On 23rd June people and businesses across the world celebrate International Women in Engineering Day.
Now in its 8th year, it provides an important opportunity to raise the profile of women within technical field roles. As well as highlighting why a career in engineering should be accessible to anyone and everyone.
Here at NRL, we asked our female contractors and colleagues what they find most rewarding about a career in engineering – and what advice they’d give young women thinking about their future.
In the spotlight: Annabel Dance, Consultant NDT Engineer
Annabel specialises in non-destructive testing and has worked and studied within engineering for over three decades.
How did you get into engineering and how did you gain your qualifications?
I first studied for a BSc Physics at Exeter University, and then a PhD in Geophysics at Leicester.
I looked for a job in engineering as it was a good option with my qualifications and there seemed to be plenty of work in engineering at the time in 1987.
What skills have you learnt in your current and previous roles?
Ultrasonic testing, eddy current testing, working on site finding defects in oil and gas installations and aerospace. As well as reviewing associated documentation and working with various equipment.
What excites you about working in engineering?
At the moment I work with high end ultrasonic instrumentation as an Applications Engineer. Finding new ways to use the equipment is really exciting.
What have been your proudest achievements to date?
Setting up my own consultancy as I have now. I have two main clients - the one I mentioned above, and I am also a Validation Consultant for nuclear weld inspection validation.
What more can be done to promote female careers in engineering?
Take groups of young women on site - to the dirty places that aren't modern! Give them a taste of the gritty end of things.
What would you say to young women considering a role in engineering?
Join your work-related institute or organisation and network. A lot of jobs are assisted if people know you. Make the effort to go to events and get to know the people in the industry - join committees and engage that way. That's how I've got all my jobs in the last 10 years.
What would you say to young women who aren't necessarily considering a role in engineering?
Be realistic about whether this interests you - don't rule it out through prejudice. But if it really turns you off don't worry about it!
Getting into engineering
For anyone interested in getting into engineering there are a few options. Consider enrolling in a university course, that will teach all the essential skills in a classroom learning environment. There are also usually opportunities to go out into the field and put these new skills into action.
If you’d prefer a more hands-on approach to learning from the start though, why not consider an apprenticeship – which provides a great route into learning the industry whilst earning a wage.