To mark International Women’s Day 2019, we’d like to introduce you to Meave, our Customer Engineering Manager.
Can you tell us a little bit about what the average day looks like for you?
Average day? There is no average day, and that is the beauty of Balcas brites customer engineering. You could be at your desk working remotely with clients, undertaking site visits, in meetings, answering customer queries, designing new systems, project managing, or even crawling through a large steam boiler! There are always plenty of new and exciting challenges.
As a woman working in engineering, do you have any role models that you look up to – both inside and outside your field?
At the risk of sounding cliché, it would have to be my parents. I have three sisters and one brother, and we were all brought up to be equal. From a young age we were taught cause and effect, and encouraged to be independent, adventurous and take risks. These are traits that I believe have allowed me, and two of my sisters, to feel comfortable as women in the field of engineering.
Why did you choose to become an engineer? What were the major factors in your decision?
As a child I enjoyed playing with Lego and Meccano, and I was always there to lend a hand with DIY projects at home. I have always been very practical and hands on, and at school I was drawn towards STEM subjects; science, technology and maths.
I initially wanted to pursue a career in aviation, and started a BEng (Hons) degree in Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Salford in 1999. However, the landscape of the aviation industry significantly changed following the events of September 11th 2001. While completing my university studies I worked for a precision engineering firm, which enabled me to gain invaluable experience in engineering manufacturing processes and business management. I later joined Balcas, where I was given the opportunity to develop my skills and expand into the field of renewable energy and steam generation. I now manage a team of engineers in brites Customer engineering.
In ten words or fewer, why do you love engineering?
Every day is a school day!
In your opinion, why is it important that more women take up engineering in the near future?
Women are underrepresented in engineering, only making up 11% of the engineering workforce in the UK. I believe a diverse workforce, that brings together different perspectives and talents, is absolutely essential to create better and more efficient solutions.
Is there more that schools could do to get girls engaged in science from a young age?
I think schools are doing a good job and girls are now offered the same subject choices as their male counterparts, with many excelling in STEM subjects. The issue, as I see it, is with society. There is still a perception that engineering is a “man’s job”, and I feel many girls may be put off by this, especially at such an impressionable age. I think it is therefore important schools and universities continue to actively promote, and raise the profile of, women in STEM subjects.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in engineering?
Don’t be deterred – Go for it!
If you could choose any engineering project in the world, which would you most like to work on?
As a passionate motorcycle rider and enthusiast, it would have to be with one of the MotoGP teams!
Thanks Meave, judging by the pic it was inevitable!