07 December 2018
Three young female engineers have been recognised at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards for their work in engineering.
IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year: Sophie Harker (27), is an Aerodynamics & Performance Engineer for BAE Systems. In her role, Sophie performs aerodynamic and performance analyses on future combat jets, as well as exploring hypersonic flight concepts and the application of emerging technologies in aviation.
IET Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices: Shajida Akthar (23) is a Software Engineer at Accenture which involves coding scripts to automate manual processes in Financial Services.
Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Award: Lorna Bennet (29) is a Mechanical Engineer at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. She works to improve the operations and maintenance of offshore renewable energy assets.
On winning, Sophie said: “It feels very surreal – I didn’t think I would win! The shortlist was phenomenal and I was completely overwhelmed when I heard my name as the winner – it’s a really proud moment for me. It’s vital we inspire the next generation of engineers, especially women, and one way of doing this is highlighting current talent in the industry. These Awards are literally putting role models out there to change the perception of engineering and encourage young people to consider STEM careers. I’m looking forward to the year ahead and hope to inspire as many people as possible.”
Finalists Kate Self, Amy Wright and Dr Claire Donoghue were all highly commended. All winners and finalists will play an ambassadorial role for the engineering and technology professions in the forthcoming months, promoting engineering careers to girls and young people.
These prestigious engineering industry 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engineering – and aim to help change the perception that engineering is predominantly a career for men by banishing outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and dirty overalls.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 were women (source: Engineering UK).
The Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, said: "I am delighted to send my congratulations to the winners of the Institution of Engineering and Technology Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards.
“In 2018, the Year of Engineering, it is crucial that we recognise the importance of this industry in advancing society and economic growth. Engineering touches every part of our lives, yet not enough young people, especially women, are choosing this rewarding and exciting career path. The Government is committed to boosting engineering but it is events like these, and people like you, that are at the heart of helping to transform this agenda.
“I want to congratulate all those nominees and winners taking part in this year’s Awards. As some of the most promising young women in the UK, you are inspirational role models for girls across the country and should be proud of all you have achieved.”
Jo Foster, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the IET, said: “I’d like to congratulate our fantastic winners and finalists of this year’s Awards. They are a real credit to the engineering profession and will make excellent role models to 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 do something life – or even – world changing.”
Minister for the Year of Engineering Nusrat Ghani added: “Celebrating creative, innovative engineers from all backgrounds is at the heart of the Year of Engineering, so it’s fantastic that these awards put trailblazing women in the spotlight.
“Thanks to the efforts of so many inspiring individuals and organisations, we are beginning to see a positive shift in girls’ attitudes towards careers in engineering. I have no doubt that today’s winners and finalists will play a crucial role in continuing to show girls what they could achieve as engineers – and why we need them to be part of shaping the world around us.”
The winners were announced at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony on 6 December at IET London: Savoy Place.
This year’s YWE Awards were sponsored by Analog Devices, BAE Systems, Boeing, BP, Canal & River Trust, Civil Aviation Authority, Coca Cola, GCHQ, GSK, Leonardo, MBDA, Network Rail, Nucleargraduates, Ofcom, RAF, Royal Mail, Royal Navy, RS Components, Spirit Energy, Teledyne e2v, Wiley and WMG University of Warwick.
For more information, visit www.theiet.org/ywe.