By Orna Herr, Communications Officer (Education) at the British Science Association

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Picture an engineer at work. What are they doing? What does their workplace look like? What do they look like? It’s a hard one, isn’t it.

David Guo, an associate professor of engineering at Southern New Hampshire University, defined engineering as “a practical way for human society to change, modify and improve the physical world around us so that humans can have a better life”. A poetic sentiment, but a pretty broad church.  

There’s chemical engineering, civil engineering, bioengineering, aerospace engineering and countless more branches, all staffed by people working in myriad ways to improve our world.  

Engineering is a field in which women are significantly underrepresented, making up just 9% of the workforce. The women who populate this 9% have often had to overcome the ingrained perception of physics and engineering being ‘for men’ from a very young age, and likely more obstacles and discrimination along the way, to become successful in an incredibly male-dominated field.

Through our Smashing Stereotypes campaign, we champion and platform those who are overcoming challenges in their field of work to demonstrate that anyone can be involved in science. We want to show young people across the UK that people in science jobs are just like them.   

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June, here’s a round-up of some of the incredible women engineers from our Smashing Stereotypes campaign. We hope by sharing their stories we are not only celebrating women in engineering but also inspiring more from all backgrounds to see that science is for everyone.

Natalie Kerres – Design engineer

After studying Industrial Design, then earning a master’s in Global Innovation Design, Natalie Kerres became a Design Engineer. She founded and is CEO of her own company, SCALED.

Inspired by animal scales, which provide their owners with a highly effective, protective layer, SCALED designs “custom-fit, protective materials to prevent injuries to the human body”.

Natalie had her eureka moment when looking into healthcare during her time studying in Tokyo. The large, ageing population prompted her to think about how we can preserve quality of life as we get older.

There have been barriers to overcome. Natalie has a background in jewellery design, which has led her to be pigeonholed as ‘arty’; even as a child her habit of creating and building things meant she was “labelled an artist, rather than a scientist”.

She has combined art and design with engineering to become a true innovator.

Lauren Doyle – Chemical engineer

Often, Lauren Doyle told us, she has walked into a meeting in her capacity as a chemical engineer to find that she is the only woman in the room. She is now the Site Net Zero Lead at Urenco.

This is undoubtedly an experience shared by many other women working in engineering, but Lauren has not been deterred. She is dedicated to her work finding ways to reduce carbon emissions for all the processes at Urenco, helping to protect the environment.

Lauren has been passionate about conservationism for as long as she can remember, and after discovering chemical engineering when looking at university courses, she found a way to combine that passion with engineering to make a real difference.

She told us how proud her younger self would be of what she’s accomplished, and said:

I would love for young women to look at careers in engineering and know that there is a place for them, just like there was for me.

Mimi Nwosu – Civil engineer

After tagging along with a friend at university to his lecture on bridge design and construction, Mimi Nwosu knew engineering was the path for her.

She switched course and university to start studying civil engineering at the University of Portsmouth. Fast forward a few years and Mimi is now an Industrial Civil Engineer at Heathrow Airport!

Mimi told us she loves watching planes taking off from her desk and soaking in the excitement of all the holiday makers. She said:

I can be working on bridges, tunnels, and terminal buildings all in the same week. But whatever project I’m working on, there’s always one thing in common – the opportunity for me to be creative and to think outside of the box.

Being a woman in engineering puts you in the minority, being a black woman even more so, but Mimi says she has “created connections with many supportive teams and communities who champion women in engineering and construction, and want to see me do well”.

Dr Esther Odekunle – Antibody engineer

Dr Esther Odekunle has always been on the biology track, having earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and PhD in Neurobiology. She combined her passion and expertise with engineering to move from academia to pharmaceuticals to become an antibody engineer.

Her role is to identify and remove risks in antibodies to make them as safe as possible in the development of medicines. Esther told us:

There are so many great parts to the job, but one of the best parts is getting to learn about different diseases, and then be involved in developing antibodies that could one day become medicines to fight these diseases.

Medicine and engineering might not seem like obvious bedfellows, but as David Guo said, engineering is all about improving the physical world so humans can have a better life, which is what Esther’s job is all about:

Our main motivation is to improve the lives of others by using our skills and expertise to discover and develop medicines.

Read more Smashing Stereotypes profiles of women in engineering:

Charlotte Grinyer – Research engineer

Zereh Pam – Software Engineer Degree- Apprentice

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee – Flight systems engineer

The Smashing Stereotypes campaign will be back for British Science Week 2025. The profiles and new classroom resource are fantastic for presenting aspiring students with inspiring role models.  

Young people who are thinking about studying engineering at university could use the summer holidays to earn a Gold CREST Award for a project with an engineering lilt, to demonstrate their interest and aptitude.

More blogs you might be interested in:

Working hard, having fun and smashing stereotypes

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: The Smashing Stereotypes stamp