ACR Journal

Anyone who knows me will know I’m passionate about our industry and love all things RACHP, but I am also passionate about constantly improving inclusion and diversity across the board. A lot has changed since I entered the industry 21 years ago, from the revival of natural refrigerants to a shift in our attitudes towards energy consumption. But one element that has seen very little transformation is the number of women in technical roles. Statistics generated by the Women’s Engineering Society [WES Statistics] suggest that the number of women studying engineering and physics has remained static during the last decade. Admittedly, engineering and refrigeration is not a career I had considered when I was at school. Still, it is a vocation I am extremely happy I chose and is one that I thoroughly enjoy. I am not alone in my enjoyment of my profession; other female engineers I have had the pleasure of meeting are as passionate and enthusiastic about their career choices. Engineering stereotypes The UK still has the lowest number of females working in engineering professions in Europe, accounting for only twelve per cent of the workforce [Engineering UK 2020]. The RACHP industry is no different. A paper published by the International Institute of Refrigeration in 2020 [Women In Refrigeration] suggests that females make up as little as four per cent of RACHP engineering roles in the UK. But why do so few women choose careers in engineering? Study after study shows that our culture and the stereotypes we are exposed to contribute significantly to this. Engineering is still viewed as a “Hard Hat” career, a career that is dirty, technical, and too difficult for girls to pursue. These stereotypes are not only generated amongst their peers but also in the home. The 2019 Engineering Brand Monitor survey found that parents of girls were less likely to recommend an engineering career to their children than boys’ parents. These issues are deepened further by a lack of engineering in the curriculum in most mainstream schools. To change these attitudes, we must cast off the age-old image of engineering and break down those gender stereotypes so that other women like me can celebrate their strengths. Making STEM activities accessible to schools and raising the profile of women in engineering is key to achieving this. By creating female role models, we will bring about a culture change. We are proving that there is a place for women within engineering and that we can have successful and fulfilling careers. It is commonly believed that until people see others like themselves doing well, they will find it hard to imagine themselves in that role. The more visible our role models are, the more effective they will be. We need to develop, support, and empower our women to be those positive role models to help attract new talent and retain the talent pool we have, and this is where STEMazing shines. STEMazing STEMazing is the creation of Alexandra Knight, an award-winning engineer, presenter, and diversity advocate. She is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, on the Board of the Women’s Engineering Society, a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at Brunel University, and a STEM Ambassador. Alex worked in the engineering industry for over 15 years before focussing full time on STEMazing. Alex truly felt she could make a bigger impact in the World through empowering women in STEM to be more confident, visible role models and inspire our next generation of innovators and problem- solvers, and she wasn’t wrong. Earlier this year, Alex took the next step with STEMazing and launched the Inspiration Academy. The STEMazing Inspiration Academy supports women Lisa-Jayne Cook, service sales manager at GEA, explains why it’s essential to break industry stereotypes and how promoting STEM can hold the answers. STEMazing Women 40 WOMEN IN ENGINEERING June | July 2021 Volume 7 No.4

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