Did you know in the UK, only 11% of the engineering workforce is female? * Although this has increased slightly in the last few years, there is still a long way to go.
We spoke to electronic engineering student, Althea, about her journey being a young Black woman pursuing electronic engineering and how she is excited to see more young women get involved in STEM.
Electronic Engineering Student
What made you want to pursue a career in Engineering?
It was recommended to me by my Father. When growing up, I enjoyed making model props and up-cycling whatever I could find around. Engineering allows me to use that creativity to solve problems and make things from parts to products.
What drew you to the field?
I remember watching shows when I was younger like Medabots and the Iron Man movies. I would think to myself ‘I want to build my own Iron Man suit’ and I certainly feel like I’m learning the fundamentals of how to get there. Give me a year or two and I’ll soon be flying around in a suit I’ve made!
What’s the best work placement/experience you have completed and why?
Although it wasn't directly related to engineering, my first apprenticeship at Mondelez, Cadbury really allowed me to grow my confidence. I took the apprenticeship straight out of school and it was a learning experience on how to operate in a male-dominated field. I was pushed to learn quickly both in terms of education and emotional growth.
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What has been your experience overall on the course and how has it prepared you for your future career?
University was a big step for me. I studied the BEng Electronic Engineering course part-time, so finding a balance between studying and other responsibilities was challenging, but it allowed me to become better at time management. I also learned to be more confident with decision-making and trying new things. This is all very important when beginning your career.
What advice would you give to other women who are considering a profession in electronic engineering?
Don’t be afraid. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to come against many barriers in this field (particularly as a young Black woman) but that doesn’t mean you don’t belong there. There are always going to hurdles, but use that as motivation to aim even higher.
What do you think the future will look like for female engineers?
I’m excited to see more young women involved in the future of STEM. I would also like to see more projects and awards given to young people, to encourage them to get involved. I know when I was in school, I did not know very much about engineering and the range of careers you can go into. In particular, the discussion should be introduced to young female students.
The women in STEM today can help raise the women in STEM of the future.
* WES Women in Engineering Statistics 2018