Celebrating Women in Engineering: An Interview with Katy Garside

Celebrating Women in Engineering: An Interview with Katy Garside

International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) began in the UK in 2014 as a national campaign from the Women’s Engineering Society. Since then, INWED has grown enormously, receiving UNESCO patronage in 2016 and going truly global the following year. 

INWED gives women engineers around the world a profile when they are still hugely under-represented in their professions. As the only platform of its kind, it plays a vital role in encouraging more young women and girls to take up engineering careers.

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2022, we spoke with our very own Delivery & IQA Manager, Katy Garside to find out what this day means to her and how we can encourage more women to become engineers.

1. Tell us about your role at Universal Skills
"My role at Universal Skills is “Delivery & IQA Manager” this means I look
after the delivery team and update the training material, ensuring that we are compliant with all of our awarding bodies. I regularly liase with the compliance managers of our different clients to make sure the training we are providing is bespoke and tailored to their needs. Before I was a manager, I was a tutor/assessor and taught apprentice groups. I always loved watching people complete their apprenticeships, knowing that what you taught them will positively impact their future career."

2. How did you get into the electrical/gas industry?
"My dad and step dad are both tradesman, I always wanted to help out
growing up as I always wanted to see how everything worked and liked to fix things… I became obsessed with tools (which if you could see my house, that is very much still true). I didn’t necessarily know I would end up in this industry but definitely knew I wanted to do something in Engineering. Luckily, I went to a technology school, so engineering was an option for me to take there."

3. What does it mean to be a woman in engineering?
"I think it’s great that I could potentially change some people’s perspectives on it, but it is still a shame that the number of women in STEM in general is still so low, although it is rising. I personally, don’t feel any different about being a woman in the industry compared to any other job that I have done."

4. What do you see as the challenges to making the sector more
inclusive for women?
"I think ‘old fashioned’ ideologies are an issue a little still. Unfortunately, there are still some people out there who think women can’t do a job in a sector like engineering. The Women’s Engineering Society have helped a lot to raise the profile of women in engineering roles but there’s still work to do to try and remove the stigma that’s there. There’s a lot of “unknowns” when it comes to women in engineering with many falsely concluding that they may struggle or not receive the same level of support in a male dominated profession. In my own experience I’ve found that some of the best, most supportive people are men. Challenging this perception and creating transparency within the sector will help to encourage more women to consider roles within engineering."

5. What can we do to improve gender equality across the industry?
"Educate people from a younger age. When I was younger not many people would suggest engineering as a career option, I think it is important that people know all of their options and aren’t just directed down certain career paths because of their gender. I did a podcast a while back and one of the things that came up was the fact that you don’t see many cartoon characters who are female doing jobs in engineering/construction, I hadn’t really ever thought about it until then but it certainly does highlight how underrepresented female engineers are and probably why younger women disregard it as a viable profession when leaving school."

6. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman
thinking of starting a career within the energy sector?
"Just go for it - I’ve worked in the industry for almost a decade now and love what I do!"

You can find out more about International Women in Engineering Day and about the Women's Engineering Society through the below links.

https://www.inwed.org.uk/

https://www.wes.org.uk


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