Engineering isn’t normally seen as a career for girls, but Faye Banks is on a mission to change all that. Catherine Scott reports.
After growing up in care and leaving school at 16 with no qualifcations Faye Banks found herself in an unskilled job.
But this bright woman always knew she was wanted more - and she achieved it even attaining the accolade of UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year in 2004.
“I always knew that I was capable, but due to my background I just didn’t think that a university education was for me,” says Faye, now 37 from Leeds.
“I found an unskilled job in a local manufacturing plant. However, after six months, I was bored with the routine and realised I didn’t want to spend the rest of my working life doing the same job.
“I decided that the only way this was going to happen was to get some qualifications so I went back to college to take my GCSE’s and I achieved 10 grade As.”
Faye got an apprenticeship in electrical engineering and obtained an HNC in electrical engineering.
“I was really keen to continue studying but my only option was distance learning due to the fact I was working full-time. I saw an advert for the OU (Open University) in the local newspaper and it ticked every box, so I enrolled (in the year 2000) and have never looked back.
“I have been a student now with the OU over 17 years and have achieved an MBA, MSc, MEng and I start a LLM in November 2017.” Having these qualifications has allowed Faye to obtain her dream role as an Engineering Consultant for Enzen Global Ltd.
“I chose to study Engineering because I knew there was (and still is) a shortage of female engineers in the UK. Also through working in the sector I could see that there were numerous career opportunities for those with the right skills and qualifications.
“I now believe you can achieve anything you want to if you are willing to work hard and persevere when things do get tough.”
Faye says OU was ‘life -changing’ and in 2004 she was named UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year, won a National Higher Educational Gold Award in 2005, I became the IETs (Institure of Engineering and technology) Youngest Fellow 2015 and I was named in the Telegraph’s Top 50 UK Female Engineers 2016.
Now she is on a mission to get more women into engineering.
“If there are any women out there with aspirations to work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). then I would say go for it. I really enjoy working in a male dominated environment – I get respect for the qualifications and experiences I have gained over 22 years in industry.
“There is a misconception that engineering is a dirty job but this view is so far away from the truth. I did get my hands dirty when I was an apprentice but I spend most of my time nowadays involved in strategic work.
Faye Banks has been selected to Chair the UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award 2017, is a STEM Ambassador, chairs the IETs Horizon’s Bursary Funds and is helping the IETs President raise Engineering as a career for Women throughout 2017.
“I have come a long way from where I started. “
Friday is International Women in Engineering Day. Only nine per cent of the engineering workforce is female.The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.