Both my dad and brother work in engineering but it was my grandad, an entrepreneur with a number of businesses including a restaurant and chip shop, who helped me believe I could make it as an engineer.
He was my biggest role model, everything he came up against in life he overcame, and he instilled in me the same steely determination. He made me realise that there was no reason that being a girl should stop me being an engineer, and it gave me the extra confidence I needed when I started my apprenticeship.
I am in my fourth and final year as a mechanical maintenance apprentice, a regular day includes safety briefings and checks as well as maintaining equipment that keeps the nuclear power station operating at top efficiency.
Working at the power station is like having lots of big brothers. Admittedly when I started as the first female mechanical apprentice, everyone found it really strange, but now they are all used to it. Although having painted nails still causes some amusement!
Most of my time is spent in a boiler suit, so I love to get dressed up and do my hair and make-up at the weekends. When I am out and people find out what I do, especially other girls, they find it odd but interesting. Younger girls, especially, are really inspired when they hear that they could work somewhere like a nuclear power plant. They think it’s really “cool” and I get a lot of questions.
More needs to be done to encourage the next generation of girls into science technology engineering and mathematics (Stem) roles. Careers advisors need to stop thinking about engineering roles only for boys. I am loving it and I think lots of other women would, too.
EDF Energy supports 53 apprentices every year across the UK and is one of the main sponsors of the Glasgow Science Centre’s Powering the Future Exhibition, which is one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever put on in the UK to help people understand energy use.
If it wasn’t for my grandfather I might never have tried to get into engineering so the Glasgow Science Centre’s Powering the Future exhibition is a great way to get young people excited and informed about Stem roles. It will show them all the different jobs there are and will let young girls see that it is not just men in boiler suits and lab coats; that they have a future role in engineering in the UK.
The exhibition, which launches on December 10, is expected to attract 1.8 million people during its five-year life span. For more information about EDF Energy, visit www.edfenergy.com and for details on the Powering the Future exhibition, visit www.glasgowsciencecentre.org
Stefany Chisholm, 25, from Dunbar, is a mechanical maintenance apprentice at EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear power station