Plant & Works Engineering
Female engineers triumph on U.N. day
Published:  19 February, 2016

Women engineers are celebrating being the very best of British – after a glittering red-carpet ceremony in London. As United Nations Women & Girls in Science Day dawned, (February 11th) – British women were ‘cleaning up’ at the Semta Skills Awards held at The Hilton Park Lane – industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony.

More women than ever before had been nominated for an award and one, Emma England, was judged to be the very ‘Best of British’.

Emma, aged 26, from Exmoor, a Loads and Aeroelastics engineer at aerospace and defence giants Airbus Operations Ltd, Filton, Bristol, beat off strong opposition to win the most coveted award.

Emma gained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering MEng at Bristol University and recently completed the Airbus graduate scheme.

She said: “I have a huge amount of drive and energy to develop Airbus as a business and myself and other people around me. I have a real passion to advance engineering as a sector.

“I have also run lessons, workshops and careers fairs at local schools. I believe that engineering is an option for everyone regardless of background or circumstance.

“When I am at schools or talking to young people I enjoy taking the time to explain the different roles and opportunities available in an engineering company like Airbus.”

Ann Watson, CEO of Semta, the employer-led organisation tasked with skilling Britain, said: “Not long ago women cleaning up at an engineering awards ceremony – would have had different connotations.

“Maybe there are glimmers of a new dawn of diversity on the horizon. Semta will continue to work tirelessly to help make this happen.

“Congratulations to Emma – she is a very worthy winner – and an icon for other young women to follow.”

Three women were presented with awards: Emma England winning Best of British & Graduate of the Year, Joanna Sharples from BAE Systems winning Higher Apprentice of the Year and Dawn Bonfield from the Women’s Engineering Society for Diversity.

Semta Chairman, Allan Cook CBE, told the 500 strong audience – which included captains of industry, government officials and young apprentices – that Semta celebrated diversity.

“This evening has more significance to the future of our nation – than the BAFTA’s or the BRITS, the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards.

“You will, I am sure, have read about the controversy at the Academy Awards about issues of diversity and inclusion.

“In engineering and advanced manufacturing we have similar issues and it is restricting our ability to survive and grow. Today in engineering we have less than 8% women; 5% from ethnic minority groups and only 10% with disabilities.

“We have to open up our workforce to a more diverse and inclusive population. I am delighted to announce this evening that there are more women nominated for an award tonight than ever before.

“Great news, a big step forward but we have a long way to go.”

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