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28 June, 2016 - 09:38 By Kate Sweeney

TWI launches new women in engineering group

Heidi Allen at TWI

The vital role women have to play in the future of engineering was highlighted at TWI in Cambridge – a globally influential operator in the sector.

Heidi Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire, joined TWI ‘Technology ‘Fellow’ Dr Isabel Hadley and around 60 staff to celebrate National Women in Engineering Day. The event also saw the launch by the organisation’s professional division, The Welding Institute, of the new Women in Engineering Group.

Dr Hadley hailed pioneering female engineers who had helped break down barriers and myths that women doing non-traditional roles had to face during the war and post-war years. She traced progress from the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ campaign – used as part of the war effort to encourage women into non-traditional roles – to the ‘Ladies Bridge’ (Waterloo Bridge) construction in London during the Second World War. 

She noted that it has only been in recent times that women engineers have been raising their profiles and, celebrating their vital contribution to the sector, applauded their strides in driving change to address the UK gender balance for the industry, where just six per cent of engineers are female. 

Heidi Allen encouraged TWI staff to see themselves as positive role models for aspiring female engineers. She shared her experience of working as an MP, facing challenges, bringing people together to find solutions, and highlighted parallels with a career in engineering. She was keen to show that through outreach to schools and colleges, the UK has an opportunity to motivate young girls to see the many positives of a career in science and engineering. 

She praised TWI’s outreach work to schools, particularly fun activities such as The Welding Institute’s ‘Welding with Chocolate’ programme. 

TWI employees and postgraduate students studying at the organisation’s National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) are in a strong position to make significant impact for the future employment of women in the engineering field.

With more than 60 female engineers currently working on materials joining and engineering projects for companies in industry sectors including medical, transport, and oil and gas, the work environment and culture at TWI encourages and inspires new recruits and an investment in senior staff with valuable core knowledge. 

TWI has at least 20 per cent women engineers, qualified or qualifying across all levels, from technician through to principal project leader and manager grades, while two in five NSIRC postgraduate student engineers are women. The new Women in Engineering Group launched by The Welding Institute will bring together these like-minded professionals and provide new opportunities for participation and achievement in the engineering field.

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