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UCL supports 'Your Life' Campaign


UCL supports ‘Your Life’ Campaign for greater numbers of women in engineering by offering free Masters degrees

12 May 2014

Free Masters degrees to attract more women into engineering plus childcare and mentoring provided. Jane Butler, new Vice Dean for Engineering at UCL believes engineering opens the door to a fantastic career for women.

University College London (UCL), one of the world’s top universities, and a WISE Membership is joining with government and other educational and industry partners to commit to the Government led Women into Technology and Engineering Call to Action. The Your Life campaign, launched by Chancellor George Osborne at the Science Museum on May 7 aims to contribute to the Government’s aspiration to double the number of female engineering and technology undergraduates by 2030. 170 organisations, including universities, museums, FE colleges, schools and grass roots science and technology promotion organisations have committed to these national aspirations. The pledge aims to support a change in how women and girls are encouraged to consider technology and engineering careers and the subject choices or vocational pathways that lead to them.

Results from the 2013 IET Skills Survey show that only 7% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female, lower than any other country in Europe. The UK still continues to experience persistent difficulty in encouraging and retaining women in engineering and technology roles. UCL have £500,000 of bursaries, covering the full tuition fee cost and including £10,000 maintenance funding available for students from under-represented backgrounds to undertake postgraduate study at UCL Engineering.

The scheme supports traditionally under-represented groups, such as care-givers, those with children, and, in the case of engineering, women, to engage in graduate study at UCL. This continues UCL’s history of, and commitment to, making education available to all. UCL was founded in 1826 to open up education in England for the first time to students of any race, class or religion. It was also the first university to welcome female students on equal terms with men.

The full time Masters bursaries are offered as part of the UCL Graduate Support Bursary scheme, a section of UCL’s wider initiative to support graduate Master’s students and funded through the HEFCE Postgraduate Support Scheme.

A wide range of engineering courses are available as part of the scheme including biochemical engineering, computer graphics, internet engineering, telecommunication with business and nanotechnology. UCL is at the forefront of recognising, supporting and rewarding women in the engineering and technology sector as well as actively encouraging women to enter the profession.

As well as financial support, postgraduate students can also access mentoring from academia and industry, skills development, and all the resources of UCL’s Graduate School. Childcare support is also available. This scheme is open to prospective students domiciled in the UK who have “Home” tuition fee status. UCL’s graduate support pages provide more information on eligibility and application:bit.ly/UCLGradSupport. The closing date for applications to the scheme is the 30th of June, and students must have applied for their chosen Master’s programme by that date.

Mrs Jane Butler, Vice Dean (Enterprise), UCL Engineering said "The Graduate Support Scheme actively aims to support female graduates to attain their full potential in the engineering profession. We want to encourage many more women to apply as they are currently vastly under-represented in engineering. The Scheme is ideal for women returning to work or changing career. It offers mentoring by researchers and senior managers from technology companies to provide a fantastic boost to what can be a wonderful career for a woman to pursue.”

CASE STUDY: Dr Jane Butler, Vice Dean (Enterprise), UCL Engineering (pictured above)

“From a young age I always enjoyed making all sort of things and seeing things work. I spent my teenage years designing and building things with wood, fabrics, metal and in particular building miniature things and to this day still do miniature modelling. So it was a natural step to do what I enjoyed as a career in some way. However I was at school at a time when girls went to secretarial college or studied home economics or occasionally went to medical school if they were very brainy! So my headmistress was giving me all sorts of warnings about what I wanted to do, but luckily my parents were supportive and helped me navigate my way through to an engineering degree. And subsequently my husband was on my side too! Once I graduated I loved every job I did as it didn’t really seem to be work, just an enjoyable way to spend my days. I never had to formally interview for a job; always moving by invitation to a new role either with the same company or a new one. My university put me on the right track at the start as I did what was called a thick sandwich course and spent a year with Philips after which they sponsored me for my final year and then employed me. The year in industry was a true apprenticeship where I learned every aspect of how a company is run - working on the shop floor doing toolmaking as well as in the accounts department and head office sales and marketing and in between in a lab doing PCB design and programming.

Throughout my career I have always found interesting jobs which are always well paid and it was easy to combine a career in engineering with a family. I think having females in engineering helps balance the workplace and brings a different and welcome perspective. I have noticed some aspects of discrimination along the way but have just worked my way around it in a non-confrontational way. I drifted into the world of the Internet early on and have enjoyed being a part of its growth globally over many years. My final most senior role spent in Silicon Valley allowed me to truly say I did have impact on how the Internet looks today but that was not just me but everyone around me. I now have contacts around the world who have been part of that journey and I think we all collectively feel that we want to help the younger engineers to enjoy the experiences we had which is why when I moved out of the commercial world I joined UCL.

My children are now grown up and independent and haven’t followed me into engineering but then most children do everything they can not to follow their parents! They are both however very successful in their own careers and have only ever liked the fact that I worked though out their young lives - perhaps they had more freedom as I wasn’t at home keeping tabs on them so much! They also have said they enjoyed seeing their Mum (and Dad) having fulfilling lives. We did always put in place a good support structure so we tried to keep the pressures as controllable as we could but there were times when it was very tough to balance everything. I suppose the only thing I have been really bad at is negotiating for myself, luckily it hasn’t caused me to lose out too much but it could have done. Now my focus is two-fold - seeing young students (male and female) at UCL blossom into confident and capable engineers and helping them to have access to industry, and secondly continuing to run a Foundation that stimulates the growth of Internet access in parts of the world where there is educational, social or economic benefit in Africa, Asia and South America.”

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