Celebrating Women in Engineering and Computer Science

23rd June 2017.  On Friday 23 July, King Edward VII School Sheffield hosted an exciting event for 75 female Y7-Y9 students from across South Yorkshire to meet female experts in the fields of Computer Science and Engineering, to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2017. The event was organised and managed by Gaia Innovation and was sponsored by ARM UK, the world’s leader in semiconductor Intellectual Property.

The day began with keynote speeches from three professionals holding very different roles in engineering. Antony Harris, Engineering Director at ARM UK, opened the event with a talk about ARM and the importance of gender balance in the engineering sector. This was followed by an inspiring speech from Andrea Catlow, a Finalist in this year’s First Women Awards and the Site Operations Director at Frontier Pitts, the leading British manufacturer of blockers, barriers and gates. The girls particularly enjoyed Andrea’s personal career story, and hearing about how she does not compromise her femininity whilst working in a stereotypically make role, choosing to combine her hard hat and steel capped boots with dresses and painted finger nails. Finally a different perspective was offered by Maha Kahn, Graduate Energy Consultant at ARUP, a multinational professional services firm. Maha encouraged the girls to have the courage to follow their passion and study the subjects and pursue careers in areas that truly interested them, rather than conforming to any female stereotypes.

A lively Career Speed Networking event then enabled the students to engage in small groups with fourteen female business professionals and academics, and ask them questions about their careers, the rewards available and what they enjoy most about their jobs. Many of these volunteers were Women in Engineering Society (WES) ambassadors.

Students also took part in fun hands-on engineering activities such as building solar powered cars, engaging with robotics and using coding to locate resources on their ‘Mission to Mars’.

Here is a full list of industry experts who attended the networking event:

Andrea Catlow, Site Operations Manager, Frontier Pitts

Maha Khan, Graduate Energy Consultant, Arup

Jody Allot, CNC Machining Apprentice, AMRC Training Centre

Hawa Aorith, Electrical Building Services Design Engineer, Arup

Tessa Colledge, Software Engineer, Autodesk

Heidi Christensen, Lecturer, University of Sheffield

Sophy Ellis, Programme Manager, Unipart

Nicola Gough, Head of Department – Closures Engineering, Bentley Motors Ltd.

Kathryn Jackson, Technology Researcher and Lecturer, AMRC Nuclear

Peta Kirk, Lecturer, University of Sheffield

Sarah Lee, Principal Engineer, Eadon Consulting

Jenny Lightfoot, Geoenvironmental Specialist, Arup

Elizba Rio Joseph, Engineer, Verification IP, ARM UK Ltd

Louisa Wilson, Skill Group Leader and Principal Engineer, ARM UK Ltd


Julia Muir, CEO of Gaia Innovation Ltd closed the day with a speech in which she urged the girls to consider careers in engineering and computer science. She told them “Every product we use has been designed, engineered and manufactured. At the moment most of these things are designed, engineered and manufactured by men. Yet they are bought and used by women. We need more women to take up careers in computer science, product design and engineering, to embrace advanced technology, and to make their contribution to shaping how we live our lives in the future.

David Kavanagh, Head of Computer Science at King Edward VII said “Working with the Gaia Team is incredibly easy and straightforward. From our first meeting I felt as though they were definitely what I needed. They were incredibly organised and left no stone unturned to obtain exactly what I needed and from their experience they were able to advise me on the best strategy for the day to be a great success. The day ran uncommonly smoothly and went off without a hitch, which when one has delegates from all over the country and students from all around the county it is imperative. Gaia’s team worked tirelessly and made me feel completely at ease throughout the entire process.”

A female volunteer, Tessa Colledge, Software Engineer at Autodesk UK, said “The level of student engagement was very impressive, better than any other careers event I have attended. I also thought that the mixture of hands on activity and interaction with professionals gave the students a good flavour of what engineering is like. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet other women in engineering roles and find out about their careers.”

Antony Harris, Engineering Director at ARM UK said “It’s really important to have smart young people engage with technology and engineering, as they will be creating our future. It was wonderful to see so many energized girls at this event, and I hope to see them applying their copious talents at ARM and other technology companies in a few years’ time.”