In the lead-up to International Women in Engineering Day, we interviewed AJ, our Skilled Facilities Technician to find out her thoughts on the future of women in Engineering…
Hi AJ! So, what made you decide to work within Facilities?
I grew up around contractors and property developers, so I've always had a passion for working with my hands (I got my first hard hat when I was 3!) But, when it came time to go to university, I decided to study Marketing and Advertising, as I'd always been told I'm good at anticipating what people need (and a bit of a "gift for the gab"), and I thought it was a more ‘female office job’ avenue. However, after graduating, I quickly realised I was not suited to sitting behind a desk and went back to trade-based roles. They offer a different type of creativity and need for anticipation that some are more suited to. And when working in a hospitality environment, it also requires those people skills... so it's sort of like two worlds combining: enjoying working with your hands and interacting with people... and both aspects appeal to me!
And what do you love most about what you do?
I love that it's a different challenge every day. If you're a plumber, you just do plumbing. If you're an electrician, you just do electrics. But with a maintenance technician role, you encounter all types of different issues and gain knowledge in every field. There also comes a sense of pride when you fix something... I usually end up standing back and admiring the job I've just done. You feel a sense of satisfaction when you've repaired something and helped the people who had an issue... like a hero!
What do you think the opportunities are for women in facilities/engineering?
I think there are many opportunities for women in maintenance and engineering roles, but there may be some hesitation to pursue them due to it being seen as a more ‘male field’. But there is nothing to hinder women in these roles; most issues just require analytical thinking, rather than brute strength. It's also important to remember that you can work trade jobs and still be feminine. Although I won't wear make up at work (as the last thing you need when fixing a water leak is your mascara running) I still get my nails done. If anything, I take pride in the fact that I can replace a radiator or install a new light fitting without breaking a nail!
What would you say to young women and girls who want to be engineers/work within facilities roles when they grow up?
I would tell them that if they enjoy working with their hands, and building and creating things, to keep pursuing it. There's no rule to say women should be excluded from manual roles. My grandmother was enlisted in the RAF to work on an aircraft during WW2 as the men were away fighting... so even during eras where women were seen generally as "homemakers", they proved they had the skills to fix and build things. In this era, there's nothing holding women back from these roles but their own confidence.
I would like to see more women pursuing trade roles, and they are. I used to be quite a novelty, but now there are much more women working in more technical roles, and hopefully, that trend will continue.
Are you interested in a career in engineering or facilities? Check out our available roles here!