Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Launch of 'Women in Manufacturing'

Women in Engineering Student Society Member Giulia Giobianco attended the Women in Manufacturing launch event in January.

It all happened by chance, if people still believe in coincidences.

The Women in Engineering student society organized an outreach event back in September 2013 at Notre Dame High School in Sheffield. Here we were approached by The Glass Academy, a new educational entity that brings together glass manufacturers and engineering students with potential employee's. Their aim is to map out courses already available in the UK that are related to the glass industry, gather educational material and scope out apprenticeships/job opportunities that are useful for both students and employers.

After exchanging ideas we were invited to an inspirational talk and a trip to a glass manufacturer. Also back in September Danni and Charlie from The Glass Academy were in the process of setting up a no-profit project called Women in Manufacturing - a hub for many stakeholders from the academia world through to industry aimed at promoting and incentivising women to work in manufacturing.  They invited myself and our Director of Women in Engineering, Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon to present a speech on the need for more women in engineering and manufacturing at their Women in Manufacturing launch day at the Houses of Parliament in January this year. We also saw this as a great opportunity to represent the University of Sheffield and women in engineering.

Visiting the Houses of Parliament at such an prestigious event was both daunting and exciting and when we arrived the room was packed with representative of the academia world to members of Glass Guilds as well as industry representatives. Tea and cakes were served and people started networking straight away. Although I like to talk (a lot – as I am Italian), networking always stretches my comfort zone a little farther every time, however, I loaded myself with business cards and pretend confidence and walked the room asking questions. I was determined to meet people who could have an impact on what the student society does back at Sheffield. I soon found out how keen the people in that room were, to start from early school years to emphasize maths and vocational careers even for girls.  

Hosted by MP Angela Smith, she introduced what Women in Manufacturing entailed and also introduced the Patron of this new no-profit organization, Nadia Swarovski (from THE Swarovski family, glass manufacturers!).

Following this, Professor Rodriguez-Falcon took to the podium and presented her short speech. Her talk was inspirational and exciting, getting straight to the point that the stakeholders involved in the event had a responsibility to educate girls to other possible career paths within engineering and manufacturing and that more effort needed to be made to ensure this. She emphasized how initiatives like Women in Manufacturing were essential for equality in manufacturing and industry jobs. Lord Nash, Education Minister, concluded the speeches by confirming what the current government is doing to increase the importance of maths and vocational subjects at school.

The evening concluded with more networking and a rush to get our train back to Sheffield. Overall, I found the experience a great opportunity to spread the word about Women in Engineering in Sheffield and to emphasize the importance of being aware of how biased parents and teachers can be when directing pupils towards engineering based careers. It is time to do something about it.

For additional information about the Women in Manufacturing no-profit organization, please visit: http://www.womeninmanufacturing.co.uk

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