An apprentice engineer working in the Harrogate district is urging more women to consider career opportunities in the sector.
Freya Osment joined Northern Gas Networks last year as an electrical and instrumentation apprentice.
To mark International Women in Engineering Day today, she has been discussing her role and why she’d recommend a career in engineering to anyone considering it – even if they are the only girl in a class full of boys.
“I always wanted to do something involving engineering. My dad was a mine engineer, and then moved into precision engineering and lathe work.
“Growing up I was kind of a tomboy, and I liked helping him out, helping fix things.
“At secondary school, I did the usual subjects but after I left, I went to college to study general engineering which I did for three years. That involved CAD, lathe work, welding.
“In my class of 30 students, I was the only girl. But I was in Army Cadets between 13 and 18, and always enjoyed doing logical things so it just felt like the right fit for me.”
Northern Gas Networks said it is keen for more women to explore careers in the energy sector, adding to its existing workforce.
As well as apprentices, it has women working at senior levels and in green energy, such as hydrogen development manager Stella Matthews, whose role involves developing zero-carbon gas for heating domestic homes.
“My advice to girls wanting to get involved in engineering is ‘go for it’ and say yes to every opportunity. It’s such an exciting time to be involved in our industry, shaping the future of energy.
“We definitely don’t shout enough about our achievements. Role models are really needed, so girls interested in a career in engineering, or in industry, can see them and aspire to get there too. The more visible we are, the better.”
Across the UK, 16.5% of engineers are women. This is the ninth year the country has marked International Women in Engineering Day, this time focusing on a theme of inventors and innovators.
NGN has a diversity and inclusion strategy to offer more opportunities to female engineers. It uses a gender decoder for its job adverts, ensuring their language suits anyone who might consider applying.
For women already employed by NGN, a women’s network community has been created to ensure women’s voices are heard across the organisation.
For Freya, there are more benefits to a career in engineering than enjoying her job. She spends her working hours travelling around Yorkshire to different ‘off-take’ sites and has days at college working towards two qualifications.
“My advice to any girl considering engineering would be to go for it, don’t worry about what people think and be yourself.
“If you like being out and about, days that are very different from each other and logical ways of working then it’s a great job to be doing.”