Ford engineers hosted over 100 female students from local Essex schools at the Dunton Technical Centre to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day.
The international car-maker is working to reduce the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math careers by inviting female students to take part in a day of STEM activities and tours of the Dunton Technical Centre.
Stephen Metcalfe MP, the government envoy for the Year of Engineering and Rachel Hayden, 2017 Ford STEM prize winner, joined a number Ford female engineers on 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, Ford of Europe, recognised by Autocar as one of the Top100 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 UK government’s Year of Engineering – a national campaign to increase awareness and understanding of engineering roles among young people, parents and teachers. INWED 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 participated 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.