The awards celebrate women working in modern engineering and aim to help change the perception that engineering is predominantly a career for men by banishing outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and dirty overalls.
As well as highlighting female engineering talent, the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards seek to find role models who can help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis by promoting engineering careers to more girls and women. Just 12% of those working in engineering occupations are women (source: Engineering UK).
The 2020 YWE awards ceremony took place virtually on Thursday 4 March and Materials Engineer for McLaren Automotive, Ella Podmore, was announced as the new Young Woman Engineer of the Year.
Former winners include Sophie Harker, Aerodynamics & Performance Engineer for BAE Systems, Dr Ozak Esu, Technical Lead at BRE, Dr Jenni Sidey, Canadian Space Agency Astronaut and Orla Murphy, an Audio Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover.
Ying Wan Loh, a Manufacturing Engineer at Rolls-Royce plc, won the 2019 IET YWE Award. Ying completed an MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management at the University of Cambridge. During this time, she co-founded a technology start-up that developed rapidly within a year and won the CSSA UK High-Tech Entrepreneurship Bronze Award.
She said: “Winning the YWE award has provided me with a national and international platform to share my story. I have since gained some great exposure and expanded my professional network considerably.
“I am living the dream! I’ve had the opportunity to appear on TV, radio and podcasts, as well as being invited to speak at various events across Europe. The opportunities I’ve had already demonstrates how winning the award has substantially increased the reach and impact of my STEM engagements and volunteering. I’ve also connected with many high-achieving and inspiring women in the industry, both within my company and externally.
“Overall, it has been a wonderful experience so far which I will always be grateful for. Engineering is dynamic and exciting, and I am so glad to be in a position to share this with students and wider society. I am proud to be recognised through this prestigious award and I hope to use it as a positive catalyst to drive for more women and diversity in engineering. On this International Women’s Day, let’s remind ourselves of the achievements of great female engineers before us and celebrate the achievements of those around us.”
The Gender Diversity Ambassador Award, now in its second year, was awarded to BAE Systems Engineering Engagement Manager, Pam Wilson at the virtual awards ceremony. This award is presented to an individual who has spent a large proportion of their career committed to addressing the gender imbalance within their profession.
Jo Foster, IET Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, added: “We want to make it clear that engineering is a fantastic career for women. Outdated views and stereotypes are damaging to the industry, especially when there is a significant shortage of engineers, which poses a serious threat to the economy. It’s vital we champion engineering – it’s a diverse, creative and exciting career, which offers the opportunity to do something life – or even – world-changing.
“There are thousands of women engineers doing amazing things – from advancements in healthcare technology to space exploration. The Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards showcases some of the best female engineering talents in this country, hopefully encouraging the next generation to get excited about the possibilities of an engineering career.”
The deadline for entries for the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards is 5 July 2021. For more information, visit theiet.org/ywe