What does an engineer look like? You might imagine a man in a hard hat, or perhaps a man in a lab coat – but whatever the attire, the truth is that most of us would imagine a man. It is precisely this default that a new photographic exhibition aims to challenge.
Women Engineers – portraits of the changing face of engineering is an exhibition by Derbyshire photographer Geraldine Curtis currently being staged at the University of Derby.
Geraldine said: “It all started with a chance conversation I had with a group of female engineers. They explained that in the UK, less than 13 per cent of all engineers are female. This led me to question why so few women take it up as a career.
“It struck me that there are too few visible role models for women in engineering. Women in the field have such a low profile. There is a real risk that girls simply don’t believe that it is a career in which they would be welcome, or that they could thrive. I felt that really ought to be addressed”.
Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO Women’s Engineering Society, said: “We were delighted when Geraldine got in touch looking for female engineering heroes. We recognise that there is a lot still to do with regards to building a bigger profile and better recognition for women in the industry.
“The members who came forward work right across a variety of disciplines – from aerospace to biotech. Which just shows you the breadth of opportunity there is for any woman considering a career in engineering”.
Tom Joyner, CrossCountry Managing Director, said: “CrossCountry is excited to be supporting Geraldine with this project. Britain’s rail industry works hard to increase diversity in its workforce and we hope this exhibition, which showcases the growing number of female engineers, will encourage and inspire others to pursue a career in rail.”
The exhibition comprises of 20 portraits of female engineers who are all STEM Ambassadors (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and regularly volunteer to visit schools and colleges to talk about exciting opportunities in engineering.
The exhibition runs until March 23 at the Markeaton Street Campus and is sponsored by CrossCountry Trains. There will be information leaflets on engineering as a career available.