Jobs in engineering provide a fast paced working environment within an exciting industry, however the sector faces challenges as the needs for skilled engineers has never been as pressing as it is today.

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Create the future Report 2017 revealed that two thirds of those surveyed believe there should be more diverse roles in engineering.

The sectors lack of diversity is most visible in its gender imbalance, according to Engineering UK 2018, only 12% of all engineers in the UK are women.

This isn’t a new problem within the STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but there is more and more being done within the sector to encourage more girls to chose engineering as a career.

The Women’s in Engineering Society (WES) holds conferences celebrating women in engineering including their International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) which is celebrated on the 23rd June each year.

For us at JH Mechanical Services, we welcomed our first female engineer 4 months ago and today, we are celebrating our first Women in Engineering Day 2019.

Faye North, Plumbing and Heating Engineer

Faye North, 24, joined us as a Plumbing and Heating Engineer and talks about her journey into the industry and gives an insight into what life is like as a female engineer.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an engineer?

Faye: “No, not at all. At college I studied Psychology, German and English Language A-Levels and enjoyed it but I didn’t know what I wanted to do after then. 

I knew I didn’t want to go to university so I took a job as a Chef and quickly realised I hated cooking! 

I saw an engineer come out to fix one of the boilers at work and thought to myself, I could do that – so I started a plumbing course part time while still working as a Chef.

On my days off I would work alongside another female Plumber learning, even though it was tough working 7 days a week, she was really great and gave me the confidence to keep going and taught me lots of the skills I have today”

Q: How would you describe your experience when training to become an engineer?

Faye: “Being the only female in the class I felt like there was added pressure to do better and to prove I could actually do it, but I never let that effect my confidence or my learning.

There were a few times where other students would completely take over the task I was working on, rather than showing me how to do it then stepping back and letting me complete it myself which was frustrating as I love the satisfaction of completing jobs.

Overall though I don’t think the training was any harder for me because I’m female, my tutors were great and the help was there when I needed it, but I do feel like there isn’t much career advice for students in general.”

Q: Do you feel you had the right support or help when deciding your future career?

Faye: “No – in school if you didn’t want to go to university then they only really offered you an apprenticeship but it was always in subjects such as Beauty or Hair Dressing. 

If I had known more about the engineering sector in school then I would have gone straight on to study a related college course.

Even during my plumbing course there were no extra opportunities so I phoned around and found a qualified plumber who was willing to let me work alongside them, I don’t think any other students were able to seek an opportunity like that so I’m glad I took the leap myself as it really benefited my own learning.”

Q: Do you enjoy being an engineer?

Faye: “Yes I really enjoy it – when I first joined JH Mechanical I was made to feel so welcome and I really feel like a valued member of the team.

I enjoy how diverse my job is, I’m never in the same place so everyday I’m learning on the job as well as developing my skills with extra courses and training.”

Q: What advice would you give to women wanting to get into engineering?

Faye: “Just stick to it and don’t listen to anyone – if you know that’s what you want to do then just do it. 

I enjoy what I do, especially the satisfaction of knowing you can fix stuff. 

I’m looking forward to developing my career within this industry and with JH Mechanical and carry on learning as much as I can”.