As it’s International Women in Engineering Day on Sunday 23rd June, one of our engineering apprentices at Oakwood Air Conditioning has written a blog to mark the day. She talks about her thoughts around becoming the first female engineer to start at her family’s business and why she thinks other women should be encouraged to start in this industry.
My journey began, as it did for so many of us, in a haze of excitement, intimidation and promise. I found myself in an industry that fascinated me, yet, I honestly knew next to nothing about - only that I was about to become the first female engineer employed by my company.
I was inspired and comforted by a father who, after thirty years in the industry, assured me I would not just accomplish but flourish a career in the engineering world.
I remember thinking how much I hoped he was right; what remarkable career could lie ahead of me if I applied myself and overcame my fear of rejection?
Engineering being engrained into my family should have provided some comfort. I found I looked to my brother (who not long before me had begun his career in the industry) for some sort of reference of how this could possibly pan out. But there was a difference: I was a young woman, and our journeys were destined to be vastly different, or so I believed. Realisation quickly hit that I was not immune to the insecurities that many have faced when stepping into a world where they do not traditionally belong.
For the most part, my worries were unfounded. I was happily taken by surprise to discover that the trials and trepidations I personally have faced as a female engineer tend to be trivial, and for the most part, no different than those anyone could face in any other industry. Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges I have had to overcome, and still do some days, is quite simply feeling shy. It really is that, a simple human emotion many of us feel in simple social situations.
The question I get asked the most would be how do I cope physically? Well, the answer is, quite easily. I began this journey unsure of how well I would be able to do this physical job; if I would make a fool of myself and if my peers would accept me. I had not met another woman in the industry who could help me reference all these concerns. I have honestly been shocked by how capable I am, how strong I can be, and how amazingly accepting and encouraging my peers have been. I very quickly discovered that this industry is family, and help is always there if you ever need it.
I really believe it is so important for women to understand the archaic limitations placed on this industry no longer apply unless we allow them to. What I mean by this is, the world of engineering is open to us if we want to explore it. Of course, education systems, national and world-wide firms need to do so much more to encourage the younger female generation in to the mathematical and scientific industries, but if you just dipped your toes, I truly believe you will find unending support and you can inspire more and more women to take part.
I believe this industry needs women more than we even realise yet. The changes our trade is facing, being as they are so vast and happening so quickly, needs all people from all walks of life to help evolve it and improve it into a sustainable and effective industry for the betterment of our planet.
Never be afraid to try something that goes against the grain - I did and there were moments I felt out of my depth, judged or even just silly for believing I could achieve my goals. Yet I have thrived more than I thought possible and have been supported throughout my journey. The more women who take this plunge, the less taboo we make our involvement and the more we inspire. Trust me, you can do it.
If you would like to start your career in engineering like Fay, get in touch with our team: