Great Yarmouth

21st Jun 2024

Celebrating International Women in engineering Day with Shani Perdicou, Group Technical Compliance Engineer at STR

STR 113

Celebrating International Women in engineering Day with Shani Perdicou, Group Technical Compliance Engineer at STR

As the 23rd of June marks International Women in Engineering Day, we’re shining a spotlight on the achievements of women in the engineering field and recognising the invaluable contributions of female engineers worldwide.

At STR, we are proud to champion the talents of our diverse team. We sat down with STR’s Group Technical Compliance Engineer, Shani Perdicou, to explore what led her to a career in engineering, the challenges she has faced in the field and the advice she would give to aspiring female engineers.

Tell us about your journey so far, and what inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

“My career began in 2003 when I joined the Royal Navy as a Mine Warfare and Communications Specialist serving in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Scotland. This role marked the beginning of my journey into the world of engineering and after eight years in the Navy, I transitioned into the geophysical sector, working offshore as a Geophysical Engineer for a marine survey company. This position appealed to me as I’ve always preferred to be hands-on and I thoroughly enjoyed being offshore, as well as the flexibility that being on a six month rotation allowed me to have.

“Throughout my career, I’ve often been one of only a few women in predominantly male-dominated environments, which has reinforced my commitment to supporting and advocating for more women in engineering.”

How would you describe your current role at STR and what does a typical day look like for you?

“I am the Group Technical Compliance Engineer at STR, and my main responsibility is managing our database of assets that support our clients’ projects. My day-to-day tasks centre around ensuring all equipment is of the required standard, which involves a thorough process of monitoring and repairing faults, internal failures and damages. I’m also client facing and technical issue reports on damaged equipment as well as arrange payments and third-party repairs.

“While I’m not on the front line of securing new business, my role is crucial in maintaining the quality, reliability and performance of our assets - which is something STR prides itself in.”

What do you enjoy most about your job?

“I thoroughly enjoy the variety of my role and the opportunity to interact with colleagues across all of our Technology and Service hubs, including Australia, Scotland, Singapore and USA. I also love engaging with different departments, from the sales team and engineers, to the calibration and finance departments. The diversity in my responsibilities, and the fact that I’m recognised as a key member of the operations team, always keeps things fresh and interesting!

“STR has provided me with fantastic support and flexibility, which is particularly important for me having young children. The company is also committed to professional development and encourages everyone to participate in training and developing their domain knowledge and career - I will soon participate in the company’s new “People Development” programme aimed at team leaders and supervisors who manage, or will soon manage, a team.

What do you think are the biggest barriers currently facing women in engineering, and how has this changed from previous years?

“I would say that one of the biggest barriers for women in engineering is visibility. Young people, particularly young women, don’t see or hear enough about female engineers which potentially encourages the stereotype of who “should or shouldn’t” be an engineer.

“For a long time, I think there has been a perception that to fit into an engineering role, you need to be a certain profile of person, which can be discouraging for those who don’t fit that mould.

“Having said that, the industry has changed for the better since I started my career. In the past, hiring managers would feel obligated to interview a female candidate just to tick the diversity box. Nowadays, the focus is more on qualifications and personal attributes, which is a significant progression. There’s also been a noticeable increase in female representation in STR and at industry events - I’ve seen more female speakers and attendees on LinkedIn recently, which is great and reflects the positive changes happening within our field!”

What challenges have you faced as a woman in engineering, and how have you overcome them?

“When I joined my vessel in the Navy as one of the first females in mine warfare, none of the 38 males on board had ever sailed with a female before. Because of this, several crew members had to be convinced that I was capable of doing my job, not just intellectually but also physically. I was fortunate to work with a good group of people who didn’t focus on my gender, however, the perception that females are weaker than men was often a challenge. Despite this, I wasn’t given any special treatment and was expected to perform the job just the same as everybody else.

“Another challenge I’ve faced as a woman in engineering was uniform related. When I started going offshore, the overalls provided were tailored for men and often didn’t fit properly. Trousers were too long, and boots and gloves in my size were rarely available. As well as this, the expectation to go above and beyond to justify my position in a male-dominated field was also a struggle. Thankfully, over time, I think the industry has become more inclusive and focused on skills and capabilities rather than gender.”

What initiatives have you seen or would like to see that support women in engineering?

“I’ve noticed an increase in career fairs at local colleges and schools, which is a step in the right direction. I’ve participated in a few of these with STR, where we visited a local college and the students found out more about what we do. As a result of this, we recently had a female student join us as a Trainee Engineer following a work placement.

“I think it’s crucial to engage with students when they’re around 13 or 14 years old to make them aware that engineering is a viable and exciting career option. It’s encouraging to prospective employees that STR has female engineers across all our departments, making new female hires feel supported. The more we reach out to students and show them that engineering is an accessible and rewarding career path, the more we can open doors for the next generation of female engineers.”

What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in engineering?

“Go for it! My mum always told me that engineering offers a career for life; it’s one of those professions that’s always evolving, we see how quickly technology develops!

“It’s important for young women to remember that engineering isn’t gender specific and the industry is just as suitable for females as it is for males - there are no jobs in engineering that are solely built for men. If you have the capability and are willing to put in the work, you’ll succeed!”

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