FORD engineers hosted more than 100 female pupils from Essex schools at its Dunton Technical Centre to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day.
The manufacturer said it was working to reduce the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers by inviting female students to take part in a day of Stem activities and tours of the Laindon centre.
MP Stephen Metcalfe, the government envoy for the Year of Engineering, and Rachel Hayden, 2017 Ford undergraduate Stem prize winner, joined Ford female engineers for a panel discussion and student Q&A on topics ranging from apprentices to senior management roles. The debate followed a keynote speech delivered by Sue Slaughter, director of purchasing for Ford of Europe, who has been recognised by Autocar as one of the top 100 most influential women.
Slaughter said: ‘At Ford, we recognise the challenges of attracting young people – especially girls – to pursue Stem-related careers. However, we find this to be largely based around perception.
‘We run this event to show off the wide range of exciting, future-facing Stem careers so that these female students understand all of the opportunities available and can be inspired by what is most suited to them.’
This year is the government’s Year of Engineering – a national campaign to increase awareness and understanding of engineering roles among young people, parents and teachers – and the engineering day is just one of a number of events run in support of the campaign.
Metcalfe said: ‘With females making up an estimated 12 per cent of the engineering workforce, events such as today are imperative in engaging young students with the vast opportunities available to engineers, which will reduce the gender and skills gaps within the industry in the future.’
The students took part in a range of activities, including an exercise in lean manufacturing techniques and programming using Edison robots. Insight into the breadth and scope of engineering careers was introduced through a site tour, which included the environmental test lab, emissions test lab and a calibration activity on the Dunton test track.
Pictured are Stephen Metcalfe, Rachel Hayden, centre, and Sue Slaughter
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