Our engineering journeys - International Women in Engineering Day 2021

We are supporting International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on Wednesday, 23 June 2021. INWED is celebrating its eighth year in 2021. INWED is an international awareness campaign that raises women's profiles in engineering and focuses attention on the fantastic career opportunities available to women and girls in this exciting industry. It is organized by the Women in Engineering Society – a UK trade association.

Colleagues from Atmos share their views on the role, opportunities and challenges of women in engineering. They include:

  • Carin Meyer (CM), Regulation Compliance Manager
  • Kirsty McNeil (KM), Senior Project Engineer
  • Allison Mendoza (AMe), Engineer
  • Angela Maya (AMa), Sales and Support Engineer
  • Oonagh McCartan (OM), Sales Support Engineer
  • Stephen Hall (SH), Operations Manager
  • Damien Ravel (DR), Chief Operations Officer

Allison Mendoza, Mechatronics Engineer for Atmos International in Costa RicaWhat made you want to become an engineer?

Carin Meyer (CM): I started as an accountant for the first half of my career. I am an engineer by trade. I landed a job as a SCADA engineer and learned on the job. I am a numbers person, so transforming my accounting thinking to engineering was an easy transition.

Kirsty McNeil (KM): To be honest, I hadn't considered a career in engineering until I was in college and applying to universities. I had initially planned on doing a law degree until I started AS levels, at which point I realized I preferred math and science. I came across chemical engineering when researching what degrees could utilize my maths and science A levels. The more I studied chemical engineering, the more interesting I found it, so I chose it for my degree.

Angela Maya (AMa): When I decided to become an engineer, I didn't know what it meant, but I knew I was passionate about technology. As a child, it was the time of the first computers, the first robots, the beginning of microelectronics. I was lucky to have a computer at home and I loved to solve problems using it and disassemble the hardware to solve issues. I also learned about materials, energy and creating "toys" using electronic components.

Oonagh McCartan (OM): I was planning to study math and physics, but our math teacher encouraged us to consider more vocational courses when picking our degrees as she thought they set you up for your career better. So, I looked into accountancy, actuary and engineering. Finally, I chose engineering as it sounded the most varied and interesting to me.

Allison Mendoza (AMe): As a child, I was always eager to know more about how the world worked. I have always had an affinity for science and math since I was little. I was always wondering: ‘How do the airplanes work?', 'How can cars be created?', 'What is the secret behind all of this?'

I slowly started investigating through books my grandpa bought for me, then I heard the word engineer and then what engineers do and it made such an impact on me. So, I thought it would be a lot of fun to be an engineer since it is a field that can positively impact the world and affect everyone's life. Also, as an engineer, you get to learn something new every day - it sounded exciting.

I would say my life-changing moment was when I started reading about the role of women in the history of engineering. Women have historically been underrepresented in the engineering field. I felt through the stories of such women it was a call. Since then, I've aspired to become the type of person that no matter where I am or where I go, I'll always add value to the spaces and lives of people around me and more. Therefore, inspired by the stories I read about while growing up, the things I want for my life and the world, I decided engineering is my career.

Stephen Hall (SH): As a child, I enjoyed fixing things and solving problems with technology. I soon realized that an enjoyable career could be made by finding and using innovations to improve people's lives.

Did you have any engineering heroes growing up?

Carin Meyer, Regulation Compliance Specialist for Atmos International North AmericaCM: My dad started in the US Navy as an electronics technician and retired as a Command Master Chief after 22 years. When I was young, he showed me ham (amateur) radio and how to repair televisions. His career after the Navy was working in communications and fiber optics. Now with my work, we brainstorm and have geeky chats about engineering.

AMe: Yes, Hedy Lamarr, Edith Clarke, Thelma Estrin.

AMa: My dad and my chemistry teacher

OM: Growing up, no. Now I do – Alan Turing and Katherine Johnson

SH: I do not recall any specific engineering heroes while growing up, but I did have two favorite places for viewing and once using engineering achievements and technology. These places were the Science Museum(s) in Manchester through the years and the National Computing Centre, where I ran my first computer program from punch cards during a school trip.

What would you say to a young girl considering a career in engineering?

CM: Learn and listen. Education is great, but hands-on experience is where you will learn to put your education into action. Once you start working, listen to the seasoned experts and don't be afraid to ask questions.

AMa: Women have some great ideas and sometimes different ways to solve things. Those perspectives help to find an alternative solution. All women, like all humans, can be experts in solving problems of various kinds, so do not hesitate to use it to solve technical things. Do not give up!

SH: Do not let stereotypes stop you from doing something that you enjoy.

KM: Go for it. The field is extremely varied and opens you up to so much opportunity. It can be very challenging at times. However, don't be afraid to keep pushing yourself and step out of your comfort zone.

AME: You're not going to be alone. More female engineers will be waiting for you to join us. The power to change the world and society can remain within us while pursuing our dreams, believe in ourselves and let's build a better future together. Let's engineer a better society and a better world!

OM: I would say to anyone considering a career in engineering to go for it. It's a great profession with such varied opportunities and can take you to all sorts of places. I would advise them to try and get practical experience if they can before they go to university or during their degree course as experience is really where the learning is.

I would also say don't be afraid to ask questions. It can be intimidating at times, especially if you're the only woman in the room. But often, when you ask the question, most people say they were wondering the same thing. And sometimes, asking questions is what triggers new ideas and thinking about a problem.

How can society help more women in engineering?

CM: Women are entering into engineering at a high rate and society is more accepting of women, so embrace that. There are many empowering groups and blogs and I encourage women to participate in the group that best suits them and find a mentor.

AMa: Break prejudices and avoid thinking that social norms are different for women and men. Science and technology are for everyone.

OM: We need to facilitate for women. Toilets and PPE are the most common challenge we face. When I went to university, the engineering block had ladies' toilets on three out of ten floors. Unfortunately, more often than not, when you go to the site, there will be no ladies toilets.

PPE tends to consider men rather than women. So often, we end up on-site wearing oversized clothing.

Engineering companies also need to consider the maternity packages they offer. They often overlook it because it affects such a minority of staff. Other industries where women are better represented tend to offer more attractive packages. It can be an easy win for an employer and a good way to attract talent.

SH: Society as a whole can ensure that the same opportunities are made available to all.


  • Change everyone's perspective, discarding the idea that women are only suited to some careers and understand that there is no such thing as careers for women only and men only
  • Creating safer working environments
  • Creating an environment of equity through gender equity workshops in workplaces, schools, universities
  • Listen to women in engineering when they raise their voice on a topic
  • More visibility of women in these fields through science books, history books, talks and seminars.
  • Hold more workshops for STEM areas and a 50-50 gender quota where girls can work within a safe environment.

KM: I feel like women need to be encouraged at a younger age. Often when women are specifically encouraged, it isn't until they are towards the end of high school. From my own experience, I hadn't been aware of engineering until I was applying to university. By this age, most women have an idea of what they want to do and aren't aware that engineering is an option.

What three things will you do to encourage more women to work in engineering?

KM: To encourage women to work in engineering, I can share my own positive experience.


  • Continue raising my voice, making women more visible, talking about issues, and solving them together
  • Participate in giving workshops about the importance of women in engineering
  • Continue sharing positive and realistic experiences of becoming the best engineers we can


  • I would encourage women that are strong and enjoy Math to pursue engineering
  • Have fun with every challenge: I see them as puzzles and putting together all the pieces
  • Don't be afraid to succeed


  • Keep loving what you do
  • Avoid prejudice
  • Value everyone equally, women and men, no matter what they choose to be

OM: Well, taking part in this blog is one!

We need to present it as an option to young girls much earlier in their education. When I spend time with my nieces and nephew and friends' kids, I often ask them what they want to do when they grow up and talk to them about engineering. My niece has the "Rosie Revere, Engineer" book and dressed up as an engineer for world book day. It was a very proud moment for me.

I'm also available to any of the women coming up that need advice or help in their career. Being a woman in engineering is not without challenges, but the rewards are greater and worth it.


  • Ensure a common career progression
  • Ensure common pay scale
  • I will continue to encourage those within the business into technical and mentoring roles. I will also ensure I encourage all in life, such as my daughter, who has an interest in civil engineering


  • Always interview different profiles for a position (diverse backgrounds, race, gender. etc.)
  • Support and share success stories about women in engineering (this web series from my engineering school in France is a great example)
  • Encourage girls and women to take that road and make them enthusiastic about it. As I repeat to my daughter every day, engineering is not only for men and boys.

By: Will Stone
Date: 23 June 2021