Find out about the variety and flexibility of engineering
Women in STEM We spoke to three engineers about "the perfect career for young women looking to keep their options open."
A job as an Engineer provides a chance to get so many different skills. Aoife Grogan says girls with an interest in engineering have more opportunity to plot their path now then ever before.
"Honestly, I have never considered any career other than engineering. I was lucky to attend a school that had a real focus on STEM subjects. Engineering was always my favourite. However, I know others don’t get the same exposure at that vital age, which is disappointing.
"I’m a Field Operations Engineer, which means I co-ordinate maintenance projects on the ground from start to finish. I have to plan for health and safety and quality-control while conscious of environmental impacts. Good communication skills are so important as I liaise with local authorities, customers, landowners and many other key stakeholders. It’s a real eclectic role, which I relish.
"It has been a male-dominated industry, but that is changing. More needs to be done to educate girls on the prospects within engineering. Gaining a knowledge of what’s out there in the world of engineering is most important when it comes to career choice.
"There are exhibitions like ‘iWish’ that are perfect for girls thinking of a career in engineering. These exhibitions improve STEM branding among young women, encouraging girls to pursue a career in engineering and giving an insight into the broad spectrum of opportunities within STEM."
Niamh Conroy was one of eight girls on an 80 person Civil Engineering course. Her journey to Senior Operations Engineer has seen her gain a variety of skills and she says young girls should aim high.
"I was quite fortunate to attend a secondary school where I had the opportunity to study technical subjects. It gave me a solid footing for a career in engineering.
"Although engineering is challenging, it is such an interesting and diverse career. And although it involves working in a (predominantly) male atmosphere, it absolutely shouldn’t put any girl off a career in engineering.
"When I was studying civil engineering, there approximaly only 10% of the students were female. In the last three to four years, though, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of women in my work. In particular, the operations and construction side of the business, which traditionally would have been very male-dominated. This is a very positive step.
"I do believe in encouraging more females into the engineering sector. Exposure to female engineers needs to start as early as primary schools, and STEM programmes really help that.
"My advice? Follow what interests you. There will be challenges as there are in any career, but you mustn’t get disheartened. I’m so fortunate to have a career that interests me and allows me flexibility and balance in my life. It’s a career I highly recommend."
Sinead Conlan wasn’t sure what she wanted to be at school, but found a career as a Best Practice Engineer the perfect way to keep her options open.
"Like many students in school, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to follow. I liked problem-solving and STEM subjects, so Engineering seemed like an obvious option for me.
"Having options and having a flexible and diverse degree was important to me. I looked at Engineering and saw an opportunity to gain an excellent professional qualification with a wide range of skills, which would also be very attractive to a wide range of potential future employers.
"My dad is an Engineer, which definitely helped, but generally I was intrigued by the opportunity to have so much diversity in my working life.
"No two days are the same, which just isn't true of so many jobs. From being part of a National Network Operations Team who successfully maintained gas supplies to power stations and vulnerable customers during Hurricane Ophelia and the recent 'Beast from the East', to rolling out 6S Lean Process Improvement on the gas network, to helping establish innovative new technology on the network such as Renewable Gas and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), every day is so different and has interesting new adventures and challenges.
"Right now, it’s a really exciting time in Gas Networks Ireland, it's all about Renewable Gas and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). By 2030, our challenge is to ensure that 20% of the gas flowing through our network is from a renewable source.
"There are fantastic opportunities for young women who wish to opt for a career in STEM/Engineering. With so many innovations and technological advances on the horizon, there’s an opportunity for everyone to get involved and play their part."