Although we are supporting Scottish National Apprentice week it is also International Women’s Day today. We thought it would be great to tie these two events together and have a chat with one of our senior welder/fabricators on how we can attract more women into the engineering industry.
Katie Roe has been with Ocean Kinetics for over three years and has been a fully qualified and coded welder for ten years now. This experience and ability means Katie is a senior member of our workshop team and takes the lead on many projects. She also passes on advice and guidance to our younger apprentices as they go through their training.
So Katie, where are you originally from?
Doncaster in South Yorkshire.
What made you choose a career as a welder?
There was limited job opportunities in my area when I left school in 2005 but there were companies offering apprenticeships so I put my name forward and was lucky enough to be selected.
Were there many other girls that gained a place?
No I was the only girl out of 40 apprenticeships.
How did that feel?
It was fine really, everybody is in the same boat wanting to do well so you all become one team. It’s really like working with your brothers is how I would describe it.
How did the more established older workers feel about having a girl apprentice?
It was no problem. In this industry everyone wants to help the younger ones and pass on knowledge and tips so everyone was very supportive and I never felt any issues because of being a girl.
How did you end up at Ocean Kinetics?
After finishing my apprenticeship and gaining my qualification I worked on various sites and projects throughout the country. Eventually I was sent to work on a project at the power station at Sullom Voe terminal. I liked Shetland so much I just wanted to stay so I put my CV into Ocean Kinetics and after a short time an opening came up and I’ve been here ever since.
How do you think we can get more girls into engineering?
I don’t know how it is now but when I was at school career advisors tried to push girls into more traditional female type jobs. I hope that’s changed as girls should be encouraged to look at careers in engineering.
I also think that sometimes other women discourage some women from engineering as it’s not considered feminine work. Obviously I disagree with that but I don’t think it should be seen as male orientated industry.
Women maybe shouldn’t be so apprehensive about working in an industrial sector. Although I am working alongside lots of males I’ve had great camaraderie, teamwork and support from my fellow workers and haven’t had any experience of misogyny or sexism. I think there a bit of a myth built up around that in this type of industry as I haven’t seen it. The management wouldn’t tolerate it in any case but it hasn’t been an issue for me.
What is it you enjoy about your job Katie?
There’s great satisfaction in taking something from a drawing right through to a complete structure knowing I have built that myself or as part of a team. Working out the different processes and welding required to complete a job is always interesting. No two days are the same and you are working on different projects or sites every day so there’s always variety in what you do.
Finally what would your advice be to a young 15 or 16 year old girl wondering about an engineering apprentice?
There’s no obstacles or challenges preventing females coming into engineering. It’s a rewarding career that involves making a contribution and being part of a good team and everyone is treated the same – male or female.