International Women in Engineering Day 2021 - Meet Marta, Design Engineer
International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is celebrating its 8th year in 2021. Initiated by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), INWED is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls in the industry. The initiative aims to recognise the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering, who recognise a problem, then dare to be part of the solution. We catch up with some of our female colleagues on their thoughts about INWED.
Marta Canelo Ruiz, Design Engineer
Marta, tell us about what you do at UK Power Networks Services
My role is to deliver electrical infrastructure design solutions for clients in the defence sector. I work closely with clients and their consultants, building partnerships in order to develop a wide range of projects including HV, LV, EV and street lighting.
What made you choose a career in engineering?
I have always had a passion for maths and sciences, which led me to choose technical subjects in high school. This early enjoyment provided the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects individually and it is always fun working as part of a team. I am incredibly competitive and participated in competitions with other high schools which further instilled a sense of wonder and interest in how things work which led naturally into studying Industrial Engineering.
Can you tell us about a challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it?
At home in Spain, my first job in the industry involved a tri-party contract between myself, GE Energy and the local university. Once I gained my degree and left university, GE could only offer a position with limited responsibilities and prospects due to my lack of fluency in the English language. I decided there and then that the best way to follow my dream of a career in Engineering was to learn English and the best way to do that was to move to England. It was a scary time moving to the UK on my own with no support network, taking what work I could get, while I focused on learning a second language. After nine months in the UK, my luck changed and I was given the opportunity to work for UK Power Networks Services where I have great support and encouragement to keep learning and developing new skills and knowledge.
Is there someone you particularly admire and why?
That’s an easy one. My mum, she is the strongest woman I have ever met. Not only physically (I promise you no one can open a jar of food if she has closed it) but also mentally. I have seen her embracing her fears, following her heart and dreams. She has taught me that being comfortable is not good enough. Leaving your comfort zone may be scary and the path may be harder, but being happy is what we should all aim for.
How do you define success and what personal qualities would serve one well in engineering?
To me, being successful is knowing what I want and working the best I can towards it. It is that feeling of knowing that I am on the right track and doing what I am meant to be doing. Some people may get there sooner than me, but this is not a race – every step counts and must be enjoyed.
Based on my experienced, to be a good engineer you need to not be afraid to ask questions (no question is a silly question). You also need to be keen to learn, hardworking and a good listener. There is no engineering project with only one solution. There will always be multiple solutions and listening to other people’s ideas will always improve your own ones. I strongly believe that sharing knowledge grows teams and individuals.
Why do you think there are proportionately less women in engineering?
Historically, women have not had equal opportunities, traditionally there were pressures to stay at home and look after the family. This could be the kids, the husband, her parents or even the husband’s parents. Although society is gradually changing, there is still a culture that believes women are the better carers and men are able to have bigger professional roles that’s why I think more women tend to opt for caring careers such teachers or nurses and men opt for more leading careers such as doctors or engineers.
Do you have any advice for girls thinking of pursuing a career in engineering?
I have represented Spain at roller derby and once I had a coach who used to run training for a men’s team and a women’s team. He mentioned that the biggest difference coaching different genders is that men normally believe they know what they are capable of and tend to go for it even if they may fail, while women tend to underestimate themselves, taking easier routes that would give them less satisfaction instead of taking risks with going big in case they fail. This is obviously a generalisation and will have many exceptions.
My advice to girls interested in a career in engineering would be – You are the only one setting your limits. So aim high, work hard and follow your dreams. I often ask myself if that is what I want to do or if it is just the easiest thing to do. Remember, there are great opportunities for women if we are willing to take a chance, believe in the impossible, show up to every chance we get and most of all celebrate our successes.
Find out more about careers at UK Power Networks Services here.