International Women in Engineering: The Empowering Engineers at Coventry University

Ahead of International Women in Engineering Day, Fieri’s Commercial and Marketing Director told us some of his lessons from Coventry University that are making the engineering world a more inclusive and diverse place.

“I’m a graduate and alumni of Coventry university, having graduated in 1996 with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering. Since then I’ve kept in touch with the university, through friends and fellow ex-students, and now have the absolute honour of being a Member of the Industrial Advisory Board for both the Engineering Faculties and also a volunteer member on the ED&I Sub Committee.”

Having worked in the high pressure environment of Formula 1, Al now dedicates his expertise and resources to support young and upcoming engineers at Coventry University alongside his work with Fieri.

Engineering and Equity

“Even in 2023, I think the statistics show that women make up only 16% of the UK engineering sector, which, although has grown from something as low as 10% in 2010, is still extremely low. I can only share my own thoughts on this, but if we assume that, by the time most people have reached University, they have a fairly good idea of the sector, if not the role, they want to pursue. Which therefore must mean that the work to encourage more females to enter into an engineering career has to start far earlier in the education system. Perceptions of what constitutes engineering roles needs to change – and I think they slowly are.”

As Al progressed in his engineering career, he noticed the gender disparity among his colleagues. Determined to change this, Al became a supportive ally, and mentor to countless female engineers. Working with and learning from the leaders of the Coventry University engineering programme, Al decided to lend his support to the university and its aspiring engineers.

Supporting Young Talent

During his time at Formula One, Al saw multiple initiatives that supported young talent developing in the engineering sector.

“When I look at my old world of Formula One, I see great initiatives such as Formula One in Schools, Formula One in Primary Schools, GreenPower, and Formula Student, all as opportunities to provide an exciting and attractive side of engineering – and that is all really positive.”

Coventry University encompasses a range of initiatives aimed at fostering a supportive environment for young female engineers. This includes providing mentorship programmes, developing connections with high performing engineering companies, and scholarship opportunities exclusively for female students. By developing a gender balanced faculty, Coventry University provide young, female engineers with inspiring role models that have faced some of the same barriers they face heading into a field that is still male heavy.

The Ripple Effect

“We know that a more diverse workforce drives creativity, innovation, profitability, and higher engagement, amongst many other things. The diversity, not only of gender, but in culture, ethnicity, disability, age, neurodiversity, all help to bring diversity of thought, experience, perspective, and all should be encouraged at every opportunity. The feeling of being part of a team that is fully inclusive and supportive, makes for a great place to work, and as a result, often enables teams to deliver their very best work.”

By creating a more inclusive environment, Al believes that we can encourage female students to pursue their engineering dreams without hesitation. The impact of this support extends beyond the university, as empowered female engineers go on to shape industries, mentor others, and inspire future generations.

There is no easy way to build balanced teams, but organisations can start by being inclusive with their hiring practices, ensuring that they are creating not only equal, but equitable environments that allow every individual to feel comfortable and heard.