A huge turnout of career-minded undergraduate women attending the annual Engineer your future event last Friday were urged to be super-confident and never to apologise for being clever, ambitious or driven. The Keynote was given by Sandi Rhys Jones OBE, who has 35 years’ experience in construction and engineering, and she inspired the audience to make engineering a positive career choice. It’s important to have diversity in teams, they were told; it’s not good to have teams full of men.

In this male-dominated sector, the industry comes together at Engineer your future to promote itself as a natural home for able female engineers and to prevent the drift into finance and consulting jobs where employers are keen to benefit from their skills. The students were told that there were no barriers to success for women and that sometimes women were the biggest obstacle to progressing. Although the gender imbalance was noted, the speakers and panellists felt it was important to focus on being an engineer rather than a ‘female engineer’. And to do it with super-confidence.

Engineer your future, part of TARGETjobs Events’ national STEMinism awareness campaign, took place at the Shell Centre in London on 30 November and attracted a record attendance of 114 female engineering undergraduates from 36 universities out of the 500 who applied. They were given exclusive insights into life as a working engineer and opportunities to network with female role models from some of the biggest names in the sector: Shell, Cisco, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, Microsoft, MBDA, National Grid, Transport for London and Tube Lines all enthusiastically sponsored the event. The presence of so many big names is testimony to the commitment of the industry to attract more women.

The students took part in a series of interactive skill sessions, exploring the full range of engineering opportunities and learned why being a female in engineering can be a huge advantage in their future career. And through the STEMinism UK network, they will share their positive experiences with many other current undergraduates.

Katie Holbook, University Staffing Consultant at Microsoft commented “Engineer your future was a great event that gave us a chance to meet some of the UK’s top female engineering students. Diversity is hugely important for Microsoft as a company and this was a really unique occasion to promote the opportunities for female engineering students in the technology sector. We are committed to bringing students from a wide variety of subject areas into our Intern and Graduate programs and Engineer your future provided us with a platform to really deliver the message that the technology sector has amazing opportunities for engineering students.”

Ali Stripling, EDF Energy Future Capability & Early Careers Manager, says “EDF Energy is proud to sponsor Engineer your future. There are no limits to what the right people can achieve, as they help to deliver safe, secure and affordable low carbon electricity to the UK. Engineer your future could open many doors as well as providing a better insight into what we can offer career-ambitious female engineers.”

Grace Beckham, an engineering student at the University of Cambridge, said “Engineer your future has increased my awareness of how broad engineering is. It’s good to take opportunities. To exercise choice and accept change”.