Engineering Our Future: Women Like Me

Last year UWE based initiative ‘Women Like Me’ launched their project which aimed to open doors to girls and build resilience for women in engineering. The project is led by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs. A mentoring scheme was designed to pair senior women engineers with junior women engineers to provide them with support as they started out in their careers. Junior women also undertook educational outreach in schools in the Bristol and Bath area. During the year the Leaders Award was developed which provides children with the opportunity to hear from engineers from a variety of backgrounds and industries, and prompted them to answer the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” The year-long has project hosted numerous networking events, conferences and workshops to show engineering as the creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline that it is. It established a successful mentoring programme, created effective leaders and crucially inspired young girls to choose paths in STEM.

For their final event, which closed the year-long project focusing on women in STEM, Women Like Me held a workshop which connected with Women in Science and Engineering Bristol, the Women’s Engineering Society centenary and Curiosity Connections Bristol. The session focused on exploring the concept of emotional intelligence with Caroline Morris from Wide Eyed Group Leadership Consultancy. Morris delivered a talk on the importance of developing human skills and emotional intelligence in relation to careers in STEM industries. Emotional intelligence covers a wider spectrum of human skills from self-awareness, adaptability, resilience and optimism to how straightforward we are and are perceived to be. Morris has identified a lack of prioritisation for these traits within science and engineering sectors and based her talk on justifying and promoting the significance they can have in the workplace.

Designed to inspire participants to unpick the tools to create a supportive workplace environment for women based on ‘Thinking, Being and Doing’, the activities centred around emotional intelligence promoted conscious decision-making, self-awareness, self-management and social awareness through communication, problem solving and relationship building. The aim of the workshop was to create a ‘Mentoring Manifesto’ to pass onto to local STEM businesses and organisations to follow when considering how women are treated within the workplace. The session highlighted a desire for increased women’s networks, flexible approaches to working practices and attitudes of assuming positive intent. Based on principals of togetherness, supportiveness, equality and sharing, the manifesto for the Women Like Me’s final event was curated. When speaking with Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers at the end of the workshop, she explained that local businesses will now receive the manifesto as a guideline for appreciating women in work.

One of the side ventures also introduced within the project has been the ‘Wikithon’. This joint venture between UWE and WES – The Women’s Engineering Society – encouraged volunteers to set about editing Wikipedia to increase visibility of women in STEM. Revisiting and rewriting a traditionally male-dominated and gendered history has never been more topical and this initiative has help ensure that female engineers and in other STEM roles, past and present, are afforded the recognition that they deserve.

Check out the Women Like Me blog page to find out more and keep updated with their amazing work:

Article by BWV Community Reporter Emma Wall

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