Engineering is a genderless subject
Female Engineer Role Model of the month goes to Dr Arpinder Bansi. Growing up, Arpinder always had a keen interest in maths, science and engineering. She then went on to pursue her exciting career in civil engineering for over 20 years before establishing Kaur Value Associates - a leadership development organisation that works with organisations to enhance performance and deliver cutting edge leadership development programs, to enable people to excel beyond the traditional leadership skills. As a strong advocate for encouraging young women in engineering, Arpinder offers some inspirational advice to young women wanting to pursue a career in engineering. Read on to find out more:
Growing up, did you have any role models? My father came to the UK and put himself through night school whilst working in a factory during the day to make something of himself and encouraged me to do the same.
What motivated you to go into Engineering? I loved maths and science, and engineering appeared to be a practical degree. My school career advisors were not brilliant and said any other degree i.e. pure maths or physics would open opportunities into teaching. I now know there are other careers, but at the time engineering had a clear career path for me to work my way up through an organisation.
What did you like most about your career in Engineering? I love the problem solving and trouble shooting, finding solutions to situations that go beyond textbooks. Creating innovative solutions that make the world a better place.
What advice would you give to girls who want to go into Engineering? Engineering is a genderless subject. However, because historically girls have been deterred from studying mathematical and science subjects (read about the history of when and how women were first allowed to go to university) engineering has remained male dominated. Women are half the population, half the potential talent pool! And we are short on talent and suffering a skill crisis right now. There are numerous examples where women have excelled in engineering and science, but they need to be searched as they tend to get written out of history. My advice would be to pursue a career in engineering, showcase it is a genderless career, celebrate your successes and encourage other girls to follow in your footsteps. We need more role models to encourage girls to consider a profession in engineering and demonstrate how rewarding it is as a career, no two projects are the same. If girls do not step up and come into engineering and challenge the stereotype thinking, then future generations will continue to think engineering is for men only, and as a result our sector will suffer even more from a lack of skills.
What inspired you to start Kaur Values Associates Ltd? I got involved in initiatives to diversify the STEM talent pipeline with a particular remit to look at why women leave the STEM sector and/or do not progress up to senior positions. I found the reasons were partly due to organisational cultures not noticing how they created barriers for women and partly women losing confidence and self esteem when they kept failing to get senior directorships. As a result, Kaur Values was initially set up to support women and ethnic minorities in getting senior promotions but soon diversified to help organisations recognise their development areas and the changes needed to facilitate a more inclusive environment led by a different type of leadership thinking. This also meant addressing the organisational health and not just performance, by developing managers to be better leaders.
If you are interested in a career in science, technology, engineering and maths, we run a range of activities for ages 9 to 21, to help you understand more about the careers and opportunities available. Click here to find out more.