in Defence

Female engineers talk about their careers for International Women in Engineering Day

Posted 27 June 2019 · Add Comment

Women in Cornwall working on the frontline of engineering with the Royal Navy have spoken of how attitudes towards female engineers have shifted in recent years.

Sunday 23rd June was International Women in Engineering Day – and female engineers at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, near Helston, have taken the opportunity to speak of their careers and experiences.

Although women are still outnumbered by men, they play an increasingly larger role in all aspects of the navy, in this case to maintain and repair the world’s most advanced submarine-hunters - the Fleet Air Arm’s Merlin helicopters.


Courtesy Royal Navy

Lieutenant Helen Dobbs (above), 30, is an air engineer training officer at RNAS Culdrose. She oversees the courses where hundreds of trainees learn how to fix naval aircraft, mostly its helicopters.

She said attitudes to engineering have changed just in the last 10 years and while there are still more men in the service than women, that is shifting.

“We see a lot of women coming through now because engineering is a career which is open to everyone,” she said. “It’s all just about competency now. Whether you are a man or a woman is not the issue – it really depends if you can do the job.

“Personally, I’ve never had any barriers to me as a woman coming through into engineering. If anything, the ratio of men to women was highest from A’-level and my university course. It was probably about 10 to one. Now, we find the ratio of new air engineering trainees is about one in five.”

Petty Officer Charlene Turner, 31, has been in the navy for 11 years, in a career which has seen her serve on ships around the world and twice in Afghanistan.

She had a hands-on engineering role maintaining and fixing first Sea King and now Merlin helicopters. She is based at RNAS Culdrose and helps run the Air Engineering Department.

“There were a few women on my engineering course when I first started but now we’re finding loads of women coming through,” she said. “I think there’s been a real change and it’s great to see.

“I think I’ve had no more difficulties than any other air engineering technician – male or female. I can honestly say I haven’t seen or had any discrimination from being a woman.”

Leading Hand Catherine Jennings, 28, is an air engineering technician now training to join 814 Naval Air Squadron, whose Merlin helicopters serve on the back of frigates.

Earlier this year, Catherine, an avionics specialist, was named the ‘apprenticeship champion’ of the past 12 months.

She said: “Personally, I don’t think that there have been many barriers in the navy because I am female. I feel like I have to prove myself just as much as my male counterparts, in what is a predominately male environment.

“I would say engineering is a great opportunity and there is so much to learn and experiences to have. For anyone thinking about going into engineering in the navy, it is a great career and you get paid while completing an apprenticeship with civilian qualifications that can be used externally.”




 

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

PM to announce largest military investment in 30 years

The biggest programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War will be announced today by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Security & Policing 2021 registration opens for online event

Visitor and exhibitor registration is now open for the official UK Government global security event Security & Policing 2021, set to take place as an online event between 9th-11th March 2021, offering the opportunity to meet,

UK scientists step closer to revealing origins of our Galaxy

Astronomers have today taken a meteoric leap closer to discovering how our solar system began, unveiling the most detailed atlas of the Milky Way in history.

Team Tempest Strengthens Relationship across UK Industry

More than 70 key industry and Government representatives from across Northern Ireland have engaged with Team Tempest and the Royal Air Force on opportunities to help develop the UK’s next generation of combat air technologies.

Tech accelerator announces industry partnership with Steatite

Worcestershire’s commercial technology accelerator based at Malvern Hills Science Park, BetaDen, is offering a package worth around £50,000 to develop and commercialise new technology, including for aerospace, defence and

NP Aerospace launches new 4030 ELITE Bomb Disposal Suit

Global armour manufacturer, NP Aerospace, has extended its Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) portfolio with the launch of a next generation Bomb Disposal Suit targeting North America and other strategic global markets.

ODU 0201311219
See us at
Security & Policing 2021 BTRAF Museum BT3CDSE BT0210030221