WOMEN ENGINEERING SUCCESSFUL CAREERS AT DUPONT – But engineering still needs more women!
Today is National Women in Engineering Day and the science company DuPont, which has a unit in Derry~Londonderry producing DuPontTM Kevlar® fibre, celebrated the achievements of women in engineering by inviting girls’ schools to the plant for an inspirational day of learning.
The event was hosted by Petra Grashoff, who is the first female plant manager in the company’s 50 year history at the site, and other female members of the engineering team at DuPont.
Petra said: “It is important to change the traditional thinking that a job in engineering is considered something that men do and not for the girls. I’d like to, during my tenure as plant manager, inspire young women to find out more about engineering roles.
“It’s vital that young women are encouraged to take more of an interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects at school and I hope that by showing them that a career in engineering is rewarding with fantastic prospects, that they will choose a job in this field.”
Former business secretary, Vince Cable, said that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10%, while Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30%. And according to The State of Engineering, the UK needs to double the number of recruits into engineering to meet demand.
Petra continued: “I feel the opportunities for women in the UK are excellent and there is much more diversity than other places I have worked. But it is vital that we inspire interest in engineering at a young age.
“As a company, we regularly reach out to schools, offering prizes for STEM related tasks as well as creating our own competitions, so we are constantly engaging with young minds and hopefully inspiring them to choose a job in this field.”
Royal Academy of Engineering reported that between 2012 and 2020, the UK economy will require 830,000 professional scientists, engineers and technologists, largely to replace those leaving engineering practice, for example, through retirement. This works out at over 100,000 additional STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduates each year. (Currently there are 90,000 STEM graduates per year in the UK).
“I would encourage anyone, male or female, who wants to learn more about working as an engineer, to speak to their teacher, careers advisor, lecturer, and get more information about what is possible,” continued Petra. “It’s a big world out there and a career in engineering can not only allow you to explore it but it will also bring financial security and offer diversity, as no two days are ever the same.”
In its Derry~Londonderry plant, DuPont makes Kevlar®, which was invented by a woman, Stephanie Kwolek (who died last year) in 1965. Kevlar® is extraordinarily strong, lightweight and on an equal-weight basis, five times stronger than steel. It is best known for its use in protective garments but is something that every one of us will have, at some point, come into contact with without ever realising it.
“Because of continuing research and development at DuPont, the uses for Kevlar® increase all of the time,” said Petra. “Kevlar® has been used in space missions, deep sea cabling but also in more everyday things like bicycles, skateboards, trainers, helmets, I could go on.”
There is a growing shortage of engineers across many fields so the future is bright for those who choose a career in this industry.
Petra concluded: “I’m proof that women can make it to the top in a job more associated with men so gender should never be a reason someone decides not to pursue a career in engineering. I would encourage anyone considering a career in engineering to do some research and find out more about what’s out there. I did and I have never looked back.”
DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment. For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit http://www.dupont.com.