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Burnley student: Don't be put off a career in engineering
ONLY two of the 106 new students welcomed into Burnley’s new university technical college (UTC) this week were girls.
Sophia Rahman spoke to business leaders, training professionals and students about why they believe there are still so few women chosing careers in technical industries.
SIXTEEN-year-old Nabeela Desai is taking on the boys in the male-dominated world of engineering.
She said: “I would really like to see more girls here. I’m looking forward to meeting the other girls that come here. I didn’t expect to be one of the only girls here when I applied, though everyone seems nice so far.”
Explaining her passion for engineering, Nabeela said: “Since I was little I’ve always helped my dad with jobs around the house, like joinery, though he hasn’t always let me do the heavier stuff. I don’t like being sat in lessons being taught. I’d much rather just go and make stuff and be practical. I don’t like following instructions, but everything I’ve ever built has worked. I built a combustion engine on a try out for a Rolls Royce apprenticeship. I’d like to build aeroplane engines and fix them when they break.”
Marilyn Pilkington, engagement manager at Training 2000, said: “It is my absolute passion to get the students at the UTC to be 50 per cent female and 50 per cent male.
“Girls don’t realise about the opportunities in engineering, and when they realise them, they stop wanting to be hairdressers.
“Not having female role models in the work also means they can’t imagine themselves ever doing it.
“We want to monitor girls to stop them falling at the barriers that there can be in male-dominated environments.
“There are opportunities to earn a lot of money and get a highly respected job in engineering.
“Girls don’t always believe they could do technical work well, but often they can be even better than males.”
Alicja Kay, 60, is the managing director of Hawk Electronics in Accrington, which has upgraded specialist equipment on ground-breaking scientific experiment, the Large Hadron Collider.
She said: “It’s sad there are so few girls that have enrolled at the UTC. Engineering, electronics, and other technical jobs are very interesting and challenging areas to work in. It’s certainly not exclusively for men, women are very capable and can do as good, if not better, jobs. Women shouldn’t be afraid of the word ‘technical’. Women are dextrous, more modest and have better attendance than men generally. Many employers know these benefits to hiring women. I would strongly encourage any woman with even a slight interest in technical subjects to explore it as a career path.”
Mike Damms, CEO at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “In the past, for many male-dominated jobs, you needed to have big biceps and to be strong. But with advancing technology, a lot of these jobs are changing and nowadays it’s more important to have good technical and computer skills. We know that in East Lancashire, just like the rest of the country, girls are out-performing boys in education. Girls should consider using their skills for engineering and other challenging and well-paying roles.”
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