To mark International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), TransPennine Express (TPE) is showcasing some of its women engineers who are helping to shape the future of rail.
The annual awareness campaign, from the Women’s Engineering Society, is a day dedicated to recognising and celebrating the amazing work that women engineers do around the world.
Rachael Stretton, Head of Fleet Delivery at TPE, said:
“We’re proud to have so many talented women engineers working with us, following their passions and keeping our trains safe and reliable.
“Women have been breaking barriers in engineering for decades and we’re proud to be a part of that legacy.”
TPE boasts an impressive 19.5 per cent representation of women within its engineering and fleet team and 35 per cent representation of women within its major projects team.
“It’s not just about the work that they do – it’s about the impact they have on our culture. They’re showing that engineering isn’t just a “man’s job” – it’s a career anyone can pursue if they’re passionate about it.”
To show their fellow women that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers are open to everyone, five of TPE’s engineers have opened up about their roles within rail engineering field.
Q&A with some of TPE’s women engineers
When did you first know you wanted a career within the engineering field?
Leeanne Matuszczyk, Fleet Maintenance Planner from Cardiff, said:
“I always wanted to be an engineer. My grandfather and father always encouraged me to pursue a career within engineering, I was bought my first electronics set at three years old. I’ve been in the rail industry for 10 years and before that I was in the RAF for 10 years as an Air and Warfare Avionics Technician.”
Caitlin Gent, Fleet Commercial Engineer from Chorley said:
“I was in the Sea Cadets from around the age of 14, and marine engineering was a specialist subject that I decided I wanted to learn as part of my development. From here I got a taste and an appreciation for the subject, and I knew I wanted a successful career in engineering.”
What made you want to work as an engineer specifically within the rail industry?
Alice Callaghan, Fleet Support Engineer from Liverpool, said:
“I always preferred STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects in school and I was encouraged by a teacher to consider engineering as a career as I wanted to do something practical. I studied Mechanical Engineering at University and learnt about careers within the rail industry at a job fair. Since joining rail I haven’t looked back.”
Louise Woolliscroft, Fleet Engineer from Manchester, said:
“At school, maths and science were always the subjects I most enjoyed and was best at. My dad got me into cars and motorsports from a young age, so I joined the two passions together and made engineering a career goal at around 15 years old. Once I left university, I was less interested in cars and wanted to work within an industry that helps people, the environment and society… so here I am in rail.”
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
Nadia Stott, Fleet Delivery Manager from Bolton, said
“The variety and flexibility, no two days are ever the same. I can be attending contract review meetings, actioning payment approvals, collaborating with other TPE departments one day and then down at the depot, walking through a train, discussing customer facing improvement opportunities the next.”
“I get to work in a field that I am passionate about; I genuinely enjoy every day at work. I was told that if you find a job you enjoy you never truly work a day in your life, and this sums up my job.”
Have you ever felt like you had to tackle gender biases or stereotypes?
“My experience whilst working in the industry has been widely positive. There is a large gap in the workforce, but I do see a difference between when I first started and now. I think the key thing is that first and foremost, regardless of gender, race, age and sexuality, we’re engineers and have a job to do in a safe and competent manner.”
“My gender has impacted others in my line of work; however, I have never let other people’s opinions and judgements affect me. Nevertheless, I have seen a difference in attitudes over the past 10 years in the railway. I believe there are very few people or places with gender bias left.”
“I am very fortunate that I’ve never felt as though I’ve had to fight stereotypes or gender biases. I have a team who is supportive and inclusive of everybody within it, they are a real credit to TPE and the industry.”
Is the rail industry an inclusive place to work?
“It certainly feels like there has been an improvement over the past few years. There are more women in senior roles than when I first started nearly 17 years ago. And the TPE Fleet Team has grown to eight women compared to 2016 when there were only two.”
“As I’ve always worked within the rail industry, I don’t have experience in another industry to compare it to, but I can say that women are very well represented within the Fleet team and I’ve had women bosses whilst working at TPE, which is a lot more than the zero I’ve had in the rest of my career.”
What advice would you give to any young women would like to pursue a career in the rail industry?
“It may look like your face might not fit in certain situations, but it is possible to make a seat for yourself at the table and be that missing representation. It can sometimes be a positive to stand out from the crowd.”
“Be unapologetically yourself, be fearless and be brave. There’s no better role model than yourself.”
“Take every opportunity that you can and ask every question that you have. It really is the case of you get as much, if not more, out of to what you put in and you never know how it will positively affect your career in the future.
“There are also a lot of different groups to join to get support and network, such as your engineering institutions and for the railway generally, organisations such as Young Rail Professionals and Women in Rail.”