’s a simple, in some ways controversial question, that we put out to IChemE members a couple of weeks ago to mark today’s International Women In Engineering Day.

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We received a fantastic response from chemical engineers working all over the world – take a look at them below and stay tuned on Twitter where we will be sharing them throughout the day.

How will you or your organisation be celebrating gender diversity today?

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KBR are #RaisingProfiles for International Women in Engineering Day

INWED LogoTomorrow is International Women In Engineering Day (INWED), and it’s been great to see an overwhelmingly positive response from our community in the form of events and activities.

The INWED website has some fantastic ideas for organisations to improve their diversity agenda, from organising networking events to completing an equal pay audit. It isn’t too late for your company to get involved, visit the website for more ideas.

Global engineering services provider KBR, a Gold Corporate Partner with the IChemE, is already ahead of the curve. Aspire, an employee-driven resources group committed to female engineers and promoting gender parity, was launched in Houston, US in 2016. In January it was rolled-out across the pond, and Aspire UK was born.

Aspire UK

To celebrate #INWED2017 the Aspire UK team joined with KBR’s graduate network, Impact, to host students from a local school. They attended the KBR Campus in Leatherhead today (Thursday 22 June) and inspired to take a career path in engineering.

The students were immersed in a working engineering environment and given several interactive workshop presentations about engineering, the opportunities the profession presents, and the pathways into an engineering career. They attended a networking lunch where they were able to meet with more engineers from KBR, including the business leaders.

The final activity was a team building game, where the students had to use their problem solving skills to build an Oil Rig Jacket Structure (oil platform) out of paper.

We caught up with the engineers who spoke at the event.

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10 female engineers on how to #BeBoldForChange #IWD2017

Today is International Women’s Day.

Celebrating the achievements of women, and various successes in gender parity, it provides us with the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the important issue of diversity in our profession.

The percentage of female undergraduates studying chemical engineering in UK is just above 25%. It’s higher than any other engineering discipline, but there’s still more to be done.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. To celebrate, our member-led diversity network has shared ten inspiring quotes from their popular ‘Women in Engineering’ webinar series on changing attitudes, highlighting how the engineers featured #BeBoldForChange in their careers.

These women (and one man!) are all at different stages of their fulfilling careers. Their words should inspire you to be #BeBoldForChange too.

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Top 5 UK Women in Chemical Engineering #NWED2016

The Top 50 Women in UK Engineering was published today by the Daily Telegraph, in partnership with the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). It celebrates female engineers across a broad range of sectors and disciplines to mark National Women in Engineering Day – 23 June. Over 800 nominations were received, so to make the Top 50 is a huge achievement.

But which chemical engineers made the list?

1. Dame Judith Hackitt

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The first chemical engineer to make the list (coming in at number 18), Dame Judith Hackitt, spent 23 years in industry before moving on to represent various professional institutions and boards. She was the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive for 8 years, and has recently become Chair of the EEF.

Judith was IChemE President 2013-2014, is an IChemE Fellow and an active member of the Institution. She is passionate about valuing diversity, and is strongly opposed to positive discrimination and tokenism. An interview we did with Judith for International Women’s Day is available here.

TOP QUOTE: “Teachers are ill-informed about engineering. They don’t know what it is and they have pre-conceived notions that it’s dirty, its greasy, it’s all these things which it’s not. And they say ‘No, that’s not for girls.’ You still find that even now, forty years later.”

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In the spotlight (Day 204)

As we approach the year end, lots of chemical engineers around the world are picking up their accolades for a year of hard work.

I’ve selected two stories for today’s blog from Malaysia and New Zealand – countries with very active and enthusiastic IChemE members.

Curtin University - design award

Curtin Sarawak chemical engineering students awarded at Design Project Award ceremony. Image courtesy of Curtin University

On 2 December in Miri, Malaysia, ten projects were showcased by final-year chemical engineering students of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia at their annual Design Project Award presentation ceremony.

Congratulations to Team ‘Innovazione’ who claimed the Best Design Project Award for its project: ‘Design of an offshore prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG)’.

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It’s all about people and skills (Day 189)

As our population grows and the challenges facing humanity, and the planet, become more acute, who will be able to provide the answers?

Will it be politicians, accountants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers or other professions we rely upon to make the world function efficiently?

The quick answer is that all professions will have a role, but, in my opinion, the solutions and catalysts for change will come from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community. I believe this will be the case whichever country you live in.

University students

A fifth of the UK workforce is likely to be employed in the science, technology, engineering and maths community by 2030.

So what are the challenges – even before we get to issues like global health, ageing populations, food and water security, achieving low carbon economies, and much more?

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Foundations for the future – the STEM pipeline (Day 159)

Classroom science

The Australian Government will invest $12 million to improve the focus (STEM) subjects in primary and secondary schools.

Routinely there are calls and initiatives to boost the number of school pupils who pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in school and beyond.

In the UK there are different campaigns from Government, industry, charitable organisations and professional bodies. Many of you will have heard about IChemE’s whynotchemeng initiative.

It’s useful to remind ourselves that there are challenges and strategies in place in other areas of the world too.

This month, the Australian government announced an AUS$12 million investment in school STEM subjects. There is a realisation that the STEM skillset is essential to national and international economic growth and competitiveness.

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‘Beeting’ down the barriers (Day 63)

A group of 8 female Chemical Engineering students from Strathclyde University spending the day at the Newark site.

A group of eight female Chemical Engineering students from the University of Strathclyde spend the day at British Sugar’s Newark site.

When you’re responsible for processing 7.5 million tonnes of sugar beet each year to make one million tonnes of sugar annually, you’re always on the look out for engineering talent – regardless of their gender.

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The rise, rise and rise of chemical engineering (Day 54)

UndergraduatesThe organisation responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK – UCAS – published their annual data tables this week. Their top-line data, by the deadline of 30 June 2014, showed a total of 659,030 applications, an increase of four per cent compared to the same point last year.

It’s an encouraging set of statistics following the decline in 2012 of eight per cent caused by the introduction of higher tuition fees in some parts of the UK.

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Masters of your own destiny (Day 34)

Your Life campaignHave you ever considered how engineering is perceived in different countries, and whether they face similar challenges on issues like recruitment, skills shortages and diversity?

Recently, I took a very quick ‘online peak’ around the world to look at some of these issues, especially the role of women in engineering.

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