International Women in Engineering Day: “I’ve travelled the world doing what I love, one day I’m on a nuclear power plant, the next I’m offshore on a wind turbine”

Jayne Taylor-Whitticks owns welding inspection company Magna Inspections, based in Driffield, East Yorkshire.

First established 14 years ago in Jayne’s bedroom, Magna Inspections is now a multi-million-pound company, responsible for assessing the quality and strength of welding work on projects across the UK. Jayne’s welding inspectors travel the length of the country to test welds in the nuclear, oil and gas, and structural steel sector.

Magna Inspection’s high-profile clients include the likes of Hinkley Power Station, owned by gas and electricity suppliers EDF, and Paddington Crossrail in London.

To recognise International Women in Engineering Day (Thursday 23 June), previous Women of Achievement Award winner Jayne has revealed all about her experience in the industry – from starting up her own business, to how she gained respect from her peers as a female – in order to inspire more girls to study engineering.

“Whilst I didn’t set out to work as an engineer, I would say I have one of the best jobs in the world – every day is different, and I’ve travelled the world doing what I love,” said Jayne.

“I’m a metallurgist by trade, so my job entails solving problems. For example, if a weld fails, I investigate to see why it’s happened. I work with design and structural engineers to come up with solutions, I look at how we can fix problems and the materials that should be used.

“One of the things that I love the most is that my job is so varied. One day I can be on a structural steel site, the next I can be on a nuclear power plant, or offshore working on wind turbines.

“However, whilst I’ve established myself in the industry, it’s rare that I come across another female welding engineer. I’d say I’m one of the only women in the UK in the field of structural steel – it’s very much a male-dominated sector and there just aren’t enough women that want to come into welding.

“Because of this, when I first started out, I had to prove myself to the men I worked with. I had to give instructions to welders that had been in the industry for over 40 years, and back then there wasn’t any respect for a woman.

“Towards the start of establishing Magna Inspections back in 2012, I was incredibly proud to win the main award at the Women of Achievement Awards. This was a massive confidence boost for me, and gave me the encouragement needed to continue and turn my business into the multi-million-pound company it is today.

“Celebrating women’s achievements in engineering is something that should be encouraged to increase the number of women joining the industry. As well as acknowledging industries that don’t always get the recognition they deserve, it demonstrates what is possible in the field of engineering.

“Now I’m more established I am well-respected, but I do have to prove myself, whereas I think that male engineers don’t have to prove their worth as much.”

Whilst more females are beginning to take up careers in the space, latest figures show that just 16.5% of engineers are women.

Jayne continued: “It is worrying that young women aren’t coming into the industry. The average welding engineer is male, around the age of 57.

“Being an engineer isn’t celebrated enough in the UK, especially being a woman in engineering. In countries like France and Germany, being an engineer is akin to being a doctor. Qualifying to be an engineer, which requires a university degree in the UK, is a huge achievement and should be valued.

“At over half the sites I visit, there still aren’t any women’s toilets or facilities available. For young girls, this isn’t an attractive place to work – it’s still very male-dominated.

“I think a big reason for this is not enough people know what being a welding engineer involves. In fact, not enough people know what being an engineer can involve. Young girls need to realise that it can be a fantastic career. It can take you to places you never imagined.

“There’s definitely more we could be doing education-wise. Schools could promote the different paths available in the field of engineering. We need to promote the possibilities.”

To enter the Women of Achievement Awards, click here.