Why did you choose engineering?
I love the buzz of a 24/7 operation with multiple daily challenges and I love developing my skills in manufacturing and production. I’ve worked in the food industry, print and now insulation. No two days are the same, there are always a wide variety of challenges and lots of things to achieve that require different skills. It feels like constantly spinning plates, being sure to prioritise and keep everything spinning.
What advice would you offer women considering a career in engineering?
Don’t be put off by stereotypes. You can bring so much to the work environment. You will bring a different set of values and priorities. You’ll think and behave differently and this can reveal new possibilities. Being in a male-dominated industry means it is easier to standout as long as you remain confident and true to who you are. If we all think and behave the same as leaders we will never challenge the status quo, so anything that embraces diversity and different ways of thinking, breeds new ideas. It’s easy to play down feminine traits and try to blend in but I say use these differences to your advantage. Be proud of who you are.
What makes Knauf Insulation special?
Knauf Insulation doesn’t just talk about being a family business, it truly embraces values and cares for its employees. It shows this through its values and strategic pillars. Here you are measured on your achievements and not against your colleagues. The company also understands that gender equality isn’t about treating men and women the same, it’s more than that, it’s ensuring everyone reaches their full potential regardless of gender.
What has been a career highlight?
It’s getting to a point where I feel proud, confident and happy with who I am. Where I feel my authentic self and I am not trying to fit into other people’s views of what I should be. Moving into a male-dominated industry I was constantly feeling a need to prove myself and I put myself under a lot of pressure to perform. I often tried to blend in and downplay my femininity and be more masculine. I saw equality as being more like a man. I was very conscious of what others thought of me and tried to please everyone. I never gave myself a break, no matter what was going on outside of work. As I became a mum, I kept everything bottled up as I believed emotions were weakness. However, this meant the emotions often came bubbling out. I’ve been working on this for a while and this year after meeting some inspirational women, moving to Knauf Insulation and receiving personal coaching, I am now really beginning to build confidence in myself by understanding the benefits of being a woman. I embrace and understand my emotions so I can use them as a strength. I now think of being female as an advantage where I have a different way of looking at things and different skills. I’m proud to be a woman and as much as I will always have a desire to achieve — and stretch myself — I have less of a focus on proving myself to others.
What needs to be done to encourage more women to join the construction industry?
Encouraging women into the construction industry needs to begin at school as there are so many gender stereotypes about jobs starting from such a young age. When I realised how much I enjoyed science, specifically physics and biology, no one ever discussed engineering, electronics and mechanics instead I was pushed towards medicine or the science industry. I had never considered production, construction or engineering until I fell into the industry. Construction also needs to make more of an effort to display its diversity when it engages with schools, I’m sure seeing or talking to a female engineer when I found my love for physics would have made me consider it as an option.