To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2022, we asked Hilary Pilkington, one of our MOD 5 testers who works for our rail testing team, to answer some questions for us on her experiences working in engineering. MPI are grateful to have many female workers like Hilary in our workforce and remain committed to supporting the diverse growth of people choosing engineering for their career by making options visible to all, providing positive role models and increasing our trainee scheme availability.
Our thanks goes out to all those that continue to choose MPI as their agency to represent them in the engineering sector and in particular, thank you in particular to Hilary for her contributions to engineering and for allowing us to share this insight into her career – we have made a donation to the Stroke Association as Hilary’s chosen charity.
1.) Did you also want to go into engineering or was it a happy accident?
I was always fascinated & enjoyed everything technical at school but I’d no idea that I’d end up working on the railway – that part was a happy accident!
2.) The theme this year is #Imaginethefuture. When you started training in engineering did you feel your future opportunities were limited or extensive as a woman in a traditionally male field?
There were a few other women who started when I did but we were spread over the country. I was given as equal an opportunity as everyone else on my apprenticeship. I was offered the job along with many other apprentices, all men, after I’d done a couple of weeks of work experience & thoroughly loved the environment.
3.) Sub Question: Do you now see these opportunities differently? Has the industry changed? Is the future different for the next generation of female engineers?
I have noticed of late that women are being more encouraged to be a part of engineering projects. There are still very few of us out on the ground & I still get looks of surprise when I arrive on site or when others see that I’m a woman doing the job that is predominately male dominated.
4.) Over your career have you been treated differently by colleagues, managers, clients or people who report to you because of your gender?
Initially, over 30 years ago there were some work colleagues who didn’t treat me, shall we say, kindly & made my life awkward. That’s not always been the case fortunately & now it is always a pleasure going to work.
5.) Sub Question: is this changing? And if so would you say that is because YOU have made people respect you or because the industry is changing?
Things have changed over the 33 years that I’ve been in the industry, there is more advertising encouraging women into the construction & engineering industry. So many friends didn’t even know that it was possible. I have worked with many people throughout my railway career & I’d like to think that they respect me & find it a pleasure to work with me, as I do working with them.
6.) This is the 9th year of Women In Engineering Day, would you say they are making a difference in encouraging females to take this career path?
There is definitely more advertising of projects showing both women & men working together which is very encouraging. If my friends hadn’t realised it was possible to take this path, hopefully they should do now.
7.) What advice do you personally have for females thinking of entering the engineering world?
Just do it, it’s a great opportunity & if it’s something you’ve always dreamed of doing, reality is 100 times more satisfying. Best choice I ever made!
Thank you so much Hilary for your time and fabulous answers.