Dr Kirsty Clode of Women into Manufacturing and Engineering shares key insights into promoting diversity within industry
I didn’t follow a traditional career path for a girl. I loved science and maths at school and had a brilliant and inspirational chemistry teacher called Mr Pinches. After school I thought a career in the chemical industry would be exciting so completed a BSc and PhD in Chemistry. This got me into BP, the Oil and Gas major, where I worked for 27 years until 2016. I worked in areas ranging from research and technology to plant operations, safety and assurance and thoroughly enjoyed working with many fabulous people around the world. I lived and worked in both South Korea and the US (twice) and travelled to amazing places like Azerbaijan, Australia and Canada. I didn’t realise it until quite late in my career but I was really breaking some boundaries.
One of the things I’m passionate about is diversity …………. not just ethnicity or gender but the diversity of thinking. From my experience as a leader in this industry, diverse teams produce better results and are more successful over time. My current passion is encouraging more girls and women to test the same boundaries I did and consider a career in this exciting industry. The data I’ve seen shows that girls are just as good as boys at STEM subjects at school but the majority of them don’t continue to study them above GCSE. This means that they are missing out on many amazing career paths and companies are missing out on this great pool of talent.
I’m not alone in wanting more women to be part of our workforce. Women into Manufacturing and Engineering (WiME) is a business led collaborative programme in the Humber, supported by Green Port Hull in partnership with Job Centre Plus. We set it up in 2016 when 3 companies in Hull highlighted difficulty in attracting female talent to their organisations. I chair the WiME programme which is full of amazing ladies. We work with over 20 Humber businesses in the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors, our local schools and colleges plus the National Careers Week team.
I recognised early on that ‘it’s hard to be what you cannot see’. We therefore run events to raise the profile of the many inspiring women who work in these industries such as Kelly and Lewanda above. I have benefited in my career from having great people around me and some fantastic mentors. I hope that by providing girls and ladies with access to role models like Kelly and Lewanda we can show them that they can do it too.
The WiME Partners passionately believe that girls and women should know about the fabulous opportunities open to them in manufacturing and engineering so we go to great efforts to showcase the incredible careers they can offer and the variety of routes you can take to them, including apprenticeships. The results have been hugely positive and I’m confident that as more girls and women meet women like themselves already working in these industries the number of females in our workforce will continue to grow.