To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2021 (INWED21), Sika is championing the contribution its female engineers are making to its business and the industry as a whole.
Whilst women make up only around 12% of the engineering workforce in the UK, Sika has long recognised that women have a vital role to play in maintaining a vibrant and diverse construction sector.
Now in its eighth year, International Women in Engineering Day recognises the achievements of women in engineering and raises awareness of the lack of gender diversity in the engineering industry. To correct the stereotypes and perceptions that dominate engineering as a career choice, Sika has reached out to a number of its female engineers across the UK, asking them to share their stories and the highly rewarding career path they had chosen.
With a long-held passion for science and having earned a chemistry degree from the University of Hull, Samantha Dykes decided to pursue a career in analytical chemistry, specifically in environmental analysis. This led to her current role as Quality Assurance Engineer at Sika Everbuild.
“I enjoy the variety from day to day as well as the reactive nature of the job, which can quite often mean dropping the task I am involved in and thinking on my feet to resolve an issue,” said Samantha. “There is a lot of critical thinking involved in my role and I have been able to utilise the skills from my career in analytical chemistry to help me with these. Each day provides new challenges which keeps the role interesting and me motivated.”
Samantha’s increasing confidence in the role has enabled her to start implementing permanent changes to improve the quality of the company’s products. While she said there is still heavy bias towards a male presence in the industry, she doesn’t want young women to be put off: “There are so many women in STEM who have had a massive impact on the companies they work for and there are also multiple, notable women who have changed the world.”
R&D Chemist Panassakorn Jones said her role at Sika allows her to think independently as long as she can produce results that meet targets. She is happy when she successfully develops products that meet market requirements and even happier to see those products satisfy customers. She added that for those female students looking at engineering as a career, there are loads of opportunities. A career allows you to develop your research skills whilst creating and innovating new sustainable products for the market. “If you have a passion for engineering then do not feel that being a woman will hold you back, you can do anything!” said Panassakorn.
Sian Williams, R&D Chemist at Sika UK, said that “manufacturing itself as a sector was not an area that I had actively aimed for but I wouldn’t change my decision in taking the path.” She said that no two days are the same and how being in a team working towards a common goal and the best possible outcome is incredibly motivating.
“Experience, knowledge, interest and curiosity are far more important attributes than your gender and although there is such a low number of females in the industry there is nothing to worry about. Everyone is friendly and professional, and your views and ideas are just as important as anyone else’s,” she added. As a way into the industry, Sian said that apprenticeships should not be overlooked: “These can be either standard or higher apprenticeships and will allow you to be working as well as getting qualifications at the same time. Sometimes companies will even sponsor you through some or all of your university education!”
Aimee Hitchiner said that science always made sense to her when she was younger and that hard work and effort got her to her role as Quality Control Supervisor at Sika. While as a woman she sometimes feels she needs to speak a little louder to be heard, she says that younger women considering a career in engineering should “jump at any chance you get, it is forever growing and changing. As a result you learn so much.” The engineering profession as a whole is making progress on gender and inclusivity with many women, including those at Sika, having forged happy and successful careers in engineering. Clearly, it’s a great industry to be part of.
"Tackling gender diversity will widen the talent pipeline, improve the image of the sector and will go some way to tackling the skills shortage. "