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6th September 2012, 8:35am
Women powering ahead in engineering
Engineering School The Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Lincoln has become one of the youngest Fellows of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Dr Jill Stewart, 36, has joined an ever increasing number of high achieving mid-career engineers to take up a Fellowship.

It is another sign that the gender gap is starting to close with a far greater number of highly talented female engineering and science graduates choosing to work in STEM professions.

Historically, some female graduates from these disciplines have gone on to move into law and financial services rather than continuing with a career in engineering.

Dr Stewart said it was important that universities work with employers in order to inspire people to want to stay in the profession.

“If I think about all of the women that I did my degree with and they are all professional engineers now, having very successful careers of their own,” said Dr Stewart.

“It’s probably a little too early to know what my own graduates are going to get up to but I would hope that they would stay involved as anything else might seem like a waste of what is a huge talent.

“Engineering is one of those degrees which is tough and I tend to find that students have a very clear intention of what they are going to do with the rest of their lives, perhaps unlike subjects without such clear career paths..”

The Institution hopes that seeing a high profile and influential female engineer committing to professional development will be significant in helping to inspire other mid-career female engineers.

Dr Stewart said: “Like any engineering organisation, we always need more female representation, irrespective of the category. I do think female engineers should try and be more visible so that young females realise that this is a career option for them, and a fantastic one at that.”

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was instrumental in helping to set up the University’s School of Engineering.

Dr Stewart said: “Lincoln is a very different kind of university as it is comparatively new compared to others. It’s really important for the University to set a new agenda. We are committed to high levels of employer engagement and high impact research. Engineering was a natural progression for the University, given the depth and breadth of industry in Lincolnshire.

“The feedback we have received has been incredibly positive, being announced as one of only five Siemens partner UK universities. We also won the prestigious Lord Stafford Award in November last year for our collaboration with Siemens. Looking to the future, we want to engage further with the region’s engineering companies, particularly SMEs.”

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