Today is International Women in Engineering Day and this year the focus is on inventors and innovators who are helping to build a brighter future for everyone. It’s designed to shine a light on all the great achievements of women in engineering and to encourage more women to move into engineering careers.
Somebody who is celebrating today is Danielle Cherry, Business Lead for Water Networks, and chair of the Severn Trent Women in Operations and STEM advisory group. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The group was created last year to attract more women to STEM roles and to support them during their time in those roles.
When asked if Danielle considers herself a scientist, technologist, engineer, or mathematician, she says: “Probably all four! I’ve studied economics and science-related subjects. I work in an industry with science and technology at its core. And I’ve been in operational jobs most of my career.
“For me though, it’s more about having diversity represented in every layer and every area of the business. That includes increasing the number of women in STEM jobs.”
STEM activities taking place today
Today, year 10 girls from schools in Coventry have been invited to the Severn Trent Academy to hear from inspiring young women in engineering positions at Severn Trent. They’ll also take part in virtual reality activities that bring to life some of the amazing career opportunities available to them.
In addition to running one of the sessions in the academy, Danielle is also hosting the Women in STEM and Ops webinar that’s been advertised both inside and outside of the organisation.
Danielle says: “We’ll be sharing career stories on the webinar and exploring ways women can get into STEM roles, even if they’ve not necessarily got STEM-related qualifications.
“We don’t want women to discount opportunities because they think they’re not qualified to do a job. Sometimes women have re-trained later in their lives and gone on to have successful STEM careers.”
Around a third of all employees in Severn Trent are female. Initiatives like the ones Danielle describes are underway to try and increase this number.
Danielle adds: “Many of the jobs in Severn Trent are operational and typically done by men. As a woman who works in an operational role it’s frustrating because it’s one of the most interesting and rewarding jobs you can have in this business.
“We’re doing lots to make operational roles more appealing to a wider set of people. Things like reviewing role types and hours, changing the way we advertise our jobs, and making sure our onsite facilities and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is right for everyone.”
STEM opportunities in Severn Trent Services
Kate O’Brien is the HR Business Partner for Severn Trent Services and is keen to encourage more women to roles within this area of the business, as and when they come up.
She says: “Severn Trent Services is an exciting and rewarding place to be. It’s essentially made up of people who are specialists in water and wastewater services that we sell to organisations up and down the country.
“There’s a diverse range of interesting jobs within this part of Severn Trent. From business development managers who have great commercial acumen to help us win business. To technical and operational experts who work on some of our biggest contracts including The Ministry of Defence and The Coal Authority.
“As a mum myself, I know some women might be concerned about juggling parenthood and the demands of a career. But we already have some very talented women flying the flag for STEM who are supported by the business to do both brilliantly.”