STEM Matters: IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards

Author : Mark Gradwell | Editor | EPDT

05 February 2020

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The IET’s prestigious & long-running Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards have been celebrating women working in engineering since 1978 – and aim to help change the perception that engineering is predominantly a career for men by banishing outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats & dirty overalls.

This column was originally featured in the February 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

As well as highlighting female engineering talent, the YWE Awards seek to find role models who can help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis by promoting engineering careers to more girls and women. Only 12% of those working in engineering and technical occupations are women (source: Engineering UK).

The winners of 2019's 42nd annual YWE Awards were announced at IET London: Savoy Place on 5th December 2019. Three exceptional young female engineers were recognised in a ceremony hosted by broadcaster, comedian and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Sandi Toksvig. Broadcaster and diversity advocate, June Sarpong, recently appointed as the BBC’s first Director of Creative Diversity, also spoke at the event.

IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year

IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year was awarded to Ying Wan Loh (28), a Manufacturing Engineer for Rolls-Royce. Ying completed an MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture & Management at the University of Cambridge. During this time, she co-founded a technology start-up that developed rapidly and won the CSSA UK High-Tech Entrepreneurship Bronze Award. As a keen STEM ambassador, Ying aspires to combine her passion in arts and engineering to engage and inspire the next generation of engineers.

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On winning, she said: “I am so honoured to receive this award. This award isn’t just about me, it’s about all the outstanding women changing the world through engineering. The IET gives female engineers a voice to be heard and I want to use this platform to raise the profile of women in STEM and capture the imagination of young girls everywhere, showing them that they too can be an engineer.

IET Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices

Samantha Magowan (21) is an Applications Engineer for Dale Power Solutions. Samantha started out in a rotational apprenticeship, trying all business departments to find out exactly what she liked. In her current role, Samantha works out customers’ exact requirements and then figures out solutions.

After winning the award, she said: “It feels amazing to have my work recognised on a national scale. Apprenticeships are a fantastic route to take and I want to thank my company for the amazing opportunities they have given me.

Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Award

Dr Claire Lucas (33) is an Associate Professor of Systems & Information Engineering at the University of Warwick. Claire is a Director of Studies for Systems & Information Engineering, where she is responsible for teaching activity in Systems, Biomedical & General Engineering. She was recognised for her dedication to inspiring the future generation of female engineers.

She said on winning: “It feels amazing to have won this prize. It is my passion that no girl will ever be the only girl in a science or maths class, or have their voice ignored – it’s why I do what I do.

Finalists Charlotte Buffey (Material Laboratories Degree Apprentice, Rolls-Royce), Amber O’Connor (Engineering Programme Manager/Equipment Health Monitoring & Performance, Siemens) and Shrouk El-Attar (Electronic Design Engineer, Renishaw) were all highly commended. All winners and finalists will play an ambassadorial role for the engineering and technology professions in the forthcoming months, promoting engineering careers to girls and young people.

New to the awards this year, the IET created the Gender Diversity Ambassador Award, which recognises an individual’s hard work in achieving gender equality within the engineering industry. The award aims to showcase innovation and good practice, recognising the support and encouragement of women in STEM careers.

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This was won by Wing Commander Glynis Dean. Glynis led the Royal Air Force Youth & Diversity Team from its inception in 2008 until she retired in December 2018. She was among the first to recognise that a growing gap in the availability of STEM skills nationally would impact the long-term future of the RAF, so she grew the RAF Youth & Diversity programme, with the driving aim of encouraging more girls to choose STEM subjects at GCSE and consider a career in engineering.

Glynis was nominated by her RAF colleagues for being an inspiration and making a significant contribution to engineering gender diversity by attracting and retaining women in engineering. On winning, she said: “I am honoured and delighted to be the first recipient of this award. Improving the gender balance in engineering is a marathon rather than a sprint, requiring commitment, drive and staying power.

Jo Foster, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at the IET, said: “I’d like to congratulate our fantastic winners and highly commended recipients of this year’s Awards. They are inspirational and a real credit to the engineering profession – and will play a huge part in altering the perception of what a career in engineering and technology can look like. It’s vital we champion engineering careers to the next generation – it’s a diverse, creative and exciting career, which offers the opportunity to do something life – or even – world-changing.


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