Female engineers from Sizewell B and Sizewell C have come together to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day and encourage gender balance in the sector.
Through an event led by the East of England Energy Group’s (EEEGR) Skills for Energy programme, the Sizewell engineers are supporting a group of Year 8 female students from Norwich by taking part in the ‘Young Energisers’ event. The event has been shaped to raise aspirations and encourage young females to think about a career in the energy industry.
The students will take part in two, interactive sessions with companies representing the local nuclear and renewable sectors.
Meg Hopkins, an Engineer for Sizewell C currently gaining experience at Sizewell B in the radiation protection and environment department and Izzy Spanswick, responsible for coordinating the refuelling and maintenance work at Sizewell B, will both share their career experience to date and route into the industry with the local students.
Meg also took part in a panel discussion event this week for the Sizewell C Gender Balance and Next Generation, Young Professionals Network. Speaking on the topic, Meg said that International Women in Engineering Day shines a light on an industry that is traditionally male-dominated and that she wanted to let women know, they can absolutely be a part of the industry and that we want them to be part of it. Sarah Williamson, Sizewell C Civil Programme Director added: “International Women in Engineering Day is a frustrating reminder that we are not there yet, we need to shift the dial and encourage more women into engineering. Women are not born not wanting to be an engineer, its often engineered out of them though, this needs to change and we are determined to do all we can to support that.”
The panel consisted of a diverse group from a senior engineer through to those in early careers and directors all talking openly about how to work together to improve the opportunities for young people and more generally the gender balance in the sector.
Sara Warwick, Sizewell C Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator, organiser of the panel event said: “It was great to hear from our panel on what the project can do to best support those in the early stages of their careers. Our newly launched Next Generation, Young Professional Network, sponsored by Frederic Mayoux, Chief Financial Officer, will also be on hand to help those at the start of their Sizewell C career path to make their voices heard, develop new skills and also provide them with networking opportunities.”
Sizewell C has five Networks to drive discussion and education around creating a more equal workplace: Gender Balance; Pride (LGBTQ+); Disabilities, Carers and Parents; United Race for Equality and Next Generation, Young Professionals Network. The project also has a Mental Health Support Group and has also signed up to the Nuclear Sector Deal Gender Target of 40% women in nuclear by 2030, joined Women into Construction and signed up to the Women in Nuclear UK’s Industry Charter, to actively work on making our workforce more reflective of society.
Izzy joined Sizewell B in 2018 after completing a master’s degree in Energy Engineering at the University of East Anglia.
She started in the Engineering Department but is now working with the team that manage the outages at Sizewell B. An outage is an important time at the power station as it is when maintenance work and refuelling is completed to ensure smooth operation for the following 18months.
As Sizewell B is looking at the possibility of extending its life from 40 to 60 years this is an increasing important area of work completed at the station, as Izzy says: “I will be responsible for determining the best strategy to deliver significant work during outages to help Sizewell achieve 40 and eventually, 60 years of operation – this is a really important step in ensuring the long term reliable generation of low carbon power to meet the UK Net Zero ambitions.”
Megan Hopkins, Radiation Protection & Environment Engineer
Megan is on secondment at Sizewell B to gain operational experience for her role at Sizewell C. She is working with the highly experienced radiological protection team at the power station whilst continuing her studies in the area. Megan decided to work in the nuclear industry after an Industrial Placement with Heysham 2 power station in Lancaster. She recalls being impressed by the scale of engineering, particularly in the turbine hall, and wanted to use her Natural Sciences Integrated Master’s Degree to work in the sector. As part of her role Megan has been able to research new areas of radiological assessment using gamma imaging to improve knowledge and awareness amongst the workforce.