Breaking Barriers in Male Dominated Professions

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by Rebekah Valero-Lee on

From a Technical Aircraft Fitter to an Avionics Supervisor to a Logistics Planner, we interviewed some inspiring female engineers in a recent visit to the Royal Naval Air Station in YeoviltonWe discussed how they got into the ever-changing industry that is engineering, what they love about it and ultimately, how they continue to break down barriers in terms of what we perceive as ‘engineers’.

Find your place

“I feel at home surrounded by people from the forces and the aviation industry is the only place I feel like I really belong” is what at least two of the women say. The same feeling of being in the right place at the right time was given from the other engineers – who all share an interest in taking things apart and then putting it all back together, culminating in the satisfaction when it all works. Lesleyann Robinson, currently a Logistics Planner, indicates “it’s about finding your place with what you love”. Lesleyann was in the navy for 30 years after initially joining as a Wren, and has had nothing but a really diverse career. She’s been an aircraft engineer to a ship firefighter to an AT Instructor but she’s always been drawn back to what she loves, helicopters. Although now Lesleyann is on the civilian side, she highlights that just by working in the same environment as the aircrafts, it makes her feel at home.

Changes in time

Lesleyann explains that “females bring a lot to the industry” as they have a calmness and sense of organisation and sequence that then has a knock-on effect to the rest of the squadron. One thing is evident, all women agree that times have changed in the industry, there is not only more support out there now for female engineers but also more opportunities and avenues to go down when pursuing a career in the industry. However, there is still a clear distinction between the number of males compared to females in the sector.

Memorable moments

All of the women had a lot to say as to why they love their jobs. For Lesleyann, it was when she was AT instructing and the feeling she got whilst helping a student believe in themselves. Whereas, for others it’s the variety; “I never get bored, there is always something to do and there are so many different facets of it that need to be covered”. Therefore, one thing is for certain, although engineering can be challenging at times, there are also so many triumphs and personal goals to be had.

Advice from one to another

To budding female engineers who are interested in the industry Tracey Roberts, an Avionics Supervisor emphasises, “Definitely do it, you’ll enjoy it”. It’s important to do what interests you, and if that’s engineering then go for it, the industry is full of amazing opportunities. Similarly, Louise Harper stresses to have an open mind and go with the flow, everything in life can be a challenge but if you break it down, just like she does with an aircraft, step by step you will get where you want to be.


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