Female Engineering Apprentices? Shannon King’s perspective

ShannonThere has been a lot in the press about women in engineering recently and the focus on promoting STEM subjects to girls seems to be having an effect.  The tide is beginning to turn and in 2017 surveys indicated that 11% of the engineering workforce is now female , which is a positive change from the 9% in 2015.

With the UK still experiencing a serious shortfall in people with engineering skills (in 2014 the shortfall of STEM skills was 40,000) and with women representing 47% of the workforce  it makes sense for companies to promote gender diversity when employing engineers.

WES Group is such a company and I am very pleased to be the company’s first female engineering apprentice, working within the dosing system sector. I joined the company in September 2017 and have found the team welcoming and the job rewarding. If you are thinking about a career in engineering as a woman, here is what I have learnt:

Don’t let others put you off your passion: My journey originally started with a passion to join the RAF and through my facscination with wanting to know how things worked, it became a love of engineering.  As the only girl in my classes, I had to become used to working alongside male colleagues and to learn how to have my point of view taken seriously.

Know your own mind: The engineering spectrum is so wide, from chemical dosing to aerospace, that there are endless possibilities to find a field that you are passionate about and that you can succeed in. Don’t let anyone pressure you into a career field that is not for you but find something that fits your skills and passion.

Have a ‘can do’ attitude: It doesn’t matter who you are, having a ‘can do’ attitude is a blessing to any employer. I found when I first started in engineering, people saw my gender, now they just see me as an apprentice who brings a positive attitude to work every day.

I am thankful to WES Group for seeing my skills and abilities and giving me my first engineering job. If you want to find out more about being a woman in engineering, bizarrely there is another WES in existence and that is the Women’s Engineering Society that you can visit to get tips and encouragement on the next steps.

In this ‘Year of Engineering’, don’t discount engineering as a career option – afterall the opportunities to work in engineering and technical sectors are many, well-paid and exciting and a lot of companies, such as WES Group, are offering some great apprenticeships.