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On the top of Eaglesham Moor, Kirsty Bowman stands overlooking the surrounding Whitelee Wind Farm field.
It is at the centre of the UK’s largest onshore wind farm, with 215 turbines generating enough electricity to power more than 300,000 homes.
But for Ms. Bowman, she never dreamed that her domain would one day become this field of renewable energy.
She now has a job as an engineering technician and is working side-by-side at university. And she now thinks she’s on the right track after a false start that initially saw her opt for accounting.
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However, with ongoing initiatives to promote women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions, and particularly in the fast-growing renewable energy field, she is one of the select groups that it is hoped will rise in numbers. Around 11 percent of women in Scotland are currently employed in engineering and 23 percent in technology. Although UK government data for 2019 suggests that 24 percent of the core STEM workforce is made up of women.
Ms. Bowman admits she never expected an engineering career, but she knew she wanted to do something that she loved and excelled in related to math. She studied accounting, dropped out, and then decided to do an HNC in graphic design, then a civil engineering HND, and then joined Arcus in a junior position, a Glasgow-based environmental and planning consultancy.
Alongside her job, one of her colleagues suggested that she research, so she started a BSc in Environmental Civil Engineering at Glasgow Caledonian University. One day a week, she studies, she has two years left, and Arcus pays her fees because the business values education and learning and wants to invest in its workers. The course is 70% male, she says, but she was pleasantly surprised to see 30% female.
I knew I wanted to do something with math when I was at school, so I went to college to study accounting, but I realized it wasn’t for me and dropped out,”When I was at school, I knew I wanted to do something with math, so I went to university to study accounting, but I realized it wasn’t for me and dropped out,” “After that, I studied graphic design, followed by civil engineering. After that, I got a job offer at Arcus and found I could combine work with my studies.”
A final look at Jordanhill’s former teacher training college brings back memories of the past.
The 24-year-old from Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, is the first engineer in her family and claims she would certainly have taken the path sooner if she had learned at school that engineering involved technical skills and math.
“I really don’t remember us being told much about STEM or the educational opportunities, and I hope in the future it’s something young women can learn about early so they have the opportunity to decide if they want to go into that field,” she added.
Today, whether it’s looking at peat management plans, using 3D technology to analyze and estimate excavations, wearing her hard hat and high-visibility clothes, and traveling to construction sites, her days couldn’t be further from what she envisions.
“She added, “My day could include planning peat management plans, peat landslide risk assessments, or reviewing building environmental management plans, traffic management plans, and soil pollution desk studies.
“I’m still looking at wind farm designs using some really interesting technology. I do hope that other young women see what possibilities in STEM are available and are not afraid to follow it as a career path.
STEM gender balance was an area highlighted in the second annual report released earlier this year by the Scottish Government on success in the STEM Education and Training Strategy.
The presence of six gender balance and diversity (IGBE) improvement commissioners in the regional teams of Education Scotland was one of the main accomplishments of the past year. By December 2019, the commissioners had worked directly with 50 school clusters and had over 2,200 conversations with practitioners.
The report added that one of the aims was to complete and pilot a system for self-evaluation to strengthen the gender representation in insi.