International Women in Engineering Day 23rd June 2020

INWED is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.

Community spoke to Angela Carrigan, one of our Liberty Steel Reps based in Scotland and asked her to share her story with us:
  • Did you start as an apprentice?

“No, I didn’t go down the route of an Apprenticeship. I did a degree in Mathematical Sciences and then a Post Graduate Diploma in Industrial Mathematics.”

  • What attracted you to your current job?

“Like many graduates, I had fallen into the banking sector after graduating – which, although a fulfilling career, is quite a sterile paperless environment.  Industry is completely different; you can see a tangible ‘End Product’ to the work you do and that’s the kind of career I wanted.”

  • What careers guidance did you receive?

“Not nearly as much as the schools provide now! All I had was one meeting with the Guidance Teacher at my High School and that was it. 

Over the past few years, I’ve worked on behalf of Liberty Dalzell with a local Secondary School and Primary School providing support for their many career initiatives, ranging from General Careers, Apprenticeships, Stem and Maths within Industry.  There is so much more information and guidance available to our School Kids now allowing them to make informed career choices.”

  • What do you enjoy most about your job?

“Bit of a cliché, but every day is a school day.  There are always new challenges.  Customers and market conditions are always challenging us to improve and enhance the products we supply.

The best bit is after working as a team on a new project, agreeing a Steel Chemistry, process route and testing regime, you can actually go on plant and see the Specification you have created produce a ‘Steel Plate’ , that will be fabricated into a bridge, ship or building throughout the world, that will be utilised by many people. 

Since working for Liberty Steel Dalzell (3yrs), I can say that the Specifications I’ve created have been used to produce 20,500 tonnes of ‘Steel Plate’ used in construction throughout the world.” 

  • How easy was it to get the job?

“I had the required qualifications already, so it was a CV along with application form – followed by interview.”

  • Steel is still very much a male dominated sector and you are the only female technologist in your workplace. Do you feel respected by your colleagues?

“Our Technical department is small group of scientists working as a team to best meet the needs of our customers.  It only works because we deal in facts and figures and fully respect each other’s opinions and have the freedom and confidence to challenge each other.

I shouldn’t be saying I’m lucky to work in such a team where my gender isn’t an issue, it should be the ‘norm’.  After all this is 2020, 50 years since equal pay, it’s just disappointing that we are still talking about inconsistent behaviours due to gender.” 

  • What are the challenges to your work life balance?

“When I had my children, it was my choice to work part-time and have done so for over 14 years.   Again, this has only worked for me due to the good working relationship with my co-workers and good organised processes.

But I feel that this is an area where, in my experiences, attitudes still need to evolve.  Yes, I work ‘Part-Time’, which just means I work less hours that others but as an employee my dedication and commitment is no less just because I work less hours. As such part-time workers should not be considered less of an asset.

The introduction of flexible working, family friendly policies have been good, but there is still a glut in employers advertising for ‘Part-time’ quality jobs.  Thus, still giving the perception that full time working is superior to part time working.”

  • What advice would you give other women looking to enter similar occupations?

“This is 2020, women have been proving for years that they are more than capable of working in all conditions, they managed to keep industry alive during two world wars. It shouldn’t be an issue anymore. 

The one point I should add though – we talk about the lack of females within engineering roles or on the production floor, but we should also be talking about the lack of female applicants.  When my employer was last advertising for a new Technologist, not one female applied. We need to keep educating and talking to young women to encourage them into this very rewarding sector.

Don’t sit on the outside looking in, you can only change from the inside!”

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