Embracing inclusion on International Women's Day - why it matters for STEM

Embracing inclusion on International Women's Day - why it matters for STEM

March 2024

The theme 'Let's Inspire Inclusion' this International Women's Day sparked two questions for colleagues at 42T. We asked ourselves what factors have contributed to making us feel included in our career choices and our place of work, and what we actively do to make others feel included.

What do we mean by inclusion?

When we talk about inclusion, what do we actually mean? The IWD organisation says it's about celebrating diversity and empowerment, not just for women but for all aspects of society - for without the crucial role of inclusion, no real gender equality can be achieved.

"It calls for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected. Inspire Inclusion encourages everyone to recognize the unique perspectives and contributions of women from all walks of life, including those from marginalised communities."

International Women's Day 42T group photo

The IWD organisation adds: "When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment."

Katie Doig, Senior Consultant at 42T, says, "The theme seems really relevant. For me, a huge driver for us at 42T is to help other women and girls, and any other groups that perhaps feel historically excluded, to also feel that a future in engineering, science, tech, design, software, could be options for them."

"It's one of the reasons why we put effort into maintaining a relationship with local schools - to inspire the next generation of engineers and stimulate interest in STEM careers for women, and frankly anyone interested in this field. Unless students feel like they belong in this environment and they get to talk to role models, it may be difficult for them to visualise themselves inhabiting this space. That's where I think we have a responsibility."

"With this in mind, it has sparked some of us at 42T to ask questions around what was it that made us feel included as female engineers, and ask what we do, or what can we do, to try to help all STEM candidates and potential engineers, to feel included."

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Inclusivity means STEM can be for everyone

Jake Greer, Senior Consultant, is first to volunteer the following: "Two standout things have made me feel included, the first being that experienced engineers took my comments and opinions seriously and were seen as useful when I was fresh out of school and before I'd had any engineering study behind me. This progressed to when I was a YINI, and then again when I worked in an engineering environment for the first time."

"Another event was that I was fortunate to talk with one of the women on my university aeronautics & astronautics engineering course and found out she'd transferred from doing a fashion design degree. This is also an interest of mine that I had considered pursuing. Her discussion of what that environment had been like for her, and the fact that others with interest areas matching mine that are not always associated with engineering, was a big comfort. To know that this area was a world I both could fit into, and be probably better than some other areas I might try to pursue, was equally useful."

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Sarah Knight agrees: "When I first joined 42T several years ago as a new graduate in my first engineering job, I actually don't remember noticing that I was the only woman in the entire engineering team at all. My impression was that the team all treated me just like anyone else. Also, I'm certain a big part of that was a wonderful role model who had previously worked here as a YINI."

"Another example of that is all the ways the 42T social committee runs a wide variety of different kinds of get-togethers and activities that appeal to everyone to get involved, and in the process, we get to know each other's experience. We have a really diverse mix of cultural backgrounds which makes it really interesting!"

Encouraging inclusion by paying it forward

How can one make a difference for someone else, and how do 42T colleagues go about it in their everyday lives?

For Jake, it's about "showing up unapologetically as myself, including a very feminine presenting appearance. It took a long time to get to that point, but seeing others do this made me more comfortable to show up as 'me' and not some idea I may have had of a corporate engineer that I felt I needed to be, and wasn't completely comfortable with."

"Also, when I run the CAD presentation as part of our induction process, I always make sure to also mention to any new female colleagues where the female friendly facilities are!"

Sarah says, "I find myself constantly pushing myself to reach out for others' input and opinions more, rather than assuming what they might think or that they're not interested - just recently for instance, asking for input on an article that I wrote. It has the added benefit that I get feedback from people I didn't realise had relevant background knowledge and different experiences."

Effective teams are inclusive teams

Sue Smith, Chief Financial Officer, sums up: "At 42T, we recognise these conversations around inclusion are important for women, and all individuals. Valuing our team members is crucial in cultivating strong and successful teams."

"Likewise, fostering inclusivity is vital in our project undertakings, particularly in the innovation and product design phases. By taking into account the requirements of various users and stakeholders, we strive to develop solutions that cater to the diverse needs of all individuals."


"It's an approach that runs right through how we do business, guiding how we approach innovation for our clients and also how we interact with our colleagues. Importantly, hiring people that come from a range of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, is essential to our business."

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