In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day and the 100 years since the Women’s Engineering Society, UK was founded; Truro High School hosted over 200 girls from across Cornwall at an engineering event. As women account for only 12.37% of the engineering workforce, Truro High School are aiming to address this imbalance and demonstrate what career opportunities are available.
Representatives from several engineering organisations and businesses across various disciplines attended the event to inspire the girls, through discussing their own experiences and demonstrating what their job involved. The girls had the opportunity to weld with chocolate, mix music, construct turbines and test model boats in swimming pools.
In support of the celebration, IMarEST Trustee and Committee Member of the Devon & Cornwall Joint Branch - Dr Rachel Nicholls-Lee CEng CMarENG, MIMarEST, Director of Whiskerstay Ltd, opened the day’s events with an inspirational keynote speech about her path into the engineering industry and how she got to where she is today. She then spent the morning and afternoon encouraging the girls to think about the effect of basic naval architecture principles in order to design, construct and ultimately race radio-controlled cargo ships in the school swimming pool.
“It’s amazing how well the girls interact and work together in groups where they don’t know anyone else. We push them a long way outside their comfort zone and they thrive on it. Achieving an operational remote control boat from a lump of foam and some wood in less than 2 hours is astounding, especially considering they have never done anything like this before. We had very successful vessel designs this year and managed two good races to determine the winning teams.” IMarEST Trustee, Dr Rachel Nicholls-Lee CEng CMarENG, MIMarEST, Director of Whiskerstay Ltd and Committee Member of the Devon & Cornwall Joint Branch
Focusing on the opportunities for women is vitally important as currently, there is an annual shortfall of engineers of up to 60,000 and more women in the industry could add as much $28 trillion to the annual GDP. These events provide excellent opportunities to encourage more girls to enter the STEM industry and could benefit the long term sustainability of the engineering sector.
The IMarEST is committed to developing a strong and explicit culture of inclusion when supporting the next generation of marine professionals. The Institute will utilise both women and men’s perspectives to address the historical and social challenges affecting women entering the marine industry and hope that its work will promote change in the Institute itself, in the marine sector and across the wider STEM industry.
The IMarEST has recently launched a women’s network on World Oceans Day. The network aims to build a forum for gender equality for its members and to harness their expertise and knowledge as role models and mentors for the next generation to promote a positive change - a change in the Institute itself, in the marine sector and hopefully across the wider engineering, science and technology industry. In developing a strong and explicit culture of inclusion, the IMarEST hopes to work by the philosophy of acting locally to succeed globally.
Gender equality is not just about bringing women together but about the equal valuing by society of both women and men. This network will undertake some targeted activities which might be needed to address some of the historical and social disadvantages affecting women entering the marine industry. It will do so by bringing men and women together - focusing on what unites us - a vision of a world where marine resources and activities are sustained, managed and developed for the benefit of humanity.