Industrial Systems and Co-Design Integrator (Manufacturing Engineering), Airbus
STEM sectors need to attract more women, says Lucy Kiernan. That means schools and companies must do more to break the bias that STEM careers are a male preserve.
“Engineering is male-dominated, but that shouldn’t deter women from joining the sector — and it certainly won’t stop them from succeeding in it,” insists Lucy Kiernan, Industrial Systems and Co-Design Integrator (Manufacturing Engineering) at aerospace corporation, Airbus.
Peer support for career progression in STEM
“Sometimes, the biggest barrier to career progression is your own self-doubt,” she says. “Thankfully, in our teams, we get a lot of reassurance, feedback and support from our peers. That’s great because everyone needs to have self-belief and confidence in their abilities.”
After finishing her A Levels, Lucy joined Airbus as a Supply Chain and Logistics Apprentice in 2016. “At school, careers advisers were always pushing the university route,” she says. “Even so, I kept thinking: ‘What would be my next step after graduation?’ I talked to family members who joined Airbus apprenticeship schemes, and they encouraged me to attend an open day event. I went along and found out more about the apprenticeship route. It seemed a natural fit for me.”
Positive impacts of diversity in the workplace
In Logistics, Lucy was the only woman in a team of 100. “But everyone was very welcoming, and it just wasn’t an issue or a barrier,” she says. Nevertheless, she is a champion for bringing more women into aerospace and currently leads the Gender Diversity Group at the Broughton site. This focuses on raising both the profile and awareness of gender diversity topics and the positive impacts they bring to the workplace.
Encouraging more women into STEM careers
Anything is possible in STEM, notes Lucy. For example, she admits she wasn’t a natural at maths and sciences at school, but that hasn’t held her back. “It shouldn’t be a barrier to a STEM career,” she says. “A year ago, I moved into the engineering function. That was daunting at first because I don’t come from a technical background, but since I’ve been in my current role, I’ve gained an appreciation for engineering.”
We must continue to break the bias that STEM careers are not suited to females and their preferences.
Now, we need to find and encourage the next generation of STEM leaders — and schools have a massive part to play in that. “We must continue to break the bias that STEM careers are not suited to females and their preferences,” insists Lucy. “There’s also a responsibility on those of us working in STEM companies to continue to share our stories and open up our doors to highlight the work we do and the opportunities we offer.”