International Women in Engineering Day – what does an engineer look like?

It’s International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on Saturday (23 June) and we’re celebrating with some of our fantastic female engineers across our seven offices. Our first blog is from Charu Gupta, who is an energy and sustainability engineer at our Birmingham office.

My five-year-old daughter took part in the INWED ‘draw an engineer’ competition and I’m incredibly proud of the picture she’s drawn. She’s drawn a girl who looks similar to her and she tells me that she’s drawn her doing similar work to me – making buildings ‘green’.

She’s wearing a cap with a little green house on it – she knows that my work is with green energy, so that’s how she’s interpreted it. A lot of adults still don’t understand exactly what sustainability entails, so for her to have represented it as the colour green is really great; I’m impressed by how much she’s picked up.

My daughter often wants to know what I’ve been doing during the day, she’s interested in engineering as she’s been exposed to it from a very young age –sometimes even wanting to have a look through my regulation books rather than hearing a story at bedtime. I’m glad that I’ve been able to talk to her about engineering and show her that the common misconceptions people have about all engineers being men is simply not true.

I think the reason more women aren’t going into engineering is because they don’t know about it. We need to encourage the younger generation, inspire them to get involved and show them that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to engineers – it’s a very varied industry and women really do have a chance now to make a difference.

The ‘draw an engineer’ competition has been running for a few years and is a great way to show that the face of engineering is changing – not just the industry as a whole but also the people who work within it. We’re all so different and bring our own skill set to the table, making it a more a productive and creative environment for everyone.

I have, in the past, mentored interns and spoken to students who, when exposed to the fascinating world of engineering become immediately hooked. They often say that they weren’t aware of what opportunities there were in the industry and that they now can’t wait to get involved.

There should be more workshops, training and networking events available for schools and universities and the work done around INWED is very positive in getting people interested – and informed.

One of INWED’s themes this year is ‘#RaisingTheBar’. To me, this means raising the bar in young people’s minds – thinking further ahead in time and realising what’s possible if you put your mind to it.

I know from experience that, if you fall in love with what you do, you can get wherever you want to be.
This is a message I hope all young girls hear – including my five-year-old tot!