In this series we will be shining a spotlight on some of the inspiring women who are breaking down barriers, leading by example, and paving the way for the future of women in engineering and manufacturing. There are so many incredible women that are changing the world of manufacturing and engineering, and we wish we could shout about them all - this list rounds up just a few of our top picks of women in the engineering and manufacturing industry.
Did you know that as of March 2022, women only make up 16.5% of the engineering industry - just a 6% rise from 10.5% in 2010 - 12 years ago! The UK also currently has the lowest percentage of females in the engineering industry compared to all other countries. However, the ratio of students in engineering and technology is almost even, and students express similar intent to work in engineering after their studies. Yet, roughly only 47.4% of the women graduates of engineering programmes went on to work in engineering in the industry.
Similarly, the average UK manufacturing company is currently made up of 85% men and 15% women - which is a huge disparity between the genders. And of those women working for large manufacturing companies, they are paid just over 13% less per hour than men in the same industry. According to the data, there is also, on average, a 36% difference in the average bonus payments paid to men and women within UK manufacturing. Many manufacturers reported that women are paid more in bonus payments than men, but eight companies reported a 100% difference in mean bonus pay, meaning that no women in their employment received a bonus in 2020-21.
So, what more can we do to encourage women to go into careers in the engineering industry?
We must challenge the stereotyping and bias that can still pervade the working culture, particularly within the male-dominated engineering and manufacturing sectors. Attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce will maximise innovation, creativity and competitiveness, and pave the way for a brighter future - which is the exact reason why we’ve compiled this list.
This list of women in the engineering and manufacturing industry are true changemakers, breaking boundaries and paving the way for the future of females in this industry - hoping to inspire more females to follow their career dreams.
Annabel Karmel MBE - Founder of AK, Annabel Karmen
With a career spanning over 30 years, London-born mother of three, Annabel Karmel, has pioneered the way families all over the world feed their babies and children. Credited with starting a ‘food revolution’ with her trusty recipes and methods, she has become the UK’s No.1 children’s cookery author, best-selling international author, and the mother of all feeding experts with 47 cookbooks…and counting.
Recognising that there’s not always time to cook, Annabel also supports busy families with her delicious, nutritiously balanced ready-to-go snack and meal range; from Organic Baby Purees to tasty Chilled and Frozen Toddler Meals - which can be found online and in a number of supermarkets. Plus, Annabel’s award-winning Baby & Toddler Feeding app is perfect for meal ideas and planning on the go.
With the sole mission of raising the standards of children’s diets and helping millions of families worldwide, Annabel is a regular media commentator on food-related issues; she regularly undertakes consultancy work for major nursery chains, leisure resorts, restaurants, and hotels worldwide.
In 2006, Annabel received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her outstanding work in the field of child nutrition, and she has since become recognised as one of the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs - she truly has changed the way children are being fed, and has paved the way for a healthier future.
Giovanna Laudisio - CEO of Naturbeads
Naturebeads is a startup addressing microplastic pollution, a global problem affecting life on land, life below water and climate change.
Giovanna received a Degree in Chemistry from the University of Salerno and a PhD in Materials Engineering from Sapienza University of Rome. After two experiences in Academia in Germany and in USA, she worked in DuPont for 7 years. While at DuPont she completed an executive MBA at the University of Bath.
Combining her passion for technology and for the environment, Giovanna decided to take on the startup challenge and co-founded Naturbeads with two professors at the University of Bath who developed a technology to transform cellulose from fibre form to spherical form.
Since its incorporation, Naturbeads has received more than £1.5 million in funding, in form of grants and investments, and has received multiple awards and recognitions, including the Platinum Award at Mass Challenge Switzerland and the Blue Tulip Award in Climate and Energy organized by Accenture. Naturbeads cellulose beads have been successfully tested to replace plastic microbeads in cosmetics, paints and adhesives and are currently being tested for packaging, leather treatment, biocatalysis and even as a substrate for cell culture for applications in biopharmaceutical and cultured meat.
Giovanna’s business is helping to change the way the world works, and is fighting climate change to create a better future for everyone - she is a true inspiration.
Grainne Kelly - CEO & Inventor of Bubblebum
Multi-award-winning entrepreneur, Grainne Kelly is the CEO and inventor of Bubblebum UK Ltd, manufacturer of the world’s first inflatable car booster seat. Founded in December 2009, Bubblebum now exports to 27 countries globally and is stocked by major retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, Halfords, John Lewis and Target.
Mother of two, Grainne Kelly invented Bubblebum to meet a personal need; frequent travel between her native Ireland and England left her transporting bulky fixed booster seats back and forth on the plane because the car rental companies were not providing booster seats for her children. Grainne took her idea from concept to shelf in just 9 months.
Within months of setting up the business, Grainne, her husband and two sons left their home in Northern Ireland to live in the US with the aim of breaking into the US market. Her family immersed themselves in the culture in order to understand the market and get the product ready for certification to US standards testing and certification.
Since setting up the business, her husband has become the COO and her two sons have been involved with the design of all BubbleBum products. She has also gone on to receive a number of awards, including; Woman in Business Award in the Transatlantic Growth Awards, Future 50 Disruptors Award and Belfast Telegraph Business Woman of the Year.
She has taken her business to the next level, with drive, determination and self-belief, and is a great example of what you can do when you have a great idea and put your mind to it.
Hani Baluch - Solutions delivery manager at bp
Hani’s role at bp sees her identifying and delivering new integrated energy solutions to help decarbonise countries, cities and corporations, by bringing together capabilities, products and services across bp and its strategic partners.
Her initial interest in chemical engineering was sparked by her experience of the modern-day Gulf War and its implications on society. It instigated a fascination with how oil is involved in many different aspects of our lives and led her to pursue a degree in chemical engineering (MEng) at Imperial College, London. As she became more exposed to the industry, the ability to have a direct impact on improving livelihoods was where her passion lay.
As well as her ability to climb the ladder of success at bp, she is also keen to dispel the misconceptions that the energy industry is old-fashioned and lacks innovation. In just the past few years alone, there has been an incredible amount of change and evolution in digital strategies, especially at bp, and she is keen to show this.
“Having worked in the industry for nearly a decade and had such a varied career in a relatively short period, I want to continue to level the playing field by encouraging more people into STEM subjects and exciting careers in the energy industry. It’s extremely important for me to demonstrate that no matter your background, if you have a great work ethic, you can succeed – and across the industry, we will only continue to improve by pushing diversity at all levels,” said Hani.
Hanneke Faber - President of Unilever Nutrition
In her current role, Hanneke leads Unilever’s Nutrition Business Group, including full P&L responsibility, strategy, M&A, innovation, marketing, digital and a supply chain of more than 200 factories and contract manufacturers around the world.
Prior to becoming Nutrition President, Hanneke was President of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment Division, and under her leadership, the Division’s growth accelerated significantly.
Before joining Unilever, Hanneke was a member of the Executive Committee of global retailer Ahold Delhaize and held various international leadership roles at Procter & Gamble.
Hanneke holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Houston, which she attended on a full athletic (diving) scholarship. She was a 7-time Dutch National Champion.
Hanneke was recognised by Fortune magazine as one of the most influential international women in business, as #23 in the latest ranking issued in 2021 - and her work and commitment to Unilever are helping shape a great future for everyone.
Jenny Holloway - CEO of Fashion Capital
Launched in 2001 FashionCapital is a one-stop online resource with a dedicated team of mentors and industry experts to ensure users receive a unique and comprehensive insight into the world of fashion, manufacturing and business. Fashion Capital Provides a wealth of information including, sampling & production, business support, training, events, and much more.
Founder and CEO Jenny Holloway has over thirty-five years in the fashion industry and has had many successful roles. Initially, she worked for Littlewoods, M&S and was a senior buyer for the Arcadia Group before opening her own label Retro, which was a successful international brand for over 10 years. In 2000 Jenny commenced a consultancy business and took on the role of an Industry Advisor to Government and Project Manager for the London Fashion Forum from 2001-2006, and in April 2006 Jenny incorporated Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL), a not-for-profit social enterprise. Today FEL employs over 100 people and produces 12,000 – 15,000 quality garments a week for multinationals such as ASOS, Tesco F&F and Coast; provides a sampling service for independent brands and created the UK’s first SFA-approved Fashion Technology Academy (FTA) offering accredited qualifications for fashion and production skills Level 1 – 5.
Today, as the CEO of FashionCapital Jenny empowers individuals to get ahead in their fashion careers and encourages new business start-ups and established designers with a cross-section of support from industry experts. From mentoring to discounted rates on sampling & production to essential ‘Tool’s of the Trade’ documents and business planning. In 2006 FashionCapital amalgamated with Fashion Enter Ltd. Fashion Enter’s sampling and fast-track production services for leading retailers, e-tailers, designers and start-ups along with extensive training facilities and apprenticeship opportunities have ensured that the two companies provide one of the most powerful forces in fashion today - Jenny is really setting up the next generation of fashion businesses and manufacturers to succeed and to do so ethically.
Katherine Grigg - Construction Manager at Skanska
Katherine Grigg has worked on and managed some of the UK’s most prestigious building, infrastructure and civil engineering projects, including HS2, London bridge reconstruction, and many other notable projects. As well as her time at Skanska, Katherine has had a hugely successful career, working as a site engineer at multiple companies, before working her way to the top at Skanska.
Katherine Grigg was selected by the Women’s Engineering Society as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering in 202 1 for her outstanding contribution to inspiring inclusivity. Nominated by her fellow colleagues, Katherine was recognised for the steps she has taken to build a diverse pipeline of talent, ensuring that the unique needs of women and BAME employees are accommodated on site. She was recognised as a person who is striving to inspire change and take the industry forward.
Katherine is a true driving force at Skanska and has shown how far you can make it - she is a true inspiration to the younger generation.
Nipuni Karunaratne, Managing Director at IVY TECH & Model Factory Manager at Rolls-Royce
Nipuni is the Managing Director of IVY TECH, Digital Technology Manager – Model Factory and the Vice Chair for the Rolls Royce Gender Diversity Network in the UK. She is a Charted Engineer and received her MEng in Aerospace Engineering from Brunel University London in 2015. Karunaratne is passionate about digitalisation and advanced manufacturing technologies.
Whilst working as the Digital Technology Manager – Model Factory at RollsRoyce, Nipuni started her own company IVY TECH to develop cutting-edge new manufacturing technologies. She has collaborated on a number of government-funded R&D projects delivering cutting-edge manufacturing solutions. She has always been actively involved in STEM activities and helping the young generation by mentoring, coaching and inspiring and has been a motivational and a STEM panel speaker in many leading events worldwide.
In 2019, Nipuni was elected as the UK chair for the Gender Diversity Network at Rolls Royce and currently, she is working as the Vice Chair supporting the company in positively changing the working environment to be more diverse and inclusive. Her ambition has always been to spread awareness and encourage STEM industries to move away from stereotypes and value talent. Nipuni always thrives to be a role model for career-driven women, demonstrating her own experience of being a young female engineer.
Noor Mansur - Senior Electrics Engineer at Dyson
Noor’s engineering career began at the University of York, where she completed a MEng degree in electronic engineering, specialising in Avionics. Since completing her studies Noor has climbed the engineering ladder and now designs electronic hardware for robot and cordless vacuums, creating products for the global market at Dyson.
As well as her inspiring career, Noor is also a huge advocate for women making their way in the engineering industry.
“Awareness about an issue can change the world and we need a world where engineers aren’t associated with Bob the builder, where we can remove unconscious biases, imposter syndrome and provide equal opportunities. Gender diversity in engineering teams can only lead to a more advanced society, cooler products and global solutions,” said Noor.
She was most recently featured in the Top 50 Women in Engineering 2022, by the Women’s Engineering Society.
Radhika Srinivasan - Founder & CEO of EcoTextura
Radhika Srinivasan is a social entrepreneur passionate about sustainable methods to develop and procure medical equipment and goods. She is the founder of EcoTextura, an eco-friendly sustainable start-up specialising in manufacturing and supplying medical/hygiene fabric products. Whilst using its vast supplier network to provide existing PPE for the current pandemic, EcoTextura simultaneously worked on supporting the COVID-19 response through making and delivering free homemade re-usable masks to hospital trusts across the Milton Keynes area; alongside its main focus of developing its own proprietary environmentally-conscious PPE.
Radhika has a MEng in Mechanical Engineering with Business Finance graduate from University College London and London School of Economics and has since developed a strong track record with her involvement in green-manufacturing, sustainability and entrepreneurship, winning multiple awards competitions including the UCL Enterprise Fund Business Pitch Competition (2017).
Her commitments to the Manufacturing industry and her work to helping the country throughout the pandemic, whilst also making greener choices, hasn’t gone unnoticed, and have seen her become a finalist in Engineering & Manufacturing Businesswoman of the year 2021, Young Entrepreneur of the year 2021, and made it to the top 50 Young People Making Manufacturing Smarter.
Ruth Amos - Inventor of Stairsteady & Kids Invent Stuff
Ruth Amos is an award-winning British Inventor, Presenter and Professional Speaker, most famously known for StairSteady and her children’s youtube channel ‘Kids Invest Stuff’.
In 2006 Ruth was named Young Engineer for Britain and has since gone on to found multiple STEM outreach projects and programmes. Her first project, The StairSteady is a high-quality fixed handrail and a sliding supporting handle that moves freely when pushed but locks in place when weight is applied. It acts as a firm support for anyone who may need support climbing the stairs.
Her Youtube channel Kids Invest Stuff, run with fellow engineer Shawn Brown, has been featured on national and international news outlets as well as primetime TV. It is the YouTube channel where 4-11-year-olds can submit their invention ideas, with a chance of it being built by engineers Ruth & Shawn. Together they have had over 2 million views, and over 10,000 invention ideas submitted by primary ages children and have inspired thousands of young people to think differently about engineering.
She is inspiring thousands of children to enjoy engineering and is paving the way for the next generation of female inventors.
Samidha Anand - Engineering Manager at Caterpillar Inc
Caterpillar Inc. is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives. They do business on every continent and Simidha is the Engineering Technical Manager responsible for managing the after-treatment team for a number of their programmes and is accountable for delivering the Program deliverables within cost & timing constraints. Samidha has also been responsible for managing the 2019 Engineering Apprentice Program, encouraging more and more people to get into the engineering industry.
As an acknowledgement of her hard work, Samidha was selected by the Women’s Engineering Society as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering in 2021. Samidha does everything she can to raise awareness of the range of opportunities studying engineering or any STEM subject can bring, and through her role as a Caterpillar in the UK ambassador for the Society of Women Engineers, she hopes to inspire other young women to consider an engineering career in the future.
Sarah Black-Smith - General Manager at Siemens
Sarah Black-Smith is passionate about Manufacturing and has led the Factory Operations at the Siemens Digital Industries factory since December 2016, having previously been Head of Manufacturing. Sarah has worked for Siemens for 18 years and has held several Operational positions within the Siemens Energy business. Sarah graduated from Loughborough University in Manufacturing Engineering and Management. Sarah completed an MSc in Operations Excellence from Cranfield University in 2016 and will begin a Global MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School in 2021. Sarah loves Manufacturing and working with people. She is passionate about manufacturing in the UK and believes that diversity is key to unlocking our potential in the Engineering and Manufacturing industries in order to drive new ideas and ways of doing things.
As of this year, Sarah was appointed as General Manager of its Motion Control business in the UK. The appointment further underlines Siemens’ commitment to strengthening gender equality across the organisation and its drive to increase the number of women in engineering.
Sheana Yu - Founder & CEO of Aergo
Aergo is the World’s first responsive seating solution, using air to dynamically manage patients’ posture - founded by Sheana. Her responsive postural support seating system designed for wheelchair users is improving and changing lives for so many people, and her incredible design and idea saw her win the 2019 Women in Innovation Award.
Aergo Health is helping people around the world to live life to their fullest potential through inclusive technology. Sheana herself has lived with scoliosis throughout her life and it’s this experience as well as listening to others, that led to her passion for innovating smart solutions for managing posture.
Together with her team of highly skilled designers, developers and engineers – Sheana knows what it takes to create products that allow people to do more than ever before, that are super smart and look great.
She was also recently named one of the top 9 Women in Innovation by ‘InnovateUK’.
Su-Man Hsu - Founder and creator of SU-MAN
Former dancer and creative force behind the origination of her own formulations culminating in her own skincare line, founder Su-Man is a leading celebrity facialist-turned-skin care pioneer and the woman behind countless women’s seemingly ageless beauty.
In creating her signature skincare line, Su-Man returned to her roots as a farm girl growing up in rural Taiwan, using her instinctive passion for mixing natural ingredients into homemade recipes when products in the marketplace did not offer the “effortless power” she desired for her clients’ facial treatments. Four years of perfecting led to a capsule collection so well received that she enlisted the help of two leading chemists in Taiwan and France to further refine the formulas to bestow the benefits upon a wider global audience.
Each inventively crafted product marries the best of Eastern and Western skincare philosophies, providing the ideal balance of prevention and correction for the ultimate in skin health and radiance. Partnered with Su-Man’s easy application techniques to accelerate and amplify the formula benefits, her lightweight dewy emulsions promote skin that is instantly revitalised and enduringly youthful.
As well as her widely loved skincare products and tools Su-Man is also known for her commitment to making her business as sustainable as possible, in a bid to make the world a better place. Her mission is to adopt 100% sustainable recyclable packaging.
Are you a businesswoman making changes, with a story to tell? Why not enter this year’s Great British Businesswoman Awards, and let us celebrate you and your achievements - enter here.
You can also nominate someone you know, who deserves to be shouted about - nominate here