Girls Making the Future at UTC Sheffield

4 July 2014

Girls Making the Future at UTC Sheffield

Women with successful careers in engineering and technology from academia and industry recently gathered at UTC Sheffield to showcase the great opportunities available for girls in these sectors. Girls already studying at the UTC and those who will be joining in September had a chance to ask questions on a one-to-one basis and find out more about the careers that interest them. The event was hosted by the UTC and set up in collaboration with the national WiSET team, Women in Science Engineering and Technology, from Sheffield Hallam University.

The action-packed programme included presentations by Terri Seel, Site Engineer at Morgan Sindall (Construction & Infrastructure), and Christina King, Business Development Manager for the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University. Other participants included:

  • Helen Harrop, Digital Communications Manager, Sero Consulting
  • Robbie May, Senior Business Analyst (Freelance)
  • Gill Osguthorpe, Project Manager, Knowledge Integration
  • Sajhda Parveen, Product Engineer, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Jill Simnett, IT Operations Business Risk & Control Strategy & Planning Manager, HSBC
  • Karen Vernon Parry, Materials & Engineering Research Institute, Sheffield Hallam University
photo of speaker, Terri Seel

Terri Seel, Site Engineer at Morgan Sindall

Terri Seel described her job as a Section Engineer building roads and bridges as part of large scale transport developments. Contrary to myths about the engineering sector, Terri said, “If you’re female and you’re good at your job, you can really excel.”

After the initial presentations there was a ‘speed networking’ session where girls had a chance to move between tables and ask questions of different career women. After a break for refreshments and activities that included novel engineering tasks, ‘chocolate welding’ and ‘tower construction’ using spaghetti and marshmallows, the evening concluded with a Question Time panel.

Filming throughout the event will contribute to a video currently in production on ‘Girls Making the Future’ to support recruitment of girls into engineering and other high-tech subject areas.

UTC Sheffield specialises in Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing and Creative and Digital Industries. Both sectors suffer from a lack of female recruits and University Technical Colleges are seen as a key part of the solution. Only 9% of engineers in the UK are female, compared to 26% in Sweden, 20% in Italy and 18% in Spain. However, a national survey by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust (May 2014) found that girls attending UTCs are more confident of getting jobs in engineering compared to their counterparts at mainstream schools.

UTC Sheffield students sharing their work with Meg Munn MP

MP Meg Munn, who campaigns for women in STEM careers, on a recent visit to Sheffield UTC

Amy Hirst (pictured below), 24, teaches Engineering at UTC Sheffield having graduated in Product Design from Sheffield Hallam University. Amy is on a mission to change attitudes and is confident that the UTC has a role to play: “Engineering involves designing and making things. It’s very rewarding to see a product evolve from design to production. It’s really important that we tell girls and boys what engineering really involves, and explain the fantastic career opportunities out there, to dispel myths.”  You can read more from Amy Hirst in our recent news article.

UTC Sheffield engineering teacher Amy Hirst

UTC Sheffield engineering teacher Amy Hirst

Amy’s confidence is already being rewarded with a marked rise in the number of applications from girls for places at both Year 10 and Year 12 in 2014/15 across both subject specialisms. The UTC is working with the WiSET Team to continue the ‘Girls Making the Future’ theme with future networking events and resources to support recruitment.

If you are interested in a place at the UTC, please visit our applications page.