Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day, an Engineering Manager’s perspective

Marine People

International Women in Engineering Day, this year on the 23rd June 2017, is an annual celebration of the fantastic impact that women make to engineering internationally.  It aims to recognise the women already working in the industry, and showcase the opportunities to future generations.

In support of this important day, Marine People and the IMarEST will be showcasing amazing international female engineers in our weekly blog.  We want to demonstrate the diverse roles available within engineering, the career development opportunities, and provide some insight in to what it is like to be a female engineer in various parts of the world.  We are passionate about showcasing the fabulous opportunities to women in maritime engineering, because we believe it is an exciting, varied and progressive career.

So, let us introduce this weeks featured engineer:

Gail Gemmell, Functional Integration Power and Propulsion Engineering Manager, working for a major shipbuilder based in Scotland.

  • How long have you been in engineering and what is your role?

I left university in 2008 and joined BAE Systems the same year (almost 9 years). I am currently the Type 26 Functional Integration Power and Propulsion Engineering Manager.

  • Why did you become an engineer?

I became an engineer by chance.  Whilst choosing my degree I was uncertain of which path I should take. During school I was good at maths and physics, and wanted to continue doing these subjects in more depth, whilst also looking at the job prospects at the end of university. Engineering was the obvious choice.

  • What are the best parts of your role?

Seeing your design become reality. I am yet to work through a full lifecycle of a warship design, although I have been working on Type 26 power and propulsion from the concept design stages. By working through the upcoming build, I will be very proud to see the Type 26 eventually go to sea, which will be the culmination of years of hard work and effort.

  • What challenges have you encountered?

Numerous throughout the lifecycle , but this is the main reason that engineering can never be classed as dull and repetitive. You are always seeking ways to better your design, and as a result of this, provide a better product to the end customer, in our case the Royal Navy.

  • Why is it important to get more women in to engineering?

Versatility, there are various traits that women by nature would bring to engineering that do not come naturally to men, and vice versa. Women are just as capable of solving complex engineering problems as men.  It’s just the stereotype that engineering is a mans job that needs to be broken.

  • What would you say to girls still in school who are thinking about engineering? How would you encourage them?

Why not? Engineering can be a very rewarding and prosperous career, and just because you are female that doesn’t mean that you should steer you away from it.  In fact, if anything, it should encourage you even more to consider engineering as a career path.

  • What advice do you have for students just starting out?

Choose your job carefully. Upon leaving university you will have many opportunities to shape the next 40 + years. Engineering could lead you in so many directions that you must choose the one that interests you the most.

For more information on International Women in Engineering Day please visit http://www.inwed.org.uk/