How We Celebrated INWED 2021
On 23 June, the Mercedes F1 Team celebrated the eighth International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) and our fourth year as an official sponsor of the event.
Organised by the Women's Engineering Society, INWED is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available.
As part of our programme of events, we were delighted to be able to bring together a panel of four distinguished guests through an online webinar for the team’s employees.
The panellists were Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon (Co-founder & CEO, Stemettes), Dr Vanessa Ogden (CEO, Mulberry Schools Trust & Headteacher Mulberry School for Girls), Miss Catherine Rennie (Consultant Surgeon, Imperial College NHS Trust) and Susie Wolff (Team Principal, ROKiT Venturi Racing).
Hosted by Jane Farrell of the Equality Works Group, the event provided a thought-provoking discussion about building careers in engineering and STEM environments, with the opportunity for our team members to put their questions to the panel.
One of the most interesting topics of discussion was the challenges that each of the guests have encountered during their careers:
"What I find challenging is patients assume that their surgeon will be a male and as a female surgeon I'm often confused for a nurse or allied health professional, these assumptions are a barrier to effective communication. I've found I must go the extra mile to receive the same response as male colleagues at the same level."
"I have felt the pressure to conform and behave in a certain way, but in the end it boils down to your own character traits and who you are as an individual. I often say to young women, don't feel you have to conform to a certain stereotype, be yourself and focus on your talent; in the end, performance is power. Do what you do well, with passion, and the rest will fade away to background noise."
"A challenge I've encountered has been to gain and hold your own space. By being present in the space, people will recognise you as the leader immediately, without needing others to remind them."
"I can't change my womanhood; I can't change my skin tone and I can't change my age. I've had to realise what I contribute is valuable and if someone is going to struggle with that, the onus is on them."
Throughout the panel discussion, questions on a wide range of subjects were asked by our team members and one of the most frequent topics put to the panellists was on inclusive workplaces and what more can be done to create them.
"I've noticed women are reluctant to put themselves forward for roles, despite being ready or readier than their male colleagues. Having an awareness of this reluctance in yourself and your team, is key to female progression. I've been fortunate to have had both male and female colleagues nominate me for opportunities I wouldn't have even considered myself for. Working in a team where both you and your colleagues promote women in leadership roles is a fantastic environment to work in."
"It's about being honest, open to experiencing issues and not feeling that because you're a woman, you shouldn't show weakness in the workplace. Be real with the difficulties you experience and you'll be surprised at how open people are to helping."
"I'd recommend two things; have a good analysis of the workplace culture, statistical analysis of pay gaps and career progression, and then call out exclusion when you see it. Don't let those opportunities pass you by."
"Make sure to credit folk along the way. Listen, learn and share but make sure to credit them."
To end the panel, our guests were asked to share some closing thoughts and words of wisdom, which will no doubt help to inspire both our employees and the next generation of women looking to make their career in engineering:
"Be confident in yourself, communicate effectively and own your space."
"Find your tribe, you don't need to do this alone. Find your network, find your peers, find your group to learn with, to complain with and to grow with."
"You've got be determined and just keep going. You need to do it not just for yourself but for other girls and young women."
"Just put yourself forward and most of all believe in yourself. There will be moments where you doubt yourself but take a deep breath, remember why you're doing it and go for it. Push the door open and run through it, make it happen."
Thank you to all our panellists for taking the time out of their schedules to speak to our team. The discussion was a fantastic opportunity celebrate talented women who are making a difference within the STEM industry and to inspire young women in finding new Engineering Heroes who are sharing their stories with the world.