INTERNATIONAL WOMEN IN ENGINEERING DAY 2021 – ‘EVERYDAY HEROES’ Part Two
As a recruitment agency that specialises in engineering, supply chain and technical sales recruitment we are lucky enough to meet some truly inspiring individuals and industry leaders.
This year, the annual International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) – being celebrated on 23rd June – gives us an opportunity to celebrate ‘Engineering Heroes’. The purpose of the INWED event (now in its eighth year) is to highlight how female engineers help to ‘deliver and maintain critical services and infrastructure, keep civic society functioning at every level, and support lives and livelihoods’.
A great way to do this is to showcase some of ‘the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering’ who are leading the way for others and are finding new pathways within the sector.
Ruth Francis is a Senior Mechanical Design Engineer at our client METTLER TOLEDO Safeline, she is a fantastic example of an inspiring woman in engineering.
METTLER TOLEDO Safeline is the global market leader in the field of industrial metal detection systems for the pharmaceutical and food processing and packaging industries. Ruth is currently supervising a team of Design Engineers and was able to spare some time to talk to us about her journey and the engineering industry as a whole.
WHAT MADE YOU FIRST INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN ENGINEERING?
I was originally a Product Designer and was due to follow that path with my MSc, but in a ‘sliding doors’ moment, my lecturer told me he was starting up a new MSc that combined Manufacturing and Engineering, and he felt I was better suited to that. In that moment, my path changed.
CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
I’ve worked for a variety of companies designing lots of different products, including metallisers, external and internal lifts for people with disabilities/reduced mobility, medical instrumentation and various conveyor and non-conveyor systems that support metal detector products within the food and pharmaceutical industries.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
The impact that I have made in METTLER TOLEDO Safeline, where I currently work. In the short time I have been here, I have been promoted from Mechanical Design Engineer to Senior Mechanical Design Engineer and I am now supervising a team of Design Engineers, whilst my Team Leader is on maternity leave. This company has recognised my efforts and I really feel that I am having a strong influence on improving the business for the future. This is the first time in my career where I have felt my own self-worth.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE IDEA OF BEING A ROLE MODEL TO YOUNGER FEMALES IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
I like that idea very much. I think it is important for young females to see that they are more than capable of entering a male-dominated environment and be successful in it.
DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY TO ENCOURAGE GIRLS IN STEM SUBJECTS IN SCHOOL?
Yes. I think many girls are inquisitive and like science but sometimes it isn’t the ‘cool’ thing to be involved in and they may feel like they are standing out on a limb. They just need support, and enough energy and determination to find their niche.
IS THERE A FEMALE COLLEAGUE WHO HAS PARTICULARLY INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER AND HOW HAS SHE DONE THIS?
Unfortunately, I’ve spent most of my working life alongside men, so never got the opportunity to be inspired by a fellow female engineer. It has only been in recent years where I have seen more women within engineering and thankfully, in my current job, I have several with whom I work regularly. However, I did spend a very short time working with one woman who inspired me to learn about STEM. I had never heard of STEM up until that time and she introduced me to the STEM Ambassador work at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. It opened my eyes to all the hard work that is being done to encourage individuals into these roles.
HOW HAS YOUR COMPANY SUPPORTED YOU IN YOUR CAREER AS A FEMALE IN THE ENGINEERING SECTOR?
METTLER TOLEDO Safeline has many initiatives involving inclusion and diversity of all types and the company is very supportive of me being a woman working in engineering, but at the end of the day, I want my abilities to be recognised, not my gender. I know that my company understands that, not just for me but also for all of its employees. The more diversity you can get into a business, the more variety of perspectives and ideas will be cultivated. This becomes a good basis for a company to grow.
HAS THE ENGINEERING SECTOR CHANGED ITS ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER?
Very much so, yes. I am 43 years old, and as I have mentioned, this is the first time in my life where I have seen so many women working in engineering around me. It is great to see. I don’t know if other companies have this level of diversity, but METTLER TOLEDO Safeline certainly does. These days the attitudes that I experienced when I was younger would not be tolerated.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE ENGINEERING INDUSTRY CAN FURTHER ADAPT AND IMPROVE TO EMBRACE FEMALE ENGINEERS?
I think there is only so much an industry can do to support individual female engineers. It is all about giving them confidence and allaying any fears or concerns they have. I think it is important to involve male engineers and work alongside them. It has always been a male-dominated environment and there is a lot of history and experience to take from that.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR ENGINEERING AND THE WOMEN WHO WORK IN THE SECTOR?
I think that the future is bright. As mentioned, in the 20 plus years I have been in this industry, it is only within the last 5-10 years that I have seen more women joining. This will encourage more and if we continue to work alongside our male colleagues who can support us along the way, then it can only get better.
We hope you come away from this blog feeling inspired, if you are seeking a new role or would like to discuss your career options, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today!
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