Women urged to consider a career in engineering

Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women's Employment, with Nicki Small (left) and Claire McKeown. (Photograph by Stuart Nicol Photography)
Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women's Employment, with Nicki Small (left) and Claire McKeown. (Photograph by Stuart Nicol Photography)

Scotland’s minister for youth and women’s employment is backing an energy firm’s efforts to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering.

Annabelle Ewing visited SSE’s Gordonbush wind farm and met Nicki Small, development project manager for SSE Renewables, and Claire McKeown, noise manager, who shared their experiences of working in the energy sector and the opportunities for women in what has traditionally been a male dominated industry.

Nicki told Ms Ewing that she had joined the company in 1996 and her career has been focussed on developing SSE’s renewable energy portfolio.

Nicki joined SSE in 1996 after completing an honours degree in environmental technology. Her career with SSE has included renewable energy price forecasting, wind resource monitoring, business development, project management and, more recently, environmental engineering.

Having been appointed a development project manager in onshore wind development in January 2012, Nicki is responsible for gaining planning consent for a number of SSE’s onshore wind farms.

She said: “It was a pleasure to welcome to the minister to Gordonbush wind farm, guide her around the site and explain my role at SSE.

“I have had a diverse and varied career with SSE and I would encourage more women to consider a career in the energy industry – particularly on our apprenticeship and training programmes.”

Claire has worked with SSE since 2008 and is currently a noise manager within SSE’s wholesale division. She helps develop every phase of a wind farm’s life – from development through to construction and operation.

John Stewart, SSE’s director of HR, said SSE has made a commitment to increasing diversity in the energy industry.

He added: “We’re always looking to attract more female engineers and apprentices so we are delighted to have 10 joining our ranks this year, which is a step in the right direction. We know we have a lot more work to do, but the building blocks are now in place.

“Let’s be totally clear about this – there is no way that anyone out there should think for a moment that engineering is a male orientated career. If that was ever once true, it couldn’t be further from the truth today, but we recognise we have to keep working hard to redress the gender balance.”

Ms Ewing said: “The careers available in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are many and varied, providing incredible opportunities in Scotland and around the world. They are a vital industry stream and underpin our economy which is why it is so important for government and employers to showcase them to young people.

“The spotlight that SSE is shining on this field is a wonderful way of encouraging more women into the field and to celebrate role models like Nicki and Claire.

“It’s also a great opportunity to hear about the different ways into science and engineering roles and the promotion and progression they offer.”