Listening to the WiRACHP Podcast “The States of Matter.” I realised that “I am not a girlie girl” is a phrase that seems to pop up in several episodes. As a womanfemale engineer 2 who is most definitely not a girlie girl, I totally get it. I’m rubbish at styling my hair, definitely can’t draw a cat’s eye and had no interest in playing with dolls growing up, but my lack of “girlie” skills is never mentioned when I talk about why I went into event management. So why is it talked about by female engineers when explaining their interest in engineering?

All of the amazingly talented female engineers who have been guests on the podcast are curious, creative, innovative, problem-solving and analytical. Girls can be all these things and still like high heels, sparkly dresses and Barbies.

Engineering as a career needs to be as inclusive as possible and if the podcast is to be believed many of the women working in it were tomboys growing up but maybe we need to stop mentioning that. We need to be careful that we are not subconsciously feeding the myth that to be an engineer you can’t have feminine interests. We all know that this is not true, but young girls may pick up on this message if they hear enough female engineers claiming not to be “girlie”.

There is a reason why when I was small, I thought the only jobs open to me were nurse, teacher or secretary. It was because that was what I was told I could be.

We need those Barbie-loving girls to know that the engineering profession will welcome them with open arms if this is a career that they are interested in. It is not just a place for blokes and tomboys. We have excellent female role models and engineering is an amazing job, that allows people to be creative, challenged, well paid and skilled. Some female engineers may identify as tomboys, but that is not why they are engineers, it’s because they’re intelligent…..and awesome. This is the message we need to share with little girls.

See you next month

Sam Buckell and Lisa Waters