International Women in Engineering Day

23 June 2022

Today is International Women in Engineering Day, a day to celebrate the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing to support lives and livelihoods every day. 



In celebration of the day, we chatted with Avril Coleman, our female engineer at Great Yarmouth, to learn more about her career in engineering, how she got into the industry and her thoughts on being a woman in such a traditionally male-dominated area. Here is what she had to say:



What inspired you to start a career in engineering?


My career to date has involved working within the communication, hospitality and offshore sectors and in many of these I had to use my technical, service and problem-solving skills. I enjoy a challenge and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty so all this inspired me to start a career in engineering.


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Avril Coleman, Facilities & Infrastructure Manager, Peel Ports Great Yarmouth

What challenges have women faced in the engineering world, did you encounter any?


During my career, I have encountered some people who doubted my ability, this is because you don’t see a lot of women working in engineering. Whilst this has meant that I have sometimes doubted myself, it has not impacted me and, in fact, it made me more confident. Gender stereotyping is still an issue in many professions, but it is all about growth, positivity and working as a team to make a difference. I believe anyone can achieve anything they want, regardless of gender, as long as you have self-belief and work hard.


What tips would you give to young women (or your younger self) who may be considering engineering as a career choice/study option? 


I believe working in engineering, personally, is the future; whether it's technical, mechanical, electrical or civil. It certainly is a role to keep your mind active, a path that can branch off into many other different fields, a career with prospects and a ladder to climb. 


What are the key lessons you have learnt throughhout your career journey?


Not realising that engineering was my first career choice whilst in my teens. I dreamt of being an air hostess, and then wanted to work in forensics. I wasn’t destined for any of those career choices. The path I chose and guided towards was better than my teenage dream. I’ve learned by my mistakes and this has helped me flourish, built up my confidence, and I now feel able to succeed and feel great about my achievements. I can honestly say working in engineering has been the best career choice I could ever made. 


What do you feel the industry and educators can do to showcase and promote engineering roles to women? 


We need to find ways to help women feel less alone as they help us build a more inclusive engineering community. This includes hosting and expanding female-focused engineering interest groups in schools, universities and workplaces, highlighting engineering role models who reflect the true diversity of our population. 


Women have made progress in engineering, and they can make much more.  Women like me want to achieve, be creative and collaborative. They want to share their thoughts and ideas, problem solve, fix equipment, design systems, and preserve the environment to make the world a better place. Engineers do all of these things. 


What do you love the most about your job now? 


As the Facilities and Infrastructure Manager for Great Yarmouth, I have various responsibilities. What I like most about my job overall is the challenges I am given. With our Engineering Team across the South Ports Cluster, we work well, and we can get through any challenges by sharing each other's skills and abilities to get the job done. The feel of success at the end of each working week and the joys of having every day being a different day - I can honestly say, 'you never know what you're gonna get!'. 


What is your proudest achievement throughout your career to date? 


My proudest moment… There have been many, personally becoming the Facilities & Infrastructure Manager for the Port. I have learnt so much whilst working at Peel Ports, many achievements made and training gained, all thanks to Peel; it's giving me the ability to grow, and may this continue. Thank you!