Dame Judith Hackitt DBE FREng is Chair of EEF - the Manufacturers' Organisation
“The more I learned about engineering, the more I realised how vital it is to addressing the needs of society.”
How would you describe your current role to someone who knows nothing about engineering?
As Chair of HSE, I use all of my experience as an engineer to promote the need for everyone to make workplace safety an integral part of good business.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I originally thought I would be a science teacher and that it would be important for me to be able to explain how science is applied in practice. The more I learned about engineering, the more I realised how vital it is to addressing the needs of society.
What do you like most about being an engineer?
That’s easy: it’s all about working in teams. I don’t know of any other profession that is so much about working collaboratively with others to achieve success.
Tell us about an achievement which you are most proud of.
Recently being appointed a Dame in recognition of my services to health and safety and engineering, in particular being a role model for young women.
How has being a woman in engineering changed since you started working in the engineering sector?
There is much wider recognition of the value that diversity can bring to the whole profession – but not yet enough translation of this into career progression models. Today, there is a great deal of encouragement to women to become engineers whereas I encountered real resistance 40 years ago. I was told “women don’t do engineering” – but I did and I love it.
How do you think gender parity in engineering can be achieved?
There are lots of things which still need to change – not least a better description of what engineering really is – to change outdated perceptions about hard hats and overalls. It’s also important to change senior management attitudes so that diversity is truly valued and not just talked about.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
Go for it, it’s a great career. If you really want to have a career where you can make a difference and address some of the biggest challenges in our world today – become an engineer.