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Jacqueline Stephen | Woman Engineer of the Day
Jacqueline is a Postgraduate in Engineering from Cranfield University. After reading a Matchtech article about the skills gap in engineering, she was inspired to shift to Subsea engineering. Read Jacqueline’s thoughts on the future of women in engineering and her own career aspirations…..
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
An article published by Matchtech and IMarEST inspired me to shift to subsea engineering. The article discussed the present skills gap in the offshore and oil and gas industry, linking this to the under-representation of women in engineering. After careful assessment of the sector, I was keen to explore the predominant technical skills gap in this industry.
What are your future career aspirations?
Project and risk management have been my two key strengths from my background. Therefore, in the long run I aspire to work as a Subsea Project Engineer, as this involves both aspects.
What has been a key achievement of your career or studies to date?
I am a year ahead academically to date; becoming an undergraduate by 17 years of age and postgraduate by 20 years.
Have you faced any challenges in your career or studies so far?
Being a student of engineering, certain tasks during the curriculum were designed to teach the aspect of group work. I often found myself working the most amongst six other group members appointed by the tutor. As the only female, the challenge was to maintain professionalism and assertiveness among some of the more dominant characters within the group environment. As a result, the task was completed with mutual respect maintained and a strong belief in the team; which ended with us accomplishing grade A marks.
How do you think we can inspire young women to pursue a career in engineering?
By creating more platforms where young women can be linked to industry professionals with the intention to mentor. More bursaries should be made available for talented young women who may not have the funds to attend such events and conferences. Also Graduates need greater awareness of career development opportunities as opposed to normal jobs. This will help them acquire the practical skills and knowledge that they need prior to identifying their career path.
Who inspires you?
I have a female mentor who inspires me. She has 20+ years’ experience and has worked her way up to project director. I am inspired by her because of her continuous drive for success and desire to create a legacy.
Do you have any advice for girls and women?
Regardless of the low percentage of female applicants for STEM roles, women should not be discouraged; they should continue to apply to these positions, aiming to gain enough technical skills to lead others. Female undergraduates should be encouraged to work in the industry during holiday periods; this is in order to have an edge, as exposure and familiarisation of the company will be provided. Talking from experience, internships and voluntary opportunities that I have missed during my undergrad has affected me in securing the roles I desire. Therefore, I now have to work even harder to build that relevant experience after graduation.
In my opinion, what you can give to a company has greater impact for growth than purely seeking what you can get. As for girls, engineering is actually fun and the sectors are vast. You must find a particular area or industry that is suited to your individual requirements and not based on your friends’ influences.
How did you hear about Matchtech?
I heard about Matchtech during my independent research for my initial dissertation in 2014.