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International Women in Engineering Day: Q&A with NSCG's Lisa Reading

Sunday 23 June 2024 marks International Women in Engineering Day. To mark the day we spoke to NSCG’s Lisa Reading, Assistant Director of Curriculum: Engineering, Construction and Motor Vehicle.

Lisa has worked at NSCG for more than 20 years, and as an advocate for women in engineering we wanted to hear more about her career, experiences and hopes for the industry in the future.


How do you think we can encourage more women into an engineering career?

I think we need to start working on promotion at earlier ages. There is definitely more work with STEM areas within primary education which is great, but we need to show young people that there are so many career options available to them within engineering. Promoting diversity and encouraging more women can only be a positive thing so by taking part in days like today we can continue to share inspiring stories and change perceptions to encourage more diversity in the engineering sectors.

What’s really exciting is that lots of jobs that our future young people will be doing haven’t even been created yet so to be in such an innovative and creative industry is great and highlighting that message to younger children is really important.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering studying an engineering qualification?

As diverse as the world is, so is the engineering sector. There are so many doors that could open to you if you study engineering. It’s not all dirty work and construction, you could work in CAD, environmental engineering, software engineering – yes, some can be muckier, but the breadth of careers is incredible.

What is your experience of being a woman in a male-dominated industry?

I’ve been in the industry for such a long time now and would say that attitudes have certainly changed for the better. When I first started there was definitely an element of ignorance, if you walked into a meeting with male colleagues they thought you were there to take the minutes.

Thankfully, it’s changed now and things have moved on for the better. However, women still face barriers in engineering – there is still pay disparity in lots of sectors for example.

Why is female talent so important in the industry?

I’m an advocate for women becoming engineers. My eldest daughter did her degree in automation control robotics and my youngest daughter is also studying engineering. There is a greater number of women proportionately in engineering now and you see them progress very quickly as they tend to be very driven.

Women bring ideas and skills that give that diversity and the issue for me isn’t gender related really, it’s showing that anyone from any background is capable of excelling in engineering sectors. Promoting engineering as an accessible career for all is where it’s been a challenge so we don’t just need to break down gender barriers, we need to promote to people from all walks of life.

Every year there are always students who aren’t quite sure what to do so my advice would be to just give it a try – especially women! Come and find out for yourself how innovative and interesting engineering is.

Do you have any female engineers who inspire you?

I’ve certainly been inspired by female colleagues and teaching staff over the years. What’s great is the male lecturers who work at NSCG are inspiring too and they are passionate about promoting engineering to women and want to inspire diversity, so it’s great to work with so many passionate women and men.