Society Showcase: Warwick Women in Engineering Society
June the 23rd is International Women in Engineering Day. Did you know what Women make up only 14.5% of all engineers? In a male-dominated field, it is essential that we encourage women. However, WES.Org found that there has been a 25.7% increase in women in engineering occupations!
The Women’s Engineering Society is a charitable company, founded in 1919 to support women in engineering. They founded International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), held on 23 June annually as an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available in this exciting industry. We spoke to Warwick University society, Women in Engineering, about their society and what they get up to.
Hype: Hi Warwick WES! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself, your role and the society?
Warwick WES: Hi Hype! I am Tjasa, a second-year mechanical engineering student at the University of Warwick and the president of WWES. My role is to oversee the society by deciding what events we’re putting on throughout the year and how in collaboration with all our wonderful execs. In short, I ensure that our society runs smoothly and that our members’ expectations are met and exceeded. As the name indicates, WWES is a society for women in STEM, with an emphasis on engineering. Our purpose on campus is to provide a place for the community of women in STEM to thrive in their degrees and in their professional life. Our relatively small size of about 150 members means that everyone gets to know each other well and makes long-lasting friendships. We hope to provide a welcoming space to make students’ university experience a bit easier and a lot more fun!
Hype: Why is it so important to have an engineering society, specifically for women?
Warwick WES: The numbers speak for themselves; while 30% of engineering undergraduates are women, only 14.5% are engineers in the UK. We’ve made it part of our mission to retain more women in the field because representation matters when it comes to designing the technologies that are used equally by men and women. We support our members in their careers by showcasing inspiring women in the tech end engineering industries who share their experiences in various companies and the path that led them to their current roles. Another important reason for having an engineering society for women is to ensure that the women’s voice is heard on campus and they don’t feel left out at any point in their studies. We hope that by creating a strong and welcoming community of women in engineering, more students will feel a sense of belonging and pursue fulfilling careers in the field.
Hype: What are some of the challenges faced by engineers that are unique to the female experience?
Warwick WES: Though outright sexism has become rare in recent years, women in engineering often experience casual sexism. This can be in snarky comments from peers or family members, textbook examples that assume a gender, or equipment not being available or built for women… to name a few examples. Though these negative experiences can be brushed off easily by some, they may stick to others and go so far as to make them feel like they don’t belong or even dissuaded from pursuing the career they were drawn to.
Hype: At Warwick WES, what kind of events do you put on?
Warwick WES: We put on a mix of academic, social, and wellbeing events for our members on a weekly basis.
These include sober socials such as picnics and bowling and drinking socials. We also have a weekly well-being event where we play games and eat pizza. And last but not least, we host career events, where we bring in speakers from the industry to participate in workshops or co-organised conferences. We are also planning to offer more personalised help with CV writing and general career/ university guidance.
Hype: And have you got any exciting plans for the society coming up?
Warwick WES: We have been discussing creating our very own panel of female engineers to share their perspectives from the “inside”. This would be an exciting opportunity to guide and inform the next generation of engineers. Additionally, we are hoping to collaborate with other campus societies to keep bringing in more STEM students outside of engineering.
Hype: Can you tell us some more about your well-being Wednesdays? They sound great!
Warwick WES: Wellbeing Wednesday is of our longest-running and most popular events. The concept is simple: we provide the food and activities, and students can simply show up and relax in the middle of a busy week. During exam season, being able to play Jenga and eat delicious pizza is the perfect way to fuel up for what’s to come. We’ve even brought in guide dogs for those in need of extra cuddles when university gets overwhelming.
Hype: Who is one female in engineering and science that you find most inspiring?
Warwick WES: I find the work of Kimberly Bryant truly remarkable. In a time when computer programming is an essential skill in any tech job, she has made it accessible to those who were often left out: young black girls. She has had a great impact on the next generation of engineers by creating ‘Black Girls Code’, a programme designed to teach young girls from minority backgrounds to code. With this training course, she addressed head on the lack of diversity in the tech industry and keeps inspiring small student-led societies to make the best use of our resources.
Hype: Lastly, can you tell us what your favourite thing about the society is?
Warwick WES: I can easily say that my favourite thing is the amazing people I have met through WWES. This society has given me so many opportunities to grow, and I can only hope that many more students will get to experience the same!
To find out more about Warwick WES, you can find their Instagram here.