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"There's endless possibility" | Conversations for... International Women in Engineering Day

  • Publish Date: Posted 5 days ago
  • Author: James Kenealey
International Women in Engineering Dayis celebrating its 9th year on June 23rd 2022. It's a movement that Morson is hugely passionate about which gives female engineers around the world a profile and a platform to encourage more young women and girls to take up engineering careers.

AtMorson Projects’ annual conference, we sat two budding engineers from the University of Salford, both of whom are part of the Morson/Gerry Mason Scholarship Programme, with two of our qualified engineers to discuss career aspirations, industry challenges, hopes, dreams and how to encourage the next generation of women into engineering.

Ayisha Ismail completed her degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Salford through the Morson Gerry Mason Scholarship in 2021, and in September 2022 will embark on a graduate scheme at Rolls-Royce.

Anna Davanzo has worked as an aeronautical engineer at Morson Projects since February 2020 following a 10-year spell working with Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group.

Anna: What excites you about your future in engineering and what are your aspirations?

Ayisha: I think it's the endless possibility. And because there's so many companies looking to diversify their workforce at the moment and it opens up a lot of opportunity, especially for women in engineering. And I think there's loads of support out there for us now, which probably wasn't there as much when you were going into the industry? My aspirations I think are just do whatever is challenging. I love a challenge right from the beginning. I think that it will be really interesting going into the industry because it's all about challenges now.

Anna: Why do you think girls should get into engineering?

Ayisha: Because there's not a lot of girls in engineering. And I think that we need the representation, and a lot of girls are interested in STEM careers. It's just that because we don't see a lot of girls that we don't want to go into it. And looking from the outside, it's a bit like trying to get into a boy’s club. It's so hard to imagine yourself there but once you're in, I think you realize that there's a lot of opportunity for us. It's important for us to get into it.

Anna: Have there been any highlights of your degree so far?

Ayisha: Yeah, I'd have to say my final year project. I did it analysing the Delta Wing on the XB-1 supersonic flight, the Baby Boom. And I think the support I got from my supervisor and just being able to learn a new software all on my own and everything like that. It was like an insight into the industry and what I'm going to be able to do when I do go into an engineering career

Anna: I really enjoyed my final year project too. Mine was in torsional stiffness testing of a Sopwith Tabloid wing, where it did like wing warping. What is the one thing that parents can do to open their children's eyes to the possibility of STEM or engineering careers?

Ayisha: That's a hard question. I guess if they express it interest, then to help them pursue it and support them throughout it, maybe give them the opportunity to explore from a younger age. And I didn’t know I wanted to go into engineering until I did my degree.

I realized really late, but I know a lot of people express interest at a young age and it kind of gets like overshadowed by with other things like telling them to go into something else. So maybe just support them right from the beginning. I think one thing my mum and dad were really supportive and then I that really helped me to get into engineering and I think if they had been less supportive, I probably would have pursued a different career.

Ayisha: Who's helped you achieve your potential? Tell us about your heroes.

Anna: I'd say my heroes really are my mum and dad and they had such a good work ethic as I was growing up. And I think it really helped me to kind of understand that I needed to work hard to achieve my goals. My dad really pushed me towards engineering, we did a lot of making things at home, dismantling things, put them back together. And I think he really encouraged me that engineering would be a great future for me and I haven't looked back since.

Ayisha: I can totally agree with you on supportive parents because for me it's like I'm an Asian girl going to study I'm the first in my family to do university. It’s a massive deal. And my parents have been really supportive, something that's really helped. And what's the greatest challenge you had to overcome in your career today?

Anna: One thing I think gets coming into the industry quite a few years ago now, I didn't really have the support that there is now. There seems to be a lot more support for women coming into the industry than there was in a decade and a half ago. So I'd say it's really important for female leaders in the industry to stand up for young women coming into engineering and to help them and to guide them and to really smooth the path for them. And I think that's something that I didn't necessarily have. I didn't have any inspirational women that I could look to and think I want to be in high positions. And so that's something that's quite important for female leaders.

Ayisha: What advice would you give to schoolgirl you?

Anna: Go for any challenge that comes along, just go for it. I think I was quite shy at school with feeling like I didn't really belong in engineering. I looked around at my class at A-Level physics, and I was the only girl. I went to start my degree in engineering and I was the only girl. I started in the engineering office at the company I worked for when I graduated and again, I was the only female there as well. I think my advice would be just to go for it. Any challenge you've got, you can overcome it with good hard work.

​We also spoke to Ikram, an aeronautical engineering student, and Sally, who has worked at Morson Projects for over 14 years, about their shared experiences of being a woman in engineering. Click here to watch their interview.