One of the country’s leading women engineers hopes to inspire female students at Bradford College to follow her into a career in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Dr Phebe Mann, who was the first and only woman to hold six professional engineering qualifications concurrently in the UK, returned to the college that made her an honorary fellow three years ago to unveil a portrait of herself outside the science laboratories.
The photograph was commissioned by the WISE Campaign, a national organisation promoting women in science, technology and engineering, after they named Dr Mann as one of their Women of Outstanding Achievement and handed her a Tomorrow’s Leader Award.
Having kindly donated the portrait to Bradford College, the celebrated civil engineer was proud to see it go on display in the David Hockney Building, alongside a statue of Sir Edward Appleton, the Nobel Prize winner, pioneer in radio physics and former Bradford College lab technician.
“I am really privileged to have my portrait be permanently located adjacent to Sir Edward Appleton's sculpture,” said Dr Mann.
“The perception that engineering is ‘not for girls’ has gradually been changed over the years.
“We can see more and more women engineers in responsible positions in industry. However, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers, out of 40,000 chartered civil engineers, only 2,000 are female, that is, merely 1 in 20. We should do more to encourage young people, especially girls, to consider engineering as a very worthwhile and rewarding career.
“I sincerely hope that my portrait can encourage more young people, especially girls, to contemplate engineering as their career.
“My message to teachers, parents and guardians is - encourage young women to consider careers in STEM!”
The portrait unveiling was complemented by a number of events in the college for aspiring female STEM students including a lecture on careers in science, science workshops and a production of the short play Humbug Billy which covers the Bradford Arsenic Poisonings of 1858.
Anita Lall, Bradford College’s Assistant Principal, said: “We are extremely honoured and delighted that Phebe has kindly donated this portrait to Bradford College.
“Phebe is an outstanding engineer, an innovative teacher and a potent role model and is passionate about inspiring women into careers in science and engineering.
“Her determination to keep improving and advancing knowledge has resulted in her exceptional academic attainments. She holds several degrees and is the first and only woman to hold six professional engineering qualifications concurrently in the UK.
“Phebe is an enthusiastic ambassador for STEM and works tirelessly to encourage girls to pursue civil engineering careers.
“I am sure that the portrait will act as an inspirational reminder to female students that they too can succeed in this field and that along with the photograph of Sir Edward Appleton, will encourage and inspire future generations.
“The college has a long history of science and engineering education and training often working in partnership with industry and employers. As a result we have a wide range of courses at all levels from pre-GCSE to A level, Access to HE diplomas as well as apprenticeships and degrees. We too are passionate about ensuring that women are actively encouraged into STEM subjects.”