WES announces theme & sponsors for this year's International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), 23 June 2021

11 February 2021

INWED21 logo
INWED21 logo

The Women’s Engineering Society (WES), the oldest professional UK body for women in engineering, is pleased to announce that the theme of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), 23 June 2021, will be ‘Engineering Heroes’. #INWED21 #EngineeringHeroes

INWED is only made possible through sponsorship and in 2021 we are delighted to announce the following organisations are providing their support: Boeing; Cranfield University; Dornan Engineering; Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB); GCHQ; Institute of Refrigeration; Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team; OPITO; Royal Academy of Engineering; Royal Air Force; and V12 Footwear.

What is INWED and why do we need it?

Now in its eighth year, International Women in Engineering Day, on 23 June, is the only day in the calendar that celebrates women in engineering and allied professions. It is coordinated from the UK by WES, which founded the event in 2014.

INWED is the world’s biggest initiative celebrating the achievements of women in engineering and allied roles. An annual international awareness-raising campaign and mass participation event, it has gone from strength to strength. In 2020, the global audience reach was more than 100 million people and the campaign hashtag trended #1 in the UK on the day. It consists of hundreds of events, from talks, tours and debates to competitions, virtual site visits, videos and campaigns, all under the #INWED banner and organised by people around the world – from Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, to Nepal, Nigeria, Ecuador, USA and Australia, among many other countries. In 2020, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, INWED turned wholly to digital engagement and proved equally, if not more, successful in its global reach.

Latest figures show that just under 13% of the engineering workforce is female. INWED gives women engineers around the world a profile when they are still hugely under-represented in their professions. As the only platform of its kind, it plays a vital role in encouraging more girls and young women to take up engineering careers.

The 2021 theme: #EngineeringHeroes

Each year, INWED activity is focused on a topical theme and this year, it is ‘Engineering Heroes’. Engineers around the world have played a major role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the extraordinary public health crisis that we are all experiencing has brought into sharp focus how they also deliver and maintain critical services and infrastructure, keep civic society functioning at every level, and support lives and livelihoods. They are also undertaking world-leading research and innovation to tackle the long-term, structural global challenges of our time, especially climate change.

So INWED 2021 will be profiling the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering, but it’s as much about everyday ‘heroics’ as emergency ones – how engineering affects every single aspect of our daily lives.

Elizabeth Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer, Women's Engineering Society said: "In one of the most challenging years that any of us has experienced, INWED will be a positive worldwide celebration of the incredible work done by female engineers in keeping us safe and secure – not just in response to the pandemic itself, but also behind the scenes every day of our lives. Our theme, #Engineering Heroes will give these amazing women their much-deserved turn in the spotlight."

In spring 2021, WES will be inviting everyone to submit their events and activities for INWED 2021 and will be providing a wealth of resources that everyone can use to organise their own special INWED activity celebrating women in engineering. WES will also be announcing plans for this year’s ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering’ Awards, which recognise the wealth of female talent within engineering and related disciplines annually.

To keep up to date with plans for INWED 2021, sign up to our newsletter at inwed.org.uk or follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @INWED1919

INWED21 sponsor logos all
INWED21 sponsor logos all

Our INWED21 Sponsors & their Engineering Heroes

INWED is only made possible through sponsorship and in 2021 we are delighted to announce the following organisations are providing their support: Boeing; Cranfield University; Dornan Engineering; Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB); GCHQ; Institute of Refrigeration; Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team; OPITO; Royal Academy of Engineering; Royal Air Force; and V12 Footwear.

Our sponsors can themselves tell stories of engineering heroism, both frontline and behind the scenes. Here are just a few examples.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is recognising the contributions that the engineering community has made in helping society address the challenges of the pandemic by making a number of President’s Special Awards for Pandemic Service. Among these are two teams, at the National Physical Laboratory and at University College London with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, who respectively designed and built prototype ventilators and developed and manufactured breathing aids for use in hospitals.

During the first months of the pandemic, a small group of Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ designers and engineers started work on a new design for a ventilation shield. Named the Zephyr, its purpose was to enable surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses to care for patients and at the same time be protected from respiratory diseases. The Zephyr team have now received fast track approval from the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and are now working at double the planned rate to manufacture the Zephyr systems and deliver them to hospitals.

Since the start of the pandemic, Boeing teams across the UK have worked alongside the Armed Forces to support the UK government’s COVID-19 response. The RAF Odiham Chinook Support Centre, a joint RAF and Boeing team, produced 3D-printed clips that made personal protective equipment (PPE) more comfortable for National Health Service (NHS) workers. Boeing’s state-of-the-art analysis, experimentation and engagement facility in Hampshire was also offered for mathematical modelling and data analysis.

Food security is a major global concern. ‘Lockdown Lettuce Beds’ is a citizen science project involving people living in Bedfordshire, UK, growing lettuce in their own gardens. It’s part of a two-year research project bringing together scientists and experts at Cranfield University, the University of Liverpool and Lancaster University. The project investigates whether growing more of our own food, particularly in urban areas, could lead to better health, wellbeing and resilience, especially during crises such as the pandemic.

2020 demonstrated that there is a hero in all of us. COVID-19 caused us to care for and protect our communities to a greater extent than ever before. Engineers from Dornan and its project partner worked with a charity supporting vulnerable children, who needed ongoing support, to help deliver a much-needed garden, playground area, new greenhouse and chicken shed. Dornan continues to recognise the importance of early engagement opportunities by working with apprentices and securing a more diverse team and, in turn, is delighted to use their engineering skills to benefit a community, which is local to some of these female team members.

Today, we are reliant on effective IT more than ever. Given the nature of their work, employees at GCHQ in the UK previously spent nearly all their work time in their offices. So, when COVID-19 appeared, none of the normal HR and finance apps that they use day to day could be accessed at home. Within weeks their own female-led team of engineering heroes had developed the vital apps needed, in a secure and accessible way.

Key workers, maintaining and building infrastructure, still go out to work each day, while many of us can do our jobs remotely, from the safety of our homes. In the last year, V12 has been the proud supplier of footwear to thousands of women in the sector. Working at speed, it made and delivered over 200 pairs of boots in under 3 hours, to workers within the temporary Nightingale Hospital projects in the UK – supporting critical workers to stay safe while saving lives.

More of these stories will appear on the INWED website and social media as we look towards the day of celebration on 23 June – we look forward to hearing about your engineering heroes too!

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