New film series celebrates inspiring stories of women engineering pioneers
Amazon has teamed up with The Royal Academy of Engineering and BecomingX to release a new series of refreshing and honest films that profile pioneering women engineers, ‘Engineering Heroes’. This series extends the Royal Academy of Engineering’s partnership with Amazon to attract young people into engineering and computer science careers as part of the Amazon Future Engineer, our comprehensive childhood-to-career programme aiming to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to try computer science and pursue careers in this field.
The films celebrate engineering and technology trailblazers, uncovering the inspiring stories behind their success and the challenges they overcame. The first three films, which have been released to coincide with International Women in Engineering Day on 23rd June 2021, feature engineering heroes:
- Dame Stephanie Shirley CH DBE FREng, who founded a pioneering software company providing job opportunities for women with dependents and went on to become the first woman president of the British Computer Society, having arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied child refugee.
- Ursula Burns FREng, who became the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox Corporation.
- Professor Sue Black OBE, who became a professor of computer science and technology, an award-winning computer scientist, Amazon bestselling author (for her book ‘Saving Bletchley Park’) and technology evangelist, after leaving school at 16 and fleeing an unsafe home.
The 'Engineering Heroes’ films will be shared on social media and circulated with schools through the BecomingX Education Programme and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Connecting STEM Teachers Network, supported by Amazon. Through this campaign we aim to inspire the next generation of young people, from all genders, ethnicities and parts of society, as well as challenging public perceptions of engineering.
“Engineering is a fantastic career if you want to make a difference, improve people’s lives and shape the future,” said Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering. “By sharing these powerful stories, we want to inspire many more people from all parts of society to become engineers: engineering is for everyone and we need our engineering community to better reflect the society we serve.”
Lauren Kisser, Director at Amazon’s Development Centre in Cambridge, explains the importance of the films for Amazon: “By sharing the stories of Ursula Burns, Professor Sue Black and Dame Stephanie Shirley directly with school children as part of our Amazon Future Engineer programme we hope to inspire more young people in these exciting, rewarding careers, emboldening the next generation of future engineers.”
The ‘Engineering Heroes’ films are the first to be released in a new campaign for ‘This is Engineering’, which features young engineers who have followed their passion, and joins the established BecomingX film series which include Olympic gold medallists, Nobel Peace Prize winners and Oscar winners.
Women are still significantly underrepresented in engineering and technology. Engineering UK’s latest analysis estimates that only 14.5% of those in engineering jobs are women and UCAS data on university application and acceptance figures for 2020 highlighted that women represent just 18% and 16% of accepted applications to engineering and computing degrees respectively. At the current rate of progress, gender parity among entrants to engineering degrees will not be achieved until 2085. International Women in Engineering Day is the world’s biggest initiative celebrating the achievements of women in engineering and allied roles.
Earlier this year, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Amazon also expanded the Amazon Future Engineer bursary scheme to support women students from low-income households studying computer science and related engineering courses at eligible UK universities.
Amazon is also supporting a number of Royal Academy of Engineering initiatives, including This is Engineering, a multi-year campaign aimed to encourage more young people, from all backgrounds, to consider engineering careers. At the heart of the campaign are a series of short videos, each profiling a young engineer to present a modern image of engineering and illustrate that engineering is behind many of the things young people are interested in like sport, fashion and tech.
Check out the first three ‘Engineering Heroes’ films here – and watch this space for new releases later this year!