International Women’s Day 2024 Inspiring Inclusion in Engineering

International Women’s Day 2024: Inspiring Inclusion in Engineering

Today is International Women’s Day and the theme this year is Inspire Inclusion. It is a theme that we fully support here at SL Controls, and it is part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy.

To mark International Women’s Day 2024 and this year’s theme, we spoke to some of SL Controls’ female employees to get their views on inspiring inclusion.

Diane Maher, Systems Engineer

“I was the only female in the student body for engineering in my institution for the first three years of my degree. There was some hesitation from me at the start, but as time went on, I realized I was here to complete my studies, not to fit in. I think it’s important to realize we are all on our own journey.

“I think change begins in the attitude of the female engineer, in building confidence and strength. That also means getting women more comfortable with the fact there are still more men than women in the engineering industry. Hopefully, that will continue to change.

“Campaigns like Inspire Inclusion help us to feel noticed for some pitfalls we may come across and highlighting Inclusion is especially important. Sometimes we can feel left out by default, as horrible as a feeling that is, we can conquer it by coming together in female groups of our own to empower and instill confidence in each other.

“To make engineering more inclusive for women I think the industry should do more to support women and help them get a good start in their careers. We also need to make women engineers more visible. When I was researching my course there wasn’t much online as what was there was from America. It is better today but we still need to see women engineers more and more to take account and detail of the female experience.

“It is important to teach girls about the benefits of engineering when they are young. I was introduced to engineering myself at a young age. Realizing how much it blended with my skills and my interests so young helped me make the decision down the line.

“My view is that women bring different skills to the table and diversity in general is beneficial for everyone. Diversity is what makes us stronger, so that’s why inclusion is important.”

Nav Dharni, Project Manager

“I graduated with a master’s in chemical engineering in England in 2018 and began my career on an engineering leadership graduate scheme working in the gas and electricity industry. I got exposure to a lot of different areas of engineering during this time, so it was a good experience for me.

“But I could see the stereotype still existed that engineering is a career dominated by men. Around 75 percent of my university course was male, and I am now in a team at work that is 85 percent male. My experience at university was good and it has reflected and prepared me for what the engineering industry would look like.

“I think awareness on what engineering careers look like needs to start at school as there is not enough awareness. An engineer is not just someone who wears PPE and spends their time outside. I’m primarily desk-based most of the time, so the perception is different from the reality. My experience has shown engineering is inclusive for women and I have not felt disadvantaged. But there is lad banter, and as a female in the industry, you learn to have to tolerate it.
“Change has to happen from the top down. I am seeing a shift in leadership roles where there are more female leaders in engineering departments now. That will inspire more females to come into the industry. There are challenges, but there are so many exciting opportunities for women in engineering.”

Shauna Ryan, Director of People and Culture

“Inclusion and inspiring inclusion are very important, and it is something that we continuously need to work at. One of the things I cover in our diversity, equity, and inclusion training at SL Controls is perception versus intent. When engaging with others, it is not our intent that is the key element but the perception from the other side. My advice is if you think something will offend another person, don’t say it.

“So, everyone has a responsibility to make the workplace more inclusive, but we also have to continue our collective efforts across the industry to improve the gender balance. The thing that will accelerate change faster than anything else is having more female engineers. And it will be a snowball effect. If you want to be it, you have to see it. The more women there are in engineering the more they will be seen and the more inspiration there will be for other females to pursue an engineering career.”