Two female Network Rail graduates visited Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls in Romford yesterday (Tuesday) ahead of International Women’s day today, to encourage girls to think about a career in rail engineering.
Olivia Mansfield and Lucy Hutchinson, both Network Rail graduates, hosted a workshop at the all-girls school. Students were asked to think about their personalities, skills and interests so that they could be matched to jobs in the railway industry and discuss what qualifications they would need.
The visit comes after Network Rail announced its '20 by 20' target to increase take-up of female employees and tackle engineer shortfall. The organisation has set itself a new target to increase its take-up of female employees across the business to 20 percent by 2020.
To coincide with International Women’s Day (8 March) Network Rail will be working directly with schools as part of a new engagement programme to encourage more young people, women in particular, to consider STEM subjects and inspire them about the different types of careers available across the rail industry.
As one of Britain’s biggest employers, Network Rail recognises it has a role to play in inspiring future generations about careers in the engineering sector. The pipeline of female talent entering the sector is low which WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) say is because 50,000 girls are turning away from an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) every year.
Eliane Algaard is Network Rail’s director of route asset management for Anglia. Her team manages major infrastructure upgrades from renewing track, overhead lines and upgrading level crossings in the region. She is a chartered civil engineer and joined Network Rail in 2008.
Eliane said: “I feel lucky because I wasn’t put off engineering when I was younger and now I am doing a job I always wanted to do. Network Rail offers support for those who want to embark on a rail industry career and provides a wealth of opportunities to work on an array of engineering projects to help us deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan.”
Maisie Halls, a year 8 student at the school, said: "Although I'm not sure what I want to do as a career, engineering appeals to me because it seems very hands on and I learn better when I see things in front of me. I found today really fun and interesting, especially the career quiz."
Lucy Hutchinson, a Network Rail graduate who visited the school, said: “I think there are a lot of misconceptions about engineering and the purpose of this visit was to help girls understand what the role involves. The rail industry carries out innovative and ground-breaking work each day and is an ever expanding industry. The only way we can continue to deliver on our Railway Upgrade Plan is if we have the right balance of people which means more girls from all different backgrounds.”
Faye Deacon, teacher at Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls, said: "As an all girls academy we are desperately trying to break the engineering stereotype. We have a STEAM club (called Girls STEAM Ahead) that I set up which contains approximately 60 members. We have also built a model railway around the school where the girls learnt to arc weld the track, build a working train and carriages and have a workshop especially for engineering projects. We have constructed and built a 'train station' which will act as a STEAM learning environment that sits along the side of our track. Today was a great opportunity for the girls to look at stereotypical 'men's' companies and realise that there is a place for them too."
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