Join us in celebrating Women in Engineering Day, which promotes diversity and inclusion in the field by highlighting the accomplishments of women engineers, challenging stereotypes, and promoting an environment where women can thrive and succeed.
While women have increased in representation over the past few decades, engineering has continued to be a male-dominated field. According to Census.gov, women represented 48% of all workers and 27% of STEM workers, and only 15% of engineers.
Numerous studies have investigated why the gender gap exists. Boys and girls, on average, perform similarly across a range of skills in schools, yet fewer girls enter STEM fields due to cultural effects like gender stereotypes learned in early childhood. To increase the number of women in engineering, girls need to be exposed to female role models at an early age. By actively supporting and recognizing female role models, we can inspire future generations of women to consider engineering as a viable and rewarding career choice.
In honor of Women in Engineering Day, we asked two female engineers from our Transport team to give us their perspectives on why they chose engineering and why it is essential for more women to enter the field.
Sarah Foster is a Technical Project Manager in Turntide’s Transport team, overseeing the Hitachi on-train battery project, an R&D project to design a bespoke battery that will replace the diesel engine as part of the Hitachi plan for decarbonization. Sarah is heavily involved in all aspects of the project, both at commercial and engineering levels.
Charlotte Dunn is a Systems Integration Engineer in the Transport team, where she works on requirements management and compliance for key programs such as project Alaska. She also supports operations, manufacturing, and engineering at Cramlington on various tasks, including skills training, electrical design, quality support and inspection, and manufacturing processes for some of our products.
Inspiration to become an engineer
“In 1988, I went to see the last flight of the RAF lightning; from that point, I wanted to be a fighter pilot,” remembers Sarah. However, recognizing the gender disparity in that field, she chose to pursue engineering to increase her chances of entering the aviation industry. Additionally, she discovered a familial connection to engineering, with her grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather having all been engineers in the merchant navy. Engineering runs in her blood, reinforcing her passion for the field. Sarah pursued her aspirations and earned a BEng (Hons) in Electronic Systems Engineering, solidifying her technical foundation.
“I have always been interested in this type of work. From a young age, I was very hands-on and loved to get involved with building and making things,” said Charlotte.
Her curiosity and drive led her to explore potential careers, and she found engineering the most compelling path. Charlotte took the initiative to enroll in an engineering college course after completing secondary school. Determined to gain practical experience alongside her studies, she secured an apprenticeship at AVID in February 2015, where she worked diligently while pursuing her degree part-time.
Why they chose to work at Turntide
After spending several years as a project engineer, designing, and supplying systems for the rail industry, Sarah took an opportunity to work for a design consultancy as a project manager. She missed the design work and hands-on engineering of creating and producing actual parts. She seized the opportunity to join Turntide, a company producing leading technology for off-highway vehicles. “It brought me back to designing and supplying systems into the rail industry. As a member of Women in Rail, I think Trains are great!”
“I chose AVID as the work was exciting and involved both practical and theoretical tasks meaning I could gain knowledge and experience from the design phase all the way through to manufacture,” said Charlotte, who is still enthusiastic after spending over eight years with Avid and Turntide.
What they enjoy about working at Turntide
One of the aspects Sarah cherishes most about working at Turntide is the collaborative and progressive environment fostered by the supportive team. The project she oversees is particularly special, as it marks the company’s inaugural foray into the rail industry. Breaking into this industry required meticulous attention to detail and unique technical expertise, and Sarah’s previous experiences have been instrumental in ensuring successful delivery.
What Charlotte appreciates most about working at Turntide is the people. At Cramlington, she experiences a cohesive team environment where everyone collaborates to achieve the company’s goals, regardless of their job roles or assignments. This sense of unity and collective effort fosters a positive work culture and fuels innovation within the organization.
Personal and professional growth opportunities at Turntide
Throughout her tenure at Turntide, Sarah has enjoyed numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. Carving out her current role, she has harnessed her diverse skill set to deliver exceptional results. Sarah takes pride in teaching and inspiring her team members, enabling them to achieve remarkable milestones together.
Charlotte has had several opportunities to grow both personally and professionally during her time at Turntide. Most notably, the company funded her degree, allowing her to enhance her engineering skills and knowledge while gaining valuable working experience. This support has empowered her to develop her expertise and excel in her field.
Advice for young women considering a STEM career
“STEM is a diverse career that can lead down many roads. Once you start, you will find the right road, even if you have a few twists and turns along the way. Believe in yourself!” She encourages young women contemplating a STEM career to embrace the journey, believe in their abilities, and never allow fear to hinder their pursuit of greatness.
Charlotte advises women interested in an engineering career to seek out a support system and never be discouraged by the attitudes and actions of those who cling to outdated beliefs. “I have been unfortunate enough to be exposed to prejudice and discrimination by a small number of people in the industry, but for every one of those people, there are 100 others that see you and treat you as the equal you are and will support you and help you grow and progress.”
Why it’s important for more women to enter the field
Sarah strongly believes in the importance of more women entering the engineering field. She echoes the sentiments of the University of Hull, emphasizing that women bring a fresh perspective to male-dominated environments. With their multitasking abilities and innovative thinking, women can think outside the box and contribute to creating a better world. By encouraging women to pursue engineering careers, Sarah envisions a future where diverse perspectives and talents shape groundbreaking solutions.
For Charlotte, it’s crucial to not only encourage more women to enter the field, but also to challenge stereotypes and prejudices within STEM sectors to foster inclusivity. She believes that everyone, regardless of identity, race, or sexual orientation, should be able to pursue any field without discrimination. Charlotte feels strongly about continuing the dialogue on creating more inclusive and accepting environments for minorities within engineering and other STEM careers.
Join us in celebrating and sharing these stories
Join us in celebrating Sarah, Charlotte, and all the outstanding women engineers at Turntide. Help us amplify their stories to encourage and inspire the next generation of women by sharing this article with the girls in your life and on social media. Also, please consider tagging someone and recognizing their work and contributions using the hashtag #INWED23.
Take the Next Step
Talk to our team to see how we can help you save energy and boost your bottom line.Schedule Consult