International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women in Engineering

Since the early 1900s International Women’s Day (IWD) has been recognised as a worldwide event, celebrating women’s achievements and calling for gender equality. This year marks 100 years since (some) women were given the right to vote in the UK and women’s rights remains a relevant issue throughout business, politics and societal life.

Women are hugely under represented within the STEM industries, with 2017 surveys indicating that only 11% of the engineering workforce is female(1) and the UK holds the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10%(2). However on a more positive note, there is now very little gender difference in take up of and achievement in core STEM GCSE subjects(3), with The National Centre for Universities and Business meeting one of their targets in 2017: 50% of Physics GCSE students were girls(4).

IWD 2018 coincides with the Year of Engineering, a Government campaign launched in January which aims to inspire the next generation of engineers, because not enough young people – especially girls – believe it is a world for them. As a result the industry is struggling to recruit future talent, with 64% of engineering employers saying a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business(5).

The attitudes and perceptions that young girls see engineering as a career for ‘brainy boys’ have been formed over a long period of time with teachers, careers advisers and even families not doing enough to counter this view.

Getting more young girls interested in engineering roles is a key feature of the Year of Engineering, making it an attractive option for girls from an early age(6). As an official partner of the Year of Engineering and as part of IWD 2018, Bureau Veritas showcases some of its top female employees working within STEM roles.

Name: Rachel Rawlings

Job Title: Accreditation Manager (UK)

The core responsibility of my role is to ensure that that as a business, our Licenses to Operate (LTO) are protected at all times, by working closely with the Technical Managers and Quality Control Co-ordinators, as well as the wider operations team.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry is something that I have always been passionate about, as it is so crucial to our future. I have focused on supporting the Women in Engineering campaign and I recently went to Glyndwr University for the Women in Engineering Day, where I spoke about my journey through engineering.

Name: Gail Bould

Job Title: Business Unit Manager PCA / ETS

Starting in asbestos where I managed contracts for the Northern region in the UK, I have since moved on to become a business unit manager for engineering technical services and product conformity assessments. As a day to day job I manage a team of over 15 engineering professionals in our technical centre, I develop and manage business expectations, ensure that the business delivers work to a high standard and work with colleagues to develop new opportunities.

Bureau Veritas has opened up a multitude of opportunities for me and without the support, training and opportunity to explore experiences offered; I would not have progressed as positively.

Name: Karolina Lachi-Kolarova

Job Title: Key Account Manager, Power and Utilities sector

On a day to day basis, my responsibilities include being a key interface between the client and Bureau Veritas and I’m also a project manager, providing a holistic viewpoint to my clients business. My network is not limited to the United Kingdom; I get the chance to speak to a number of contacts in a range of different countries thanks to the global contracts and projects Bureau Veritas are involved with.

Outside of work, I am studying for an MBA in international leadership. I must admit I’m a workaholic; I thrive off reaching my absolute potential and pushing my boundaries.

Name: Stacey Desborough

Job Title: Engineer Surveyor – Crane Discipline

I work within the Engineering Technical Services (ETS) Team, as an engineer surveyor in the crane discipline. As a surveyor I have what we call ‘authorities’ to inspect various pieces of lifting equipment, I mainly work with scissor and articulated mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs). My role is very customer focused as I work within the dedicated Mobile Plant Team delivering on-hire inspections.

I have my own ideas about where I would like to be in the company and I am lucky enough that my current position is directly linked to where I wish to be in five years’ time. It is important to me to keep moving forward and being in a company like Bureau Veritas where you are encouraged and supported to get to where you want to be is fantastic.

Name: Julie-Anna Smith

Job Title: Head of Technical Centre UK

I lead the strategic direction, performance and growth of our science and engineering consulting service division, the Technical Centre in the UK. The Technical Centre is a cluster of specialist engineers, mathematicians, and scientists who excel at solving problems and creating innovative solutions to support our customers manage risk. We are helping our customers to improve the quality, health, safety and social responsibility of their operations whilst safeguarding the environment.

I have studied, and worked with talented men and women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry and believe that we need to continue to encourage people into our sector and give them the confidence to be authentic and true to themselves.

Bureau Veritas is one of those rare organisations that provides a variety in customers to work with, the ability to apply your STEM theory across different sectors, access to expert peers to learn from and a working environment in which diversity is embraced which helps each employee fulfil his or her potential.


1) Women in STEM workforce, WISE Campaign, 2017 , accessed February 2018

2) Quote from Vince Cable says UK economy hampered by lack of female engineers, The Guardian, 4 Nov 2013, , accessed February 2018

3) Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the seven largest awarding bodies in the UK, from their online sites,

4) Women’s Engineering Society, Useful Statistcs, 2018, , accessed February 2018

5) Engineering for a successful nation, RAEng and EPSRC, March 2015

6) Women In Engineering Fixing The Talent Pipeline, Institute for Public Policy Research, September 2014, accessed February 2018