Women engineers working on the proposed HS2 rail line are visiting secondary schools in the area as part of a campaign to recruit more females into the sector.
HS2 Ltd’s lady engineers spoke at a workshop for 40 female Year 9 students at the Cavendish School in Hemel Hempstead on June 23, which was National Women in Engineering day.
The event, part of HS2 Ltd’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) inspiration programme, highlighted the wealth of opportunities for women in the industry.
Organised in partnership with The Smallpeice Trust, one of the key aims of the day at the school in Warners End Road was to teach the students about the applications of STEM subjects, give them the chance to talk to current engineers and hopefully inspire the next generation of women in the engineering sector.
The girls mixed with the engineers by ‘speed networking’, where they will get the opportunity to find out how our engineers got where they are today and what a day doing their job really involves.
Practical activities were set up to get them thinking like engineers and understanding the real-life applications of engineering.
The girls took part in an icebreaker passenger experience challenge, where they were asked to design and build a seat for the new HS2 trains using balloons and tape, highlighting the technological features they would include that will enhance the passenger experience.
The second, a station experience challenge, needed them to design and build a new HS2 station with a focus on making a prototype moving walkway and lift.
Beth West, HS2 Ltd Commercial Director, said: “Our female ambassadors are working to spread the message that being a woman is not a barrier to working in the rail industry.
“HS2 is a 21st century project and we want to lead by example on diversity.
“We strongly believe in the value of women in the workforce and currently a third of our engineers and our executive team are female.
“We will build on that along with the wider industry, where only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce is female.”
Simon Kirby, HS2 Ltd CEO, added: “Over the life of the project HS2 Ltd will be offering 2,000 apprenticeships to young people and 100,000 jobs.
“Figures show that 75 per cent of students have a better idea about how academic choices affect their career path after speaking with an employer.
“So, days like this are really important as we need young qualified people to move into these roles and drive forward our future infrastructure development.”
Transport minister Lord Ahmad said: “This government’s investment in world-class infrastructure, like HS2, will create jobs and opportunities across the country as part of our long-term economic plan.
“We need to make use of all available talent to ensure Britain stays on the right track.
“Women currently make up a tiny proportion of our surveyors, engineers and construction professionals.
“We need to overhaul the sector’s image, so engineering and construction are a more attractive career option for women.
“A diverse workforce means a more successful workforce, which is why I am backing this campaign.”
The STEM programme is looking for other schools along the line of route which are interested in organising a workshop.
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