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The most inspirational female engineers and scientists #INWED2017

Posted by: Katherine Garratt 23 Jun 17 - 12:58PM  | Engineering

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

The most inspirational female engineers and scientists #INWED2017

Today marks the Women’s Engineering Society’s (WES) fourth International Women in Engineering Day, a day of events and online activities planned by schools, colleges, universities, industry bodies, businesses, and individual engineers.

Their 2016 research shows that only 9% of the engineering workforce is female which means that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.  By comparison Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead the stats with more than 30%.

The aim of the day is to have people all over the world celebrate the great achievements of women engineers and to encourage more girls and women to consider engineering and STEM as a career.  We didn't want to miss the chance to raise the profile of women in engineering and so we have asked our team members which female STEM pioneer most inspire them.

From historical icons to present day industry heads and colleagues - the responses reflect a wide range of achievements. Why not encourage the girls you know to think about a career in the engineering, science and technology industries?


Katie Chick, Brize Norton, nominated by Lucy Edgar, HR Business Partner

This is easy for me. My most inspirational female engineer is my second cousin Katie Chick. She was one of only two female engineers accepted on the Flybe engineering programme (out of 100) and came top of the class. All the guys who started the programme sniffing at why a girl was there, now have to report to her!  She’s had a really successful career, currently working at Brize Norton and I am very proud of her!

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Sallyann Hale, Mettis Aerospace, nominated by Matthew Heath, Associate Director

I worked with Sally when she first joined Mettis Aerospace as a Quality Engineer. She has since then developed a specialist metallurgical expertise and with her positive and professional approach, now enjoys as the leading engineer within her field in the organisation.

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Ada Lovelace and Danella Bagnall, 
nominated by Lisa Obsorne, Recruitment Consultant


Ada Lovelace (née Byron; 1815 –1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and created the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a "computing machine" and the first computer programmer.

Present day, I admire Danella Bagnall who is currently EVP Product Engineering China / Asia Pacific Region for Jaguar Land Rover. I recently heard her speak at an event and was blown over by her achievements and her passion for engineering. She is making a fantastic contribution to encourage more young women into engineering.

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Marissa Mayer and Margaret Hamilton
, nominated by Tobias Cieslik, Recruitment Consultant

There are a couple of women that really stand out for me.  The first is Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Yahoo, who ran one of the largest internet companies for 5 years after starting her career as a self proclaimed "nerd" at Google. 

I also really admire Margaret Hamilton who developed the in-flight software for NASA, which included algorithms designed for the Apollo command module, lunar lander, and the Skylab, putting men on the moon in 1969!

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Marie Curie, nominated by Gemma Skidmore, Consultant

I truly admire Marie Curie - she is remembered for her discovery of radium and polonium. From humble beginnings, she went on to have a profound career hugely impacting medical research. She developed the theory of and coined the term “radioactivity” and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.

A Marie Curie quote; "Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood."

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Roma Agrawal, nominated by Mark Booker, Associate Director - Client Services

I think Roma Agrawal is fantastic.  Roma describes her job as “making buildings and bridges stand up.” The most prominent achievement of Roma’s career to date may be helping build London’s iconic Shard; but for me the highlight was her first project: the Northumbria University Bridge, as Roma started work on it at the age of only 22 – what an astonishing feat!

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Rosalind Franklin, nominated by Ray Greenman, Senior Recruitment Consultant

Rosalind Franklin was a British bio-physicist and X-ray crystallographer who made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite. Although her works on coal and viruses were appreciated in her lifetime, her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA were largely recognised posthumously.

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Joan Clarke and the Bletchley women, nominated by Katherine Garratt, Marketing & Events Business Partner

I really admire the work of Joan Clarke at Bletchley Park - the location for the UK's code breaking efforts during WW2. Due to the Official Secrets Act, much of her crucial work is still cloaked in mystery – as too is the hidden fact that women made up the majority of the ground breaking team. Nicknamed the Bletchleyettes, they made a significant contribution to the code breaking efforts during the Second World War.

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Dr Shirley Jackson, nominated by Jayne Wogan, Head of Client Services

This inspirational theoretical physicist was the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT, in 1973. While working at Bell Laboratories, she conducted breakthrough scientific research with subatomic particles that enabled others to invent the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fibre optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting. Imagine what our lives would be like now without this amazing woman!

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT A CAREER IN ENGINEERING?  Visit the Women's Engineering Society website: www.wes.org.uk.

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