To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June we have gathered these short biographies of some of our amazing female members. Scroll down to read inspiring stories from 25 of the most influential engineers of today.
Pamela Liversidge OBE DL FREng Hon FIMechE FCGI Director, Quest Investments Ltd Guardian and Trustee, Sheffield Assay Office I studied mechanical engineering at Aston University in the late 1960s, needless to say I was the only girl on the course. My career as an engineer started with GKN Sankey. Over the next 5 decades I worked in small and large organisations, primarily in heavy manufacturing, which included creating a precision forge for compressor blades and my own metal powder manufacturing business. Over the last 15 years I have held a variety of non-executive roles in organisations ranging from an NHS hospital to a quoted bioscience business, several of which I still hold. I had the privilege in 1997 of being the first woman to be elected as the President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the first woman to be elected as Master of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.
Audrey Canning CEng FIET FRSA MSaRS Throughout my career, spanning 40+ years in industry, I have worked at the forefront of computer applications, from testing and assurance of safety critical systems to Artificial Intelligence. I founded the 1st independently accredited test house for safety critical software, led engineering safety assurance teams on the Piccadilly and Northern Lines and currently chair the International standards committee IEC61508 (the worldwide ‘gold standard’ for functional safety) on software aspects. I also represent all functional safety matters on the Safety Advisory Committee to the International Electrotechnical Commission governance board. I live with my husband of 40 years and have two children, a son (also an engineer) and a daughter (an astrophysicist). I am Middle Warden of the Worshipful Company of Engineers.
Dr EUR ING Janet Wilson CEng FIMechE MIoD Nuclear Engineer In one word I’m a nuke! I’m a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with a PhD in nuclear reactor safety. I’ve worked in the nuclear sector (public and private both civil and defence) at senior and executive level with an expert interest in areas of organisational development, nuclear safety, security, environment, non-proliferation and policing (armed response) not only in the UK but abroad. I’ve been both a member of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and the Government Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and currently sit on the Board of the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Tokamak Energy Regulatory & Safety Board.
Janet Etchells CEng FIChemE Retired I first became interested in engineering at a schools’ event in the 60s and graduated in chemical engineering from Birmingham University in 1975. After some years working on chemical process design, development and commissioning, I became an HSE process safety specialist inspector in the early 80s. I led the technical elements of several major incident investigations, research and guidance projects and co-authored HSE’s Workbook on Chemical Reactor Relief System Design. I represented the UK on several national and international technical committees and co-Chaired the European Design Institute for Emergency Relief Systems. After leading HSE’s Wales and West of England Process Safety team and a spell heading the national Process Safety Unit, I retired in 2017. I now enjoy walking, art, table-tennis, socialising and am a volunteer speaker for WaterAid, which employs both my engineering and public speaking skills.
EUR ING Penny Taylor CEng FIMechE FWES JP Senior Consultant, Ardenoak Consulting Ltd I help people be their best. My passion is watching people develop and grow. Having started my career in mechanical engineering in the car industry, it occurred to me that everything happens through the people involved and employed. So to have the best companies, we need the best people. I now spend my time working with companies to develop their engineers in both technical skills and management. My engineering training helps me identify the input necessary to get the required output. Hence what development activity will get someone to perform at their best and increase job and life satisfaction.
Professor EUR ING Margaret Ross MBE CEng CSci CITP FBC, FIST HonFBCS Emeritus Professor of Software Quality, Solent University My mathematics degrees led me to computing, with particular interest in e-learning, greenIT and encouraging girls into STEM subjects. I am still currently active in the BCS as Branch Chair and SG Vice Chairs, previously a BCS Trustee, a Senator on the Engineering Council, then on the ETB College A and Registrants Panel. My greatest achievements, in addition to being a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, were being awarded my MBE for services to education, an Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University for encouraging students, particularly girls, into STEM subjects, the BCS John Ivinson Medal, an Honorary Fellowship of the BCS, being listed by Computer Weekly as one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Women in UK IT in 2016”, and my photo being included with 8 other women on the front cover of ITNow, including Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr, Grace Hopper and Dame Steve Shirley.
Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge I have always been interested in how things work and how they might be improved. After a degree in Maths, I went on to study aircraft noise and obtained a PhD in Engineering. Since then my research has been on generating energy efficiently with low levels of pollution, and on low noise vehicles, especially aircraft and cars. I led the Silent Aircraft Initiative, a research collaboration between Cambridge and MIT, and have held visiting posts at MIT and at Caltech. I was appointed Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1993, the first women professor in Engineering at Cambridge University. I was Head of the Cambridge Department of Engineering 2009-2014 and was President of the Royal Academy of Engineering 2014-19. I am currently on the Board of two major UK companies as a non-executive director. In 2015 I was delighted and honoured to be appointed by the Queen to be one of the 24 members of the Order of Merit.
Isobel Pollock-Hulf OBE CEng Hon DSc Hon FIET FIMechE FCGI Past Master, Worshipful Company of Engineers 2016 – 2017; Past President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers 2012 – 2013 I am a mechanical engineer with extensive manufacturing experience. My interest in measurement led me to chair the UK National Measurement Office (NMO) based at Teddington beside the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). I am currently a member of the British Hallmarking Council, appointed by BEIS. My portrait, painted by Tess Barnes, features the Institution of Mechanical Engineers headquarters at 1 Birdcage Walk, London – a place where I have spent many hours dedicated to supporting our profession. My brooch features the IMechE Crest and was commissioned for my Presidential year in starting in 2012. I enjoy promoting engineering to the public and I led the revival of the IMechE Heritage Award Scheme. There are 3 other items featured in my portrait which illustrate my interest in measurement. Firstly a book on the History of measurement, secondly the UK measurement strategy and finally Big Ben, a very famous timekeeper. I am a Patron of the Women’s Engineering Society and I am passionate about promoting engineering as an inclusive and diverse profession.
Suzanne Flynn CEng FIET FIES FWES Active retirement My career in Electrical Engineering spans over 50 years. After graduation I joined the RAF as an engineering officer and then followed a career in Electronic Warfare, computer-based Process Control in the nuclear and conventional power industries and finishing with the safety assessment of embedded software devices. I started my own consultancy in 1996 with two colleagues specialising in remote working, not very common. I am very active in my profession and have held several roles in the IET. I am an assessor for the various registered grades of engineer and technician. I am a Hammerman of Glasgow and a Past President of WES. Now in retirement, I am a digital champion and Trustee for AgeUK South Lakeland helping people from 50 to 96 enter the digital age. I am married and have two daughters, one of whom is also an RAF engineer.
EUR ING Carol Long CEng FBCS CITP FRSA MCMI MIC MWES Independent consultant, and Visiting Fellow, WMG, University of Warwick I am a software and systems engineer by training. As a programme manager for commercial software houses, I’ve run multi-million dollar projects across five continents with 14 nationalities working together. With 20 years’ experience of business system implementation and governance improvement, I work as an independent consultant with boards on business transformations and improving project management success. My continuing commitment to professional education includes coaching young engineers and being part of the authoring teams for APM’s Directing Change and Models to Improve Project Management, PMI standard for configuration management, and IEEE standards on software project lifecycles and ethical systems design. I am a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, a Fellow of the RSA, a Chartered Fellow of BCS The Chartered Institute for IT, and a Chartered Engineer.
EUR ING Louise Hardy CEng FICE CMgr CCMI FWES HonFAPM Non Executive Director; Polypipe Group Plc, Severfield Plc, Crest Nicholson Plc, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation I am a chartered civil engineer who specialised in delivering complex nationally significant infrastructure projects and was named in the FT’s Top 100 Women of Influence in Engineering list, 2019. My most notable role in my career was as Infrastructure Director for the London2012 Olympic Park, leading the successful completion of £2billion of civil engineering infrastructure that regenerated east London and facilitated an amazing Olympic Games. I now undertake voluntary work as a STEM ambassador and diversity champion alongside a portfolio of non-executive director positions on FTSE and public sector boards within the house building, manufacturing, mining and infrastructure industries.
Dr Jane Atkinson FREng CEng FIChemE Executive Director, Engineering and Automation Bilfinger UK Ltd I am a Chemical Engineer, who has always worked in operational and trouble shooting roles. For the first 20 years of my career I ran Operations for British Steel in both the UK and USA and then in the power sector for Sembcorp, including commissioning and operating the UK’s first commercial Biomass Power Plant. After 19 years in Plant operations, I moved into contracting for Cape PLC, latterly Altrad. I held several positions; including Statutory Director for Motherwell Bridge and York Linings and then in 2018, I became Transformation Director for Altrad creating the UK’s largest industrial service provider, with an estimated turnover of £600m. Today, I am Executive Director Engineering and Automation for Bilfinger as well as being recognised as the UK’s No. 1 Most Influential Woman in Engineering 2019 by the Financial Times and Inclusive Boards.
Chaido (Yuli) Doulala-Rigby CEng FICE FInstRE MIMMM MIHKIE I am a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Liveryman and Court Assistant of the Worshipful Company of Engineers and the first non-military Fellow of the Institution of Royal Engineers. I have been working in the Construction Industry for the last 26 years both in the UK and overseas. For the last 14 years I have been the Chief Civil Engineer of Tensar, the British company that invented polymer geogrids in 1978 that are used globally to reinforce and stabilise unbound soils. My career highlight, so far, is leading the team that designed and supplied some of the tallest reinforced soil highway embankments in the world in the UAE in 2011, with a cumulative tiered height up to 60m. I am a passionate STEM Ambassador and I am an avid supporter of any initiative to attract more young people into Engineering and especially females!
Dame Judith Hackitt DBE FREng FIChemE (H)FIET Chair of Make UK and of Enginuity, Senior non-Exec Director at High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Board member of HS2. Trustee at Royal Academy of Engineering I am a chemical engineer and graduated from Imperial College in the mid 1970s. The golden thread running through my career has been safety. Shocked by what happened at Flixborough in 1974 my 20 years in chemicals manufacturing was all about running high hazard processes safely. Safety was the predominant theme of my Presidency of IChemE from 2013-14 and as Chair of HSE I was proud to advocate the importance of everyone having the right to go home every day unharmed by their work. My passion now is about getting that golden thread of safety built into high rise buildings to prevent another tragedy like Grenfell Tower.
EUR ING Jean Billingsley CEng FIMechE CEnv CMgr FCMI Director, Dux Consulting Ltd In my corporate career, I was responsible for the engineering of the Rolls-Royce Industrial Trent Genset, and the R&D project management of the Alstom Power GRT steam turbine. In 2012, I founded Dux Consulting and now provide international training and consulting services to engineering companies. I am the author of the book ‘So What – Effective Writing for Engineers’ published in 2017. I have an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Warwick Business School. I am a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers.
Dr EUR ING Gina Barney CEng FIEE HonFCIBSE Principal, Gina Barney Associates I come from a long line of farriers and blacksmiths. My parents suspected I would become a professional engineer after I took all my toys to pieces during a bout of measles (and put them back together again). That took the first 30 years of my life, not the toy bit. The last fifty years or so I have been moving people in buildings. Always seeking perfection, I have found a niche in expert witness work, where I have developed forensic skills to causation. I am Technical Editor of CIBSE Guide D “Transportation in Buildings” now in its sixth edition. At the current time of social (physical) distancing I miss ballroom dancing with my lady partners.
EUR ING Dawn Bonfield MBE CEng FIMMM FICE HonFIStructE FWES HonDEng Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor, Aston University I am a materials engineer originally and spent the first part of my engineering life working on metal and carbon fibre matrix composites for automotive and aerospace applications. I now work on inclusive engineering, ensuring that engineering products and services are accessible to all, and are free of bias and discrimination, and have a particular interest in the gender perspective. I am a UK representative of a global organisation called the World Federation of Engineering Organisations where we look at the impact of technology on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring a gender focus. I was President and CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society, and was founder of the International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) whilst at WES. I am now a Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering at Aston University, I run my own company called Towards Vision, and have an interest in the history of women in engineering through a social enterprise called Magnificent Women.
Dawn Childs CEng FICE FIMechE FRAeS FWES Change Director, National Grid I have enjoyed a multi-sector career across aviation, infrastructure, theme parks and now energy transmission. I am currently the Change Director for National Grid with responsibility for driving transformation across the UK business for gas and electricity. Throughout my career I have been involved in engineering management and policy only moving into transformation over the last decade. It is so exciting to be able to move between sectors and apply good management principles and technical understanding to a whole new and different set of challenges – from aircraft to rollercoasters and now high voltage electricity! I am also passionate about technical education and bringing more gender parity into the engineering sector and am currently President of the Women’s Engineering Society and a Trustee for World Skills UK.
Dr Dolores Byrne OBE CEng Hon FIET FInstP Non Executive Director Sellafield Ltd; Trustee Winchester Science Centre; Foothold I am a systems engineer having moved from the world of electro-optic physics to that of defence and aerospace engineering through my early career in the Ministry of Defence, followed by an equally interesting twenty years in the defence and aerospace industry. As Managing Director Innovation at QinetiQ I worked on leading-edge innovative programmes alongside scientists and engineers with many different specialisms to develop new systems such as Zephyr, a solar powered unmanned aircraft which recorded the world’s longest duration flight. I am a passionate ambassador of STEM careers for young people, especially girls, and now volunteer with two charities to promote engineering, support engineers and spark curiosity to encourage the next generation of engineers.
Jacqui Murray CEng CEnv FIMMM MWES Deputy Director Faraday Battery Challenge, Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation A Materials Engineer by training, specialising for 10 years in how to make, roll and galvanise steel so that it has the properties needed for vehicles and buildings. I love big complex problems and for the next 14 years, I regulated sites like steelworks, power stations and oil refineries for the Environment Agency and Welsh Government. In 2017, I became the Deputy Director of the Faraday Battery Challenge, the UK Government’s £274m programme that is creating the research, innovation and commercialisation ecosystem that is establishing the UK as a battery science superpower, growing our own innovative technology and companies and attracting large-scale battery manufacturing to the UK.
Professor Elizabeth Tanner OBE FREng FRSE Bonfield Professor of Biomedical Materials, School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London I have been the Bonfield Professor of Biomedical Materials at QMUL since 2018. I spent the previous 11 years as Professor of Biomedical Materials at the University of Glasgow where I started their Biomedical Engineering degree. The initial intake was 23 students and by the time I left there were about 60 students per year. Back at QMUL (I worked there with Bill Bonfield from 1983 until 2007) I head the Materials Division and Institute of Bioengineering while researching the mechanical properties of bone in disease and degradable materials to replace bone. These will be used for fracture repair and bone tissue engineering.
Siân Davies CEng FIMechE Vice Chair Professional Review Committee IMechE I’m a mechanical Engineer and have spent my career in the automotive industry building cars at Toyota. As a Quality Engineering manager my job was all about solving problems quickly – the factory made a car every minute and when the line stopped you had to move fast! I started my career as a student apprentice with Michelin Tyre Company and studied Mechanical Engineering at Loughborough University, joining Toyota Motor Manufacturing in 1991 when it opened in Derby. I retired 5 years ago and now volunteer. I’m Vice Chair of the Professional Review Committee of the IMechE. I’m a passionate STEM ambassador and also a keen cyclist. Two years ago I fulfilled an ambition to cycle the Shimanamikaido, which is a 63km cycle route across the bridges of the inland sea in Japan. I now regularly take my bicycle into schools to explain levers and gears to the next generation of engineers.
Heather Clarke CEng FIMechE MWES Non-Executive Director, The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC); Vice President of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers A Chartered Fellow and Vice President with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, I have 27+ years within the Rail, Energy and Manufacturing industries in technical and management roles including a stint in Texas. I am most proud of being awarded the Women’s Engineering Society Top 50 Women in Engineering, recognising my journey from Apprentice through to Non-executive Director. I aspire to see engineering and its institutions considered as relevant for today’s engineers, future engineers and those who have not yet considered engineering as an option. I support this through mentoring /coaching others, through my MTC role and as a Cubs Scout leader…engineering by stealth. My favourite saying is ‘Yes I am an engineer’.
Commander Vicky Shirvill CEng FRAeS MCMI Head of Branch for General and Engineering Regulation, Military Aviation Authority, Royal Navy An aeronautics engineer, I have spent my 15 year career to date as an Officer and a Gentle(wo)man in the Royal Navy. Specialising in helicopter and fighter jet engineering my job is simple, delivering military aviation capability to the front line. The Navy has taken me all over the world, from Dubai to Djibouti, the US to the Lebanon and I’ve sailed on most of the seven seas in some of the UKs largest and most advanced warships. Currently working for the Military Aviation Authority with responsibility for the engineering regulation that defines the design and maintenance requirements for all Military aircraft.
Julie Wood CEng FICE FRICS FCIM HonFAPM Director of Arup I am a Civil Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Director of Arup specialising in major capital works projects. Starting my career in engineering as an apprentice I have been fortunate to work on and lead many large projects including; The North Terminal at Gatwick Airport, Lakeside shopping centre, The British Library and two of my most memorable; The McLaren Technology Centre and The Francis Crick Institute. I am currently the Director responsible for the Design of the HS2 Euston Station a truly amazing project.