Celebrating women in engineering

Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world on the 8th of March. This year, the Royal Academy of Engineering profiled 40 female fellows to celebrate their achievements. Their stories illustrate the creativity, variety and breadth within engineering and the hope is that these profiles will encourage many more women to choose engineering careers.

Liane Smith, Managing Director of Wood Group Intetech, was one of the leading female engineers to be profiled. She chose engineering in her teens because she enjoyed chemistry and was amazed by the scale of the refineries and chemical plants around her home in Manchester. At university Liane developed a strong interest in crystalline materials and shifted to materials engineering, a specialism she really enjoyed and which offered a variety of career options.

It was Liane’s teacher at school, who had worked in the industry, who told her about engineering. She believes that without her she would have had no idea about the sector, and suspects this may still be an issue today for many girls.

In her career, she’s been the only woman on a platform in the North Sea, on a pipe-laying spread supervising welding work and out in the desert in the UAE investigating well problems. That experience would be uncommon today – women are still a minority but no longer a ‘rare breed’.

Liane’s advice for women thinking of a career in engineering: “You will find it genuinely rewarding and it will truly make a difference to the lives of people around you. You will save lives, improve living standards, positively impact people’s quality of life and leave your mark on society.”