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engineering – and aim to help change the perception that engineering is predominantly a career for men by banishing outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and dirty overalls.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 16.5% of those working in engineering occupations are women (source: Engineering UK).
Former winners include Ella Podmore, Materials Engineer for McLaren Automotive, Ying Wan Loh, Manufacturing Engineer at Rolls-Royce plc, Sophie Harker, Aerodynamics & Performance Engineer for BAE Systems and Dr Ozak Esu, Technical Lead at BRE.
Dr Ciara McGrath, a Lecturer in Aerospace Systems at the University of Manchester won the 2021 YWE Award. Ciara carries out engineering research projects in the areas of astrodynamics and space mission design, working with industry and policy makers to design space systems that can help support life on Earth. She also teaches university courses and supervises student projects in space system design, to support the education and development of the next generation of engineers.
She said: “It is such an honour to be the IET’s 2021 Young Woman Engineer of the Year. I always say that the highlight of my career was having my name engraved on the side of a spacecraft – but this is a very close second!
“I’ve had the opportunity to appear on TV, radio, and podcasts, to share my excitement for engineering, spaceflight, and the future of our industry. The most rewarding aspect by far has been speaking to ambitious, talented young women who have been inspired to consider a career in engineering. Engineering is a fantastic profession that allows you to change people’s lives by shaping the world of tomorrow. It's wonderful to see so many women excited by engineering because we need a truly diverse community of engineers to tackle the global challenges facing us today and ensure we can build a better future for us all.
“It’s very tempting to shy away from our achievements and hide from the spotlight, but I have seen first-hand how sharing and celebrating our success can give others the courage and confidence to believe in themselves. So, on this International Women’s Day, let’s take the opportunity to share stories – of women who have inspired us, but also of our own moments of inspiration, determination and success. However small they may seem to us, they can make a big difference in the world."
Now in its fourth year, another award category is the Gender Diversity Ambassador Award which was awarded to Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon in 2021, who has spent a large proportion of her career committed to addressing the gender imbalance within the industry. Elena has made a significant contribution to the engineering gender diversity arena and the work the IET encourages to address the gender diversity gap.
Dr Laura Norton, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the IET, said: “Engineers develop products and services for everyone, yet just 16.5% of the sector’s workforce are women. Awards like this are crucial for raising the profile of women within engineering and providing real-life role models for younger generations to encourage greater diversity within the industry.
“Former YWE winners and finalists are a real credit to the engineering profession and make excellent role models for young girls who might be thinking about a career in engineering and technology.
“It’s vital we champion engineering careers to the next generation – it’s a diverse, creative and exciting career, which offers the opportunity to change lives, or even the world.”
The deadline for entries to the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards is 1 July 2022. For more information, visit: youngwomenengineer.theiet.org
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