Celebrating women in engineering

By 23 June 2020 Comment

The Nuclear AMRC is committed to gender equality in engineering and research, but women still play a minority role in the nuclear and manufacturing sectors. For International Women in Engineering Day, we asked some of our female colleagues to talk about their roles at the centre and what it means to be a woman working in a male-dominated sector.

As strategy director, Dr Emma Kelly is responsible for driving internal and external strategic plans across the centre.

I studied Aeronautical Engineering at university, and extended my tenure as a student studying for my PhD in systems and risk analysis. I have held a number of technical and senior management roles across advanced manufacturing, energy and nuclear technologies.

I always wanted to work in a technical environment. It was only on my first day at university that I realised the majority of my fellow students were male and it was uncommon for a woman to study engineering!

I am fortunate to work with people who are passionate about their field and embrace diversity as much as I do. I have certainly never been intimidated working in a male-dominated environment, and am seen as an equal by my fellow colleagues on the Nuclear AMRC executive.

I believe that history will lay testament to the fact that a number of women have played significant roles in engineering across the years and they persevered in a male-dominated environment. I would encourage anyone to pursue their dreams.


Helen Arthur leads the Nuclear AMRC collaborative R&D bid team, and is responsible for winning external funding for the centre and partners.

I have been employed at Nuclear AMRC for six years, with my first five years spent managing the national Fit For Nuclear programme (F4N).

I was responsible for developing the programme from an embryonic stage into a programme that was recognised and respected by the nuclear supply chain, government, nuclear industry and by other industries who wanted to emulate the F4N programme into their own sectors. Working so closely with the supply chain and seeing the improvements they made gave me a great sense of pride in  both my team and the F4N programme.

Building on this role, I was given the opportunity to review, re-design and implement a new process for collaborative research and development bids.  This has been extremely interesting. I have had to communicate with every group in Nuclear AMRC, resulting in my having a greater understanding of the overall business.  I have also had to engage with many departments in the University of Sheffield.

Having worked in engineering for the last 20 years, I would highly recommend this diverse and challenging sector – in my experience, every day is different and brings its own challenges, but can be incredibly rewarding especially when seeing the difference we make in the sector and throughout the supply chain.

I firmly believe that we need to employ the right person with the right level of skills and experience to fulfil roles, and that the opportunities for females are limitless. My experience in the engineering sector has been very positive and I would highly recommend careers in this sector.


Beatriz Acevedo is an assistant research engineer, spending a year at the Nuclear AMRC at the start of her career.

I’m currently on my placement year here to complete my studies at Loughborough University in a Mechanical Engineering degree.

I decided to study engineering because I enjoy problem solving. The opportunity to apply technical knowledge and analytical skills in practical settings or industry was a great reason to study engineering. There are also so many different roles available to explore!

Being a woman in engineering is a fun opportunity to bring new ideas and perspective to the field.  There has been progress in getting more women involved in engineering and other STEM subjects. The growing number of women in the field is an exciting prospect for the future.

It was great to be involved in events encouraging young girls to pursue their interest in STEM subjects as a STEM ambassador.