Women in Tech: Sophie Davison
Mechanical Apprentice Technician, Sophie Davison, talks her career as a woman in the tech industry
What does your job involve?
I am a third-year Mechanical Apprentice Technician at Heysham 2 Power Station. I spent two years at HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan learning the basics of engineering. Now back on site, I work with the maintenance teams, completing routine and emergent tasks. I have completed my NVQ level 3 and, at Kendal College, started a Mechanical Engineering HNC. Working on station has been such an eye-opener for me; working with people who have an amazing depth of knowledge has taught me so much in a short space of time.
I have been nominated for awards in and out of the company; there is a huge opportunity to meet a range of new people and learn more about the company.
What is your favourite part of the role?
I love asking questions, finding out how things work and how to fix them. Being within EDF Energy gives me the time and resources to find all of the answers to the questions and I can get involved with a range of activities such as charity events (skydiving/cake sales/fundraising evenings), Young Energy Professionals and other Networking Groups.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Due to my small stature, I can struggle with the simple lifting and moving of objects that others do not. This has already been overcome by the use of hydraulic tools, lifting aids to ensure the jobs are carried out easily and safely. Also EDF Energy have provided appropriate personal protective equipment, such as a female harness and small gloves.
What inspired you to do what you do?
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up; I enjoyed every subject! My inspiration and role model was my cousin who is a Mechanical Avionics Technician with in the RAF; who showing me that anybody can work in mechanical engineering.
What education options did you choose to get your role?
I went to Carnforth High School, near Morecambe, Lancashire, from 2006-11 where I was Head Girl in Year 11, and Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School 2011-13, Lancaster and Morecambe College 2013-14. Then after two years of applying to the apprentice scheme I finally got an EDF Energy Apprenticeship at Heysham 2 Power Station.
When you were considering your options who influenced you either way? Were there any barriers to STEM in education?
I was encouraged into the university route but as I felt that this was not for me I looked into other options and this is how I found apprenticeships. The schools I attended did not advertise apprenticeships, but they did push the STEM subjects; I felt I was very lucky in this, as school made these sorts of subjects interesting for all.
What would you say to girls considering their education options?
Research apprenticeships or job opportunities countrywide; ask around as other people’s experiences, good or bad, these do matter. Try to find work experience, so you can find out what you like and don’t like.
What might put them off a STEM career? And how can these barriers be overcome?
Sectors mainly dominated by men, such as the engineering sector, can be seen as male-orientated jobs. Engineering though offers such a range of jobs, yet there is this perception that ‘mechanical work’ is dirty or manly. But thanks to changing times and technology advancing this is not the case. Barriers must be overcome by finding a range of role models from all sectors of the industry and taking them into schools, and we can challenge these perceptions from a young age.
What needs to change to retain more women in STEM careers?
Women in the STEM careers are helped to succeed through suitable education, perceptions and opportunities. They are kept through equal pay, opportunities and encouragement to succeed.