Back to basics - cracking the code starts at childhood

WGA News: Back to basics - cracking the code starts at childhood Article Image
Isabella Newman, Graduate Engineer, WGA

Why did you choose this industry to work in?

I have always been interested in science, maths, and technology since I was little. I knew I was looking to join like minds in pursuing this area. I wanted to challenge myself and demonstrate to other young women that my role as a female engineer is for everyone, as historically and still today, engineering is a male dominated field.

There may be some young girls who hear of engineering through their fathers and their male friends, such as my experience, which can convey the idea that this industry is for solely men. I want to challenge this view and hopefully be role model to young and inquisitive female minds. My younger years had a huge impact on shaping my decision to study engineering, with my parents allowing me to explore my own creativity in science and maths and encouraging these interests from a young age.

What do you enjoy most about working in WGA?

This is my first engineering career outside of completing university, graduating with honours in Chemical Engineering. I have been working with WGA for 6 months, and I expect to learn and experience much more in the years to come. I have loved learning about how equipment and chemicals interact, accompanied by the impact they have on their surroundings- that being communities, environment and technology, and exploring ways in which these areas can be improved.

What’s the three most important things you learnt as a professional in the engineering workforce?

Balancing work/life routine – transitioning from university to a full-time role has left me prioritising the activities and friendships I value far more in order to fill my cup.

You have something to learn from everyone. Each individual you encounter; no matter their role, has valuable knowledge to impart, you just have to be open to listening.

To accept any challenge or opportunity which comes my way. Tasks I have willingly accepted; despite my apprehensiveness and own questions regarding my abilities, have left me feeling accomplished and proud of myself. I now look for these uncomfortable feelings as I know the final destination results in personal growth.

What can you say about the expectations vs the reality of working in engineering?

I remember being one of two women who applied for engineering at my school. I received some interesting feedback from peers and even teachers, who would make disheartening comments on my career choice due to their lack of understanding of the role and pre-conceived knowledge/stereo-types based upon what an engineer should look like.

I had my reservations on whether I would be respected due to my gender, size, and appearance, as I was potentially up against quite experienced men who may not have encountered many girls in their position before. I did my best to prepare myself for this, however since I started my role I have not once been met with any pushback or disrespect. Since joining WGA, I have been embraced, treated equally, supported and feel confident to express my voice. I am very grateful for WGA to allow me to have this platform. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love being active – anything outdoors such as hikes, runs and getting out to see nature or animals is up my alley. I am very much an introvert too, so reading and re-charging in my comfort zone is also important to me.

What are your hopes/dreams in terms of career achievement?

My focus currently is learning and trying to expose myself to as many as people in the business as possible, as limiting myself would not allow me to gain a variety of knowledge and perspectives from the valuable individuals that work with WGA.

As a young graduate, I would love to incorporate my passion for teaching, and inspiring the younger generation to explore the world of STEM and the benefits this career has to offer. 

How could the engineering industry attract and retain more women?

I strongly believe that this involvement and acceptance of women in engineering begins with families and schools. It is about empowering young girls and children to explore and immerse themselves in building, creating and investigating each day, and embracing this creative nature. I was fortunate in my upbringing that I always had parental support in anything I chose to do.

Seeing strong, independent women in leadership sends a strong message to young women that it is achievable.

I want to emphasise that not only can companies provide these women role models to younger girls by appointing women in leadership, but a multigenerational approach in encouraging women to pursue STEM careers is where it begins.

IWD theme for this year is #embraceequity. In an ideal world what would this mean for you?

For myself; in an ideal world, it means to have open conversations and empower and allow women to become their most fulfilled selves. Whether this is within a corporate environment or socially. Traditionally and still today as I have previously mentioned, this industry is a male dominated sector, and singularly male needs and experiences have been considered. It is very much time for a more well-rounded view and approach to be taken. Having open conversations not only to women by women, but by including men allows for us all to learn together with an increased level equality and understanding.

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