Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Role models

Role models

Inspiring women in engineering

Engineering is all around us, and so are engineers - practical, imaginative, sociable and innovative people who design, make and improve hidden components like electronic circuits through to large scale complexes like the new Hong Kong airport. What’s it like to be a woman in engineering, science and technology? Find out by exploring some of our inspiring role models here.

Take a look at the other role models too on our She's an Engineer feature.

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  • Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Physics
    Her interest in science began at the age of 6 when she saw an astronomy book in the school library and decided she wanted a career in space. Despite suffering from dyslexia she went on to university at Imperial College and got her first degree in Physics and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Dr Sima Adhya
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Astronomy/Astrophysics
    Space scientist, Sima Adhya is full of charisma and has a talent for communicating her unsurpassed enthusiasm for her science to both peers and non-specialists alike.
  • Ruth Amos
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Materials
    Ruth Amos is an entrepreneur and inventor of the StairSteady, an aid for people with limited mobility to use their stairs confidently and safely. Amos designed it as part of a GCSE resistant materials project.
  • Lynda Armstrong OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Energy
    Lynda is a Technical Vice President with Shell International. She leads Shell’s Exploration & Production Global Petroleum Engineering field development planning and study organisation, which has centres in the Netherlands, Houston, Aberdeen, India and Qatar.
  • Professor Helen Atkinson FREng
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Metallurgy
    Helen Atkinson is recognised for her major contributions to the science and technology of the manufacture of metallic materials.
  • Melissa Bailey
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: IT
    IBM’s youngest-ever senior certified IT architect
  • Arpinder Bansi
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Ms Bansi advises women to “go for it” rather than dwelling on potential risks. She uses innovative techniques for personal development, for example team-building projects such as pantomime.
  • Helen Barratt
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Manufacturing
    Ms Barratt believes her success winning the CBI First Women Awards recognises her journey from administration assistant to the most senior female manager in operations, helping to break down barriers in a male-dominated industry.
  • Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell DBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Astronomy/Astrophysics
    Jocelyn started her academic career by failing the Northern Ireland equivalent of the 11+ but went on get a Physics degree at Glasgow University and PhD in Radio Astronomy at Cambridge.
  • Kate Bellingham
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Electrical/Electronic
    Kate did not set out to become a TV presenter, but was 'spotted' whilst working for the BBC as an electronics engineer and invited to audition for a Schools TV programme, 'Techno'.
  • Bronwen Bird
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Acoustic
    Bronwen has been able to combine her love of music and her understanding of the fundamentals of acoustics to form the basis of her successful career, working with the Welsh National Opera Company and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, amongst others.
  • Cynthia Breazeal
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Computer engineering
    Cynthia BreazealPioneer of Social Robotics and Human Robot Interaction
  • Susan Broadaway
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Susan is a past President of IHIE and Business Development Manager for Roads and Major Projects Highways at Mouchel in St Asaph.
  • Dr Sarah Buck
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Sarah was the first pupil to study engineering from Stafford Girls High School.
  • Tanya Budd
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Mechanical
    Tanya Budd from Berkshire, designed and invented Hypo Hoist at the age of just 17 as one of her A level projects. It is now in commercial production and the product is available from I.O.W. based marine safety equipment specialist SeaSafe Systems Ltd.
  • Ann Budge
    Career stage: Retired
    Sector: IT
    Ann Budge is the Founder and Chief Executive of one of Britain’s fastest growing IT companies, Sopra Group.
  • Carol Burke
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Systems
    Carol Burke is the managing director of Unipart Eberspacher Exhaust Systems and has been recognised as a trailblazer and pioneer at the CBI’s Real Business First Women Awards.
  • Claire Carr
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Civil
    Listed in the 'Top 35 Managers under 35' by The Times newspaper, Claire is currently the Project Delivery Manager for the Farringdon Station Redevelopment.
  • Melissa Clare
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Offshore/Marine
    Melissa Clare has recently is one of the The Times top 35 women in the UK under the age of 35. An engineering graduate from RGU, she became the first women to take charge of a North Sea oil rig at the age of 30. She is currently in charge of Global SantaFe’s Galaxy 3 rig, one of the largest jack-up rigs in the fleet.
  • Pip Clark
    Career stage: Student
    Sector: Physics
    Pip won the Young Engineer for Britain award in 2009 for inventing a tool that helps trumpet players to learn to play scales.
  • Dr Carolin Crawford
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Astronomy/Astrophysics
    Carolin is responsible for communicating the excitement of astronomy and new research in the field to the public. She does much to promote the work of women in science, engineering and technology.
  • Emily Cummins
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Inventor
    When Emily was four, her Grandad gave her a hammer and taught her how to make toys from scraps of materials found in his garden shed. She loved the fact that they could make something out of random bits, and her interest in sustainable design was born.
  • Dr Shirley Davey
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Chemical
    She has over 8 years experience working in the Advanced Materials sector with both clinicians and industrialists. Her previous positions have involved carrying out research projects with global companies, government agencies and local hospitals in the fields of biomaterials, nanotechnology and medical devices.
  • Professor Christine Davies OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Professor Christine Davies is a world-class theoretical particle physicist from the University of Glasgow. She used her Royal Society Award to raise the profile of internationally renowned female particle physicists by arranging three lecture tours around the UK.
  • Katy Deacon
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Energy
    Katy works for Kirklees Metropolitan Council. She has been a figurehead in the implementation of renewable energy systems in West Yorkshire and has won several awards. In 2011, she was one of only 20 in the UK chosen to promote women's prospects in industry.
  • Leanne Deeming
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Manufacturing
    Lianne says the public perceive her field to be male-orientated, unsafe, dirty and dusty. What she’d like them to realise is that there are many opportunities for women and to associate it with such words as creative, innovative and exciting – that's how she has found it.
  • Miss Alice Delahunty
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Energy
  • Professor Dame Athene Donald DBE, FRS
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Prof. Dame Athene Margaret Donald, DBE, FRS is a distinguished British physicist. She is Professor of Experimental Physics in the University of Cambridge's Department of Physics, and a member of the University Council. She currently chairs the Royal Society's Education Committee and sits on their Council.
  • Professor Dame Ann Patricia Dowling DBE FREng FRS
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Mechanical
    Professor Dame Ann Patricia Dowling is a British mechanical engineer who specialises in combustion, acoustics and vibration. She is currently Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where she was the first female professor in 1993.
  • Elspeth Duxbury
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Systems
    Elspeth Duxbury, 32, is the youngest director at Atkins, one of the world’s leading engineering and design consultancies.
  • Professor Helen Fielding
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Physics
    Professor Helen Fielding, Professor of Chemical Physics at University College London, is recognised for her unique work on the coherent control of electronic and molecular dynamics using ultra-fast lasers.
  • Dawn Fitt
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Electrical/Electronic
    Dawn was the WES President from 2005 - 2006
  • Lynne Frostick
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Environmental
    Lynne Frostick, Professor of Geography at the University of Hull known as ‘Hull’s environmental superwoman’.
  • Professor Gillian Gehring OBE
    Career stage: Retired
    Sector: Physics
    Gillian Gehring is distinguished as an international research leader in magnetism. She is unusual in having made important contributions to both theoretical and experimental physics.
  • Rebecca George OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: IT
    Rebecca leads Deloitte’s Public Sector Health practice in the UK. She is responsible for all the work Deloitte does with the Department of Health and its ALBs, Health Regulators, and the NHS.
  • Professor Helen Gleeson FInstP, OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Helen is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and has recently held posts including Chairman of the British Liquid Crystal Soceity and Editor of Liquid Crystals Today.
  • Anne Glover CBE FREng
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Materials
    Anne achieved her BSc & MA in metallurgy and materials science from Clare College, Cambridge and is now Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners Ltd.
  • Dr Lucie Green
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Astronomy/Astrophysics
    Space scientist Dr Lucie Green from University College London (UCL) is the recipient of the 2009 Royal Society Kohn Award for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science.
  • Professor Jane Grimson
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Computer engineering
    Jane was the first female graduate in Engineering from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin, in 1970. She has contributed a great deal to making science and engineering attractive to women as a profession.
  • Judith Hackitt CBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Chemical
    Judith Hackitt is the Chair of the Health and Safety executive. She is a strong advocate for using common sense in the Health and Safety arena.
  • Professor Sarah Hainsworth
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Forensics
    Dr Sarah Hainsworth works with industry in forensic engineering, and is considered the UK expert on characterisation of pointed weapons.
  • Kate Hall FICE; FCIHT
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Civil
    Kate Hall was named one of Management Today's '35 under 35' in 2007 and is currently a Director and Global Infrastructure Board Member at Arup. She also lead the 400 strong Arup team designing Olympic Park and Site Wide Infrastructure.
  • Professor Dame Wendy Hall CBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: IT
    Wendy Hall is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and currently Head of the world-renowned School of Electronics and Computer Science.
  • Dr Jane Haswell
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Mechanical
    Jane works with two colleagues in a small specialist pipeline engineering consultancy which is involved in a range of pipeline integrity and safety management work.
  • Professor Dame Julia Stretton Higgins DBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Chemical
    In March 2010, the UKRC announced Professor Higgins as one of six Women of Outstanding Achievement in Science, Engineering and Technology.
  • Dr Jane Hillston
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Computer engineering
    Dr Jane Hillston was awarded the British Computer Society Roger Needham Award in 2004 for her work on the Stochastic Process Algebra, PEPA (Performance Evaluation Process Algebra)
  • Verena Holmes
    Career stage: Legend
    Sector: Mechanical
    Verena Holmes (1889 - 1964) was the first female elected to the IMechE (1924). She invented the paper guillotine and WES continues to support Verena Holmes' lectures in association with industry.
  • Grace Hopper
    Career stage: Legend
    Sector: IT
    Grace Hopper (1906 -1992) developed the first compiler for computer programming and programming languages leading to COBOL.
  • Beth Hutchinson
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Software
    Beth says that her two degrees (PhD and BSc) in Physics, demonstrate her ability to think logically and pass exams, but have never contributed directly to her IT ability!
  • Dr Dame Sue Ion DBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Metallurgy
    Dame Sue Ion is a non-Executive Director on the Board of the Laboratory of the UK Health and Safety Executive and sits on the Scientific Advisory Group of the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
  • Barbara Jones
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Barbara is the founder of innovative strawbale and natural building company ‘amazonails’. She now works as part of a company called Straw Works – a new design, build and training company that does pretty much everything to do with strawbale building.
  • Professor Dame Carole Jordan DBE
    Career stage: Retired
    Sector: Astronomy/Astrophysics
    Professor Dame Carole Jordan was the first ever female president of the Royal Astronomical Society. She was also only the third female recipient of its Gold Medal (in 2005, following Caroline Herschel in 1828 and Vera Rubin in 1996)
  • Joanna Kennedy OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Joanna is a Director of Ove Arup and Partners, one of the UK’s largest firms of consulting engineers with 40 offices in 20 countries. They have a reputation across the globe for dramatic and adventurous engineering projects such as the Sydney Opera House, the Channel Tunnel and Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North.
  • Professor Dame Julia Elizabeth King DBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Throughout her career Julia has held a number of senior public appointments and has continued to support universities and voluntary bodies in various roles.
  • Louise Kingham OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Energy
    In 2011, Louise was awarded an OBE for services to the energy industry. The award is fitting recognition for her contribution to the industry, working tirelessly to promote good practice and professionalism within the energy industry for the public good.
  • Dr Barbara Lane
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Civil
    Dr Lane, an Associate Director with engineering consultancy Arup, has won a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for her outstanding personal contribution with a commercial benefit to British engineering.
  • Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Vanessa Lawrence has been Chief Executive and Director General of Ordnance Survey since 2000, following an earlier successful international career in the information and software industries.
  • Dr Pamela Liversidge OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Mechanical
    Pamela Liversidge, OBE, was the first female president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
  • Ada Lovelace
    Career stage: Legend
    Sector: Software
    Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852) is considered to the the world's first computer programmer. Ada Lovelace Day is held once a year to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM.
  • Ailie MacAdam
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Ailie MacAdam has been a Bechtel employee for 25 years. She is currently Project Director of the central section of the Crossrail Project, the new railway line going through the heart of London and Europe's largest engineering project and is also a senior vice president at Bechtel.
  • Professor Averil MacDonald
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Averil is Professor of Science Engagement at the University of Reading
  • Elsie MacGill
    Career stage: Legend
    Sector: Aeronautical
    Elsie MacGill (1905 -1980) was the world's first female aircraft designer and a women's rights activist
  • Dr Kerry Mashford
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Manufacturing
    Kerry is lead technologist at the Technology Strategy Board. She joined ARUP in 2006 as Head of Sustainable Manufacturing & Construction with projects across the world on products, processes, policy and on economic development based on sustainable technologies.
  • Siobhán Matthews
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Materials
    Siobhán is currently Technical Director of SCF Processing Ltd, Ireland.
  • Michelle McDowell MBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Michelle is Director of Civil and Structural Engineering, Building Design Partnership and is former vice-president of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
  • Dr Rachel McKendry
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Nano-technology
    Rachel McKendry is internationally recognized for her application of the tools of nanotechnology to quantitatively measure biomolecular recognition forces, which are central to virtually every process in the living cell.
  • Dervilla Mitchell
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Dervilla Mitchell is a Trustee and board member of Arup and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers and Engineers Ireland. As the firm’s most senior female engineer, Dervilla led the Arup team at T5 Heathrow, the largest construction project in Europe at the time.
  • Dr Caroline Mohamed
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Chemical
    With two patents in her name, Caroline has achieved a great deal and succeeded in a very male-dominated industry. She has played a significant role in the development of novel technologies for a variety of products within the Rolls-Royce portfolio.
  • Professor Jenny Nelson
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Professor Nelson is Professor of Physics at Imperial College London and won the IoP Joule Medal and Prize in 2009 for her penetrating theoretical analyses of a range of photovoltaic materials and devices which have had a profound influence on solar cell design.
  • Sharon Odetunde
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Mechanical
    Sharon’s engineering career began when she joined Tube Lines in 2006 on an engineering graduate scheme. She spent two years moving around the company trying engineering roles, such as station design, rolling stock maintenance and lift and escalator design.
  • Baroness Beryl Catherine Platt of Writtle CBE DL Eur Ing FREng
    Career stage: Retired
    Sector: Acoustic
    Baroness Beryl Platt is a distinguished engineer in the aviation industry. She was appointed to the House of Lords in 1981, has chaired the Equal Opportunities Commission and was encouraged by the EOC and Engineering Council to set up WISE.
  • Professor Isobel Pollock
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Mechanical
    127th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (only the 2nd female president) and MX2012 assessor
  • Clare Porter
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Manufacturing
    Clare Porter’s career has taken her from engineering to manufacturing, to operations, to marketing, and now, as SunGard‘s Senior Vice President of Technology Solutions, she is enjoying her role as a change agent at a $5 billion technology company.
  • Sandi Rhys Jones OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Sandi Rhys Jones has more than thirty years experience in strategic marketing and management, communications and training for technical, professional and business to business organisations in the engineering and construction sectors.
  • Dr Sally Ride
    Career stage: Legend
    Sector: Physics
    Sally Ride (1951 - 2012) was the first American woman in space and has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
  • Professor Carol Vivien Robinson
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Chemical
    Carol Robinson is a Royal Society Research Professor & Dr Lee's Professor of Chemistry
  • Ginni Rometty
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Computer engineering
    Ginni Rometty is the chair and CEO of IBM
  • Wendy Sadler
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Wendy is the Director of Science Made Simple.
  • Dr Silvia Schievano
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Biomedical
    Dr Schievano is the RAEng/EPSRC Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
  • Dame Stephanie Shirley DBE
    Career stage: Retired
    Sector: Software
    Dame Stephanie "Steve" Shirley, DBE, FREng, FRSA, FBCS (born 1933 in Dortmund, Germany) is a British businesswoman and philanthropist. She originally arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied Kindertransport child refugee.
  • Charlotte Simmonds
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Environmental
    Charlotte, a chartered environmentalist, has been with Tube Lines since 2004, when she was appointed its first corporate environmental adviser. She became Tube Lines’ environment manager in 2006.
  • Doreen Stoneham
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Doreen founded Oxford Authentication Ltd, which leads the world in authenticating ceramic antiquities. Its certificates are accepted by all leading auction houses, museums, collectors and art dealers.
  • Professor Kathy Sykes
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Kathy is Professor of Sciences and Society at Bristol University.
  • Hannah Sykulska
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Astronomy/Astrophysics
    Hanna was the winner of the IET Young Woman Engineer of the year 2008
  • Bijal Thakore
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Aeronautical
    Bijal is Client Development Officer at LEGO
  • Charlotte Tingley
    Career stage: Early career
    Sector: Aerospace
    Charlotte Tingley, a BAe Systems Euro Fighter Typhoon Aircraft engineer, won the WES prize at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards, 2012.
  • Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Chemical
    Ijeoma is Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanoscience, School of Pharmacy at the University of London. She was awarded the Woman of Outstanding Achievement award in Science Engineering and Technology in 2007 by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
  • Dr Jean Venables OBE
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Jean has been closely involved in Flood Risk Management matters for many years and her service as Chairman of the Thames Region Flood Defence Committee was recognised by the award of the OBE in the 2004 New Year's Honours.
  • Jane Wernick FREng
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Civil
    Jane is Director of Jane Wernick Associates Ltd.
  • Dr Sophie Williams
    Career stage: Mid career
    Sector: Biomedical
    Senior Lecturer at Leeds Musculoskeletal biomedical research unit
  • Professor Ann Wintle
    Career stage: Retired
    Sector: Geography/Earth sciences
    Ann is Professor at Aberystwyth University Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences.
  • Professor Julie Yeomans
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Materials
    Professor Yeomans is Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences, Professor of Ceramic Materials and Director of the Industrial Doctorate Centre in Micro and NanoMaterials & Technologies, University of Surrey.
  • Professor Julia Yeomans
    Career stage: Experienced
    Sector: Physics
    Professor Julia Yeomans is a Professor of Physics at Oxford University and sits on the Advisory Panel of the Institute of Physics Women in Physics Group.

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