With Science week in full swing, it’s time to turn the spotlight on women making waves in the world of STEM. Though technology and engineering roles remain male dominated there are more women than ever bridging the gender divide. Rullion spoke to Mechanical Engineer at Siemens, Maria Papadopoulou, to find out about her engineering inspiration.
How Did You Decide to Become an Engineer?
My Dad worked as a technician in the train industry. After a few years he became a driver. He would take me to visit the factory where I would see engines or sit up front with him while he drove. I was familiar with machines from a young age and he took the time to explain how things worked. My Dad was an early engineering hero for me and sparked my interest in the world of technology.
Later at school, I loved mathematics and problem-solving. At 16, in Greece, we are required to choose between courses on social or science studies like maths and physics. After a couple of days on the social direction of studies I knew I had made the wrong choice, I switched across to the more science based areas of studies. of study and this was a defining moment for me.
"I fell in love with the process of understanding and designing solutions from beginning to end and decided to go on and study mechanical engineering".
What Do You Love About Your Role?
I’m passionate about the field of engineering and this makes waking up and coming to work every day a lot of fun. The work we do here in gas turbines is quite industrial and I enjoy this aspect of engineering. I also get a lot of satisfaction from being able to contribute to the design and development of our products at every stage. On top of the technical parts of my role, I work alongside a great group of people and I think this is an incredibly important factor in feeling happy within a role.
What Has Been Your Career Path So Far?
I studied Mechanical Engineering at university in Greece before coming over to the UK to complete my Masters in the design of rotating machines at Cranfield University. I began work with Siemens straight after completing my Master’s degree and I have been here for a little under a year and a half.
What Has Been Your Biggest Challenge?
The subject itself is challenging. It’s a challenge I love but it is a difficult and complex area of study to choose. Also, as a woman in this industry, it can be hard to break into roles that are in very industrial or hands-on environments. This perception is changing but still exists in some fields of engineering.
Why Do You Think So Few Girls Study Engineering?
There are very few role models for women in engineering, it’s not something that’s often represented on TV or in the media. It’s hard for girls to imagine themselves in these jobs without anyone to look up to and we need to address this balance. There are also very few women in senior roles in engineering and it’s important to show girls that this is a career path they can achieve highly in.
"It’s not that girls don’t like engineering but that they don’t have enough exposure to it as a potential career".
How Can the Industry Encourage More Women into Engineering?
We need to make engineering accessible to both girls and boys at a school level by bringing them into industrial environments or speaking to them about our industry. Engineering organisations must also promote and support women within the industry, speaking about success stories and showing girls they can do this.
Things are changing for the better but we have a long road ahead of us and we need to work hard to encourage girls into this field of study. We are at an early stage of developing a more balanced industry and it’s important to keep talking about this as an issue.