“Right now, engineering is male dominated, but you can already see there is an emphasis on getting more female engineers and more women into industries like ours, medical devices. For females who might be thinking it might be difficult working in such an environment, my experience is it’s not. If you get into a company like Arrotek, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, you are part of the team.”
That is the message from Rebecca Morrow, Quality Engineer at Arrotek. Today is International Women in Engineering Day 2023, so Rebecca was sharing her experiences of working as an engineer.
International Women in Engineering Day is a day to celebrate women working as engineers and to promote engineering as a career to girls and young women.
Multiple Routes into Engineering
Many people have preconceived ideas about the path you need to take to become an engineer. This usually involves coming out of secondary school with strong marks in science and maths subjects, going to university to get a degree, and then looking for a job as a junior-level engineer. Rebecca’s story proves this is just one route women can take to become an engineer.
“I became an engineer nearly by default,” Rebecca said. “I had been working in a pharmaceutical company for about four-and-a-half years when I got a call asking if I would like to work in the medical device industry in an engineering role. I jumped at the chance to expand my career in a different direction.”
Rebecca’s role in quality ties in with the theme of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day – Make Safety Seen. In medical device product development and manufacturing, the role of quality is essential for a wide range of reasons, including patient safety.
Rebecca said: “I have a background in animal science, and I was working in a quality role for the pharmaceutical company, but the duties were mostly administrative, reviewing paperwork. The role I have now in Arrotek is much more engineering focused.
“My previous skills were transferable, but there was also a massive hands-on approach when I joined Arrotek to learn new skills, see how the products work, and get used to using the equipment. It was about getting stuck in with the other engineers.”
Working in a Male-Dominated Industry
Rebecca said that while things are changing and more women are becoming engineers in the medical device industry, it is still male dominated.
Rebecca said: “There are great opportunities for women in this industry, but I have to admit when I first went in, I felt very out of place. It was nothing about Arrotek as a company – it was just because the environment was male dominated. Those feelings quickly lifted, and my experience from that time is that it doesn’t matter if you are male, female, young, old, as it’s a very inclusive environment at Arrotek.
“Once I got over the initial shock, I felt really part of the team. I was one of them, so it was very much a case of getting stuck in.
“My role is customer-facing, so I speak to customers a lot, and that part of the job is very male dominated too. But I have found the experience similar to the internal experience in Arrotek where my opinion is valued and listened to.”
What It Is Like Working as an Engineer
“There is so much within the engineering field,” said Rebecca, “and I find it all extremely interesting. There is something different every day and you are actually getting stuck into how things work and operate. I work in quality, but it isn’t just a case of you are just focused on quality. Your opinion is also needed to feed into the overall process, and I like that about the role.
“I also like the continuous push to see how we can make this better, how can we adapt, how can we make it more efficient. No day is ever the same, so you have to think on your feet.”
Advice to Tomorrow’s Female Engineers
Rebecca gave her advice to young women considering their future career options: “My advice is, don’t be afraid to push yourself and challenge yourself. For me, coming from a pharmaceutical environment, I didn’t know the medical device industry and I wasn’t an engineer. But it’s amazing how much you pick up.
“So, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t because I’m a firm believer that you can.”