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BAE Systems in Rochester supports International Women in Engineering Day on June 23

The number of women entering engineering has "flatlined" over recent years - a trend which International Women in Engineering Day hopes to reverse.

The annual event, which is held today, is now in its seventh year and aims to highlight the career opportunities in the sector.

BAE Systems is urging more women to pursue engineering
BAE Systems is urging more women to pursue engineering

Founded by the Women's Engineering Society, it shines a light on the role women can play in an industry which is stereotyped as male-dominated.

But those already carving a path say the number of women entering the sector has slowed in recent years - a trend they are keen to see change.

Sarah Taylor, 32, is principal hardware engineer for defence, security and aerospace firm BAE Systems in its electronic systems division at its site in Rochester.

She explained: "As a female engineer, marking International Women in Engineering Day is important to me. I grew up and attended school in Kent surrounded by enthusiastic and talented young women but now as I look around it seems not so many followed a path similar to mine.

"Great strides have been made with the number of women in engineering doubling between 2008 and 2018 but that number has flatlined since and on a personal level I haven’t observed a significant increase in the number of women in Engineering since I began my career.

Sarah Taylor works for BAE Systems in Rochester
Sarah Taylor works for BAE Systems in Rochester

"It’s vital we do not lose momentum. Educating young girls early on about the possibilities of a career in engineering is a great way to help improve numbers.

"Some of the most exceptional engineers I have worked with to date have been women.

"I want to see a workforce filled with people like them and with those talents because of the difference they can make. I can only imagine the number of talented young women that have sidestepped engineering as a career in favour of other avenues and when that happens the industry loses out.

"What I see as a catalyst in getting me to this point was undertaking a week-long work experience placement with an electrician when I was 16. I still remember it so clearly and I had the best time. So much so, that I almost applied for an electrician’s apprenticeship with that company to leave school. I instead opted to continue with my studies and earn my degree in electronic and electrical engineering and haven’t looked back.

"My route into my current job was also the result of getting a taster for what life in engineering was like after an industrial placement year as part of my studies. This was hands-down the best decision I made to date in supporting the start of my career in engineering because it allowed me to put theory into practice using real world problems.

Today marks International Women in Engineering Day
Today marks International Women in Engineering Day

"So I would emphasise to anyone out there to make sure young girls around you are at least being exposed to the possibilities. Show them what they can be doing and nurture interest where it exists.

"Lastly, if you are a woman in engineering then keep asking how we can get more girls interested in engineering.

"Change comes from within and we need to be there as role models to help.

"There are a handful of women that I have found incredibly inspiring in my professional life and they include colleagues and team leaders from my time working in both the UK and Australia. Sadly these have been few and far between and I hope that with an increase in numbers of female engineers reaching senior positions in engineering, more role models can be available to young people starting their careers."

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