In the build up to the end of 2020 The Manufacturer and KTN have teamed up to bring you profiles of 30 Inspiring Women in Manufacturing.
A recurring question is how we inspire the next generation of women into engineering or manufacturing. Social scientists frequently point to the toys and games young girls and boys are given to play with having a lasting impact on how they perceive gender roles.
I’ve heard on more than one occasion what age girls stop playing with LEGO. I spent much of my childhood playing with these building blocks and found them to be a great way to be creative.
In the summer of 2016, Maia Weinstock, MIT News deputy editor submitted an entry to ‘LEGO Ideas’, a platform that allows people around the world to propose new ideas for LEGO sets.
Her concept was to honour five women who made historic contributions to the US Space Programme. Maia’s “Women of NASA” entry received 10,000 votes from the public in 15 days and was selected to become an official LEGO set.
Women of NASA features four mini figurines of pioneering women from the space agency: the astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison (the first African-American woman in space), the astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, and the computer scientist Margaret Hamilton.
As Dr Abi Hird from KTN’s manufacturing team points out; “We need a diverse innovation ecosystem and to grow a diverse innovation ecosystem we need inspirational role models.”
These diverse role models start having an impact at an early age and the sooner we can implant the ideas of equality in career paths the better chance we have at creating lasting change.
Here are five more role models to add to the list of Inspiring Women in Manufacturing:
Tracey Dawson, Managing Director, Daletech
“Be open to Innovation in all areas of our businesses promoting and role modelling flexibility – which will be key to success in the face of new challenges.”
I was appointed Managing Director in August 2016 (after the sudden death of my husband who had been the Managing Director since 1992) and set out to build a strategy for growth. In July 2017 I graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10KSBUK programme which has been pivotal in helping us on our growth trajectory. Daletech was established in 1987 as an electronic manufacturing company focussing on high quality, diverse, niche products. My journey has opened the doors to the marvellous world of manufacturing! And my love of manufacturing has driven my passion to open the doors of manufacturing to the next generation through the Leeds Manufacturing Festival bringing manufacturing alive to young people.
Abigail Levin, Operations Director, Abigail Levin Consulting
“Always be true to yourself. If you are good at what you do, you will gain the respect, trust and friendship of male colleagues. You should never try to alter who you are to fit in. If you don’t feel you fit in – move do not change who you are”
Abigail Levin Bsc (Eng), ACGI, CEng, MBA – I graduated in 1986 from Imperial College with a degree in Electrical Engineering and immediately joined the Chemical Giant (as was) ICI, as a Control Engineer. I had a fantastic 11 years with them working all over the UK and in Germany, becoming chartered in 1990 and obtaining an MBA from Durham University in 1994. Armed with good solid engineering and project management experience I changed track and joined Accenture in South Africa as a strategy consultant – amazing experience and the opportunity to see a range of companies, a new country and learn new skills, but I missed engineering. In 2000 I set up a company, in the UK, to provide consultancy to SMEs, predominantly manufacturing companies in Yorkshire and I have never regretted it.
Dr Carmen Torres-Sanchez, Reader in Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing, Loughborough University
“The UK is a knowledge-driven economy and women possess the skills to thrive in a working environment where both technical and soft skills are crucial to bring the most out of people. Women should not shrink from the opportunity to come forward and leverage their enormous potential to make the UK a competitive global leader in digital manufacturing”
Dr Carmen Torres-Sanchez is a Reader in Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing, leader of the MMM lab at Loughborough University, Executive Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence incorporating her brainchild Doctoral Transition Zone™ Training ethos. Her research interests are on design and manufacture of materials and structures with more than one function, e.g porosity tailored to meet specific structural, thermal, biochemical requirements. This has driven her to develop a technology to adjust cellular structure of polymeric and metal foams via controlled ultrasonic irradiation that has seen applications in transport, regen-med, and in the food & drink industries. Aided by computational thinking approaches and digital representations of both the final product and the manufacturing process that evolves with it, she aims to accelerate the innovation cycle that will produce novel, high-value and bespoke materials, and bring science and manufacturing closer to improve productivity.
Dr Sarah Petrie, Innovation Director, Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc
“Don’t keep doing things the same way just because it works and is comfortable. Women often bring a different way of thinking, so consider how you can improve and experiment with new processes. Occasionally, take time to try things differently and see what happens.”
Sarah has over 25 years’ experience in innovation and commercialisation. In her previous role as Innovation and Commercialisation Manager with Scottish Enterprise, she focussed on the life sciences sector and enjoyed working to help it to grow and develop. Subsequently she supported innovation activities across a range of industries including Food and Drink, Creative Industries, Data and Chemicals. This involved the creation of collaborative ventures, new companies and working with existing companies to support their growth, product development and innovation ambitions. Sarah is responsible for all innovation activity at MSIP. As well as working with our academic partners and other innovation parks, she will explore opportunities for collaboration across industry, academia and government, creating a dynamic environment for our Innovation Campus and partners. Her role is to enable industry and academic partners to secure further sources of funding from external sources such as Innovate UK and the European Union.
Andrea Wilson, Director, Hone-All Precision Ltd
“My one piece of advice for Women in the industry is to ensure they experience every aspect of the business they’re working within in order to understand, question and improve processes and performance. Women bring a fresh perspective to many engineering and manufacturing businesses and the most successful of companies embrace this fresh approach and are more flexible, responsive and adaptable as a result.”
Andrea Wilson is a Director of Hone-All Precision, an SME specialising in deep hole boring, drilling, honing and CNC turning. Hone-All is recognised throughout the industry and regularly cited as an exemplar business for continuous improvement and regular investment in both their teams and technology. Andrea has been active in influencing the Government’s focus towards long term manufacturing success for over 20 years, through the EEDA Manufacturing Panel, the Automotive Academy and NSAM / SEMTA skills Council and has spoken at a large number of manufacturing launch and promotional events. Andrea has been Chair of the Make UK Eastern Regional Advisory Board for over 10 years and is a passionate campaigner for better quality training provision; for improved Government support which suits a wider variety of business sizes and specialities; and also improving the recognition and image of engineering and manufacturing within the UK.