Skip to main content

The female of the engineering species

Written by: Lorraine Mullaney, Sub Editor at
Published on: 5 Feb 2014

In a bid to encourage more female students to study engineering and 

Silverdale Studentsbecome inspired to choose careers in the food industry, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) will be taking school girls on a series of food factory visits this year.

FDF careers campaign manager Hanne Christensen said: Working alongside organisations such as Women in Science, Engineering and technology (WISET) has helped us to keep the needs of girls in mind throughout our outreach work with schools and young people.

“WISET identified the need for us to challenge negative perceptions about women in engineering whenever we were engaging with girls. For example, having young female engineers from industry join us at events, on factory days and as featured case studies shows girls that there are women working as engineers and that they are just like them.”

Meeting female engineers in the industry will inspire young girls

The FDF believes meeting female engineers in the industry will inspire young girls.

Christensen said: “Using female role models has been an incredibly powerful way of getting girls to consider becoming engineers. We’ve had young female role models attend all of our girls’ factory visits and you can actually see the girls begin to take notice when someone they feel they can relate to steps up to speak.”

Girls often perceived engineering as a male-dominated profession without creativity, but Christensen insisted this was not the case.

She said: “Though engineering requires strong maths and science skills, it also needs people with a creative mind-set who are able to troubleshoot and come up with new solutions and ideas. Leadership and excellent team-working skills are also absolutely key.”

High tech robots in action at Mondelēz

On a factory visit to Mondelēz’s confectionery factory, girls from Silverdale School, Sheffield, saw high tech robots in action producing brands such as Maynards, Bassetts, Trebor and Oreo biscuits.

The students were set an engineering challenge to give them a real insight into the industry and show them how their skills could be applied in a food and drink manufacturing factory setting.    

Martin North, business development & engineering manager at Mondelēz International (Sheffield site) said: “We were delighted to give the students a behind-the-scenes look at our new Oreo production line, as well as setting the group a Bassett’s Liquorice allsorts production challenge to solve.

Our female engineers also gave insights into the food and drink industry and the opportunities out there for young people who want to pursue a career in food engineering.”

Silverdale student Liz Hughes said: This experience gave me a greater understanding of food engineering and showed me how diverse engineering is. It has encouraged me to consider engineering more deeply and was a thoroughly enjoyable visit!”