Hi, I am a female Engineering student currently at A level and I thought I might share with you some experiences I’ve had and some studying tips I’ve learnt up to now.
Just a little about myself. I am currently studying A level Maths, A level Product Design and an Extended Btec Diploma in Engineering and have previously studied AS Mechanical Maths, AS English Literature and AS Psychology (as I am starting over year 12 to do different subjects).
As a woman in a male dominated environment, I have often felt the need to prove myself as an engineer and a student, whether that was trying extremely hard not to show how terrified I was of the machinery when I first started or working twice as hard as my classmates to hand work in early! I believe this has made me a better student and a harder working individual.
Being a young woman in Engineering has also opened a lot of doors which I thought would remain closed to me. Universities are often looking to enrol more women in their engineering classes and companies are looking for more women to add to their workforce, whether through jobs or apprenticeships. I did not even know an apprenticeship was an option before becoming an Engineering student, the idea of someone paying you to learn on the job and go to school part time was mind boggling! I used to adamantly say I was going to go to university once I finished sixth form, however, looking at my future, I believe that an apprenticeship might be the head start into a career I want. This need for women in the engineering workplace may seem unfair as it may seem that girls have it easier when it comes to progressing through the field, however, educational bodies will not enrol anyone who is not willing to work as hard as is needed to achieve their best, regardless of their gender. The assumptions that boys are better than girls in the field is thinning and the representation of female engineers is growing as girls learn that they can become engineers as easily as a boy could. This is exciting as I get to hear of the dreams and aspirations of my female classmates and realise that they will be representing women in their chosen jobs which is great role-model behaviour for younger girls who wish to do the same jobs.
I have also learnt a lot about being self-motivating in my work as my Engineering course requires assignments to be handed in before set deadlines constantly. I always have multiple assignments to do or to amend before a certain time and date. This prepares me for work life, as I believe a job will not include exams, but constant work which needs to be completed within deadlines. Product design is one long two-year project with some exams at the end and this steady flow of work that needs to be done to progress the project to where it needs to be, in my opinion, reflects the work flow of a job rather than education. And that’s not bad! You are constantly learning and growing as a person and the experience you gain from being educated in a more work oriented style seems to work well with how I learn best. Working practically as well as theoretically is the easiest way for me to learn.
I have a few study tips to share, from my personal experience which I thought might be apt as this blog is of course about ways to study! These tips are either what I have figured out or what I have learned from people and online resources such as this blog.
Some engineering inspo:
1: Learning by reading is not always easy, it may not be your style of learning and there may be other ways to learn information such as; getting a friend to help with topics you don’t understand or drawing out diagrams and looking up videos or diagrams explaining how things work. (Quick story: my teacher once spent 20 minutes trying to explain a complex concept to me and stopped once he saw it was getting me nowhere and promptly looked up a video explaining the concept, saying that he knew exactly how I would understand it as he had taught students like me before. This teacher is the first teacher to understand after such a short amount of time what I needed in order to learn effectively and it will stay with me for a long time.) The pressures that you can put on yourself when you see others memorising entire textbooks with ease can build up and overwhelm you. The way to relieve these pressures is to know that you are doing your hardest to achieve the highest you can and that your talents may not be entirely academic, but they can still get you where you want to go, whether that is the next stage of education such as A Level or university or your dream job.
2: Don’t think studying is always a solitary activity. If you need help, ask for it. Teachers are there to answer questions and often find it reassuring when you ask questions as it shows you are willing to learn. Utilise teachers, classmates, friends, and even tutors if you need them. I had to be tutored for my History GCSE and it was the best thing I have ever done as it boosted my confidence in the subject and I got a better grade from having one on one teaching time. I also had teachers who would spend their entire lunchtimes helping me through a difficult topic or question and this inclusion of others in my own studying time helped me reach my goals and start to understand how I learn best.
3: Resist the scrolling urge. There you are studying away and suddenly you are on your phone, three social media apps deep and you waste a good portion of time scrolling. There are apps you can get on your phone such as the Forest app that encourage you to spend time off your phone. Using such apps make it much less tempting to go on my phone and much easier to study uninterrupted. It also helps me spend less of my free time on my phone as this can sometimes lead to me wasting my time when I could be doing something that could make me happier such as watching a new tv show or reading a really good book.
I would just like to conclude by saying to all of the female students and workers who are in male dominated fields that you are one of the most inspirational groups of people I know. I know first hand how daunting it is to go into such an environment, and I want to thank each and every one of you for making it to where you are so that the next generations of girls can follow in our footsteps a little easier and feel more at home in the environments we help shape for them.
Finally, I would like to thank Rose without whom I would not be achieving a dream of mine, to write an article on a topic I am passionate about and have people see it, and also for the study tips, videos and Instagram posts. Those got me through some tough academic times and motivated me to get where I am today, to constantly push myself to achieve my dreams, so thank you!
Article written by Sydney.
Sydney is currently a sixth form student studying to achieve an Engineering level 3 Btec, a product design A level and a maths A level at the Silverstone UTC in Silverstone, England. She enjoys listening to music, snowboarding and has dedicated an entire wall of her bedroom to good books. Her dream career is aerospace.