Series 12 – Episode 6 – INWED: a blueprint for success
On International Women in Engineering Day, Paige West speaks with Catriona Schmolke, Trustee and Vice President of Fellowship Engagement at the Royal Academy of Engineering.
This year, INWED is celebrating the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing to support lives and livelihoods every day.
Schmolke’s career spans across 38 years – she is a chartered engineer and a hydrogeologist. The bulk of her career she spent working as a professional engineer in sustainability and environmental consultancy.
“I wasn’t every focused at school but got enough grades to go into university. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I kind of landed in it. I didn’t choose it; it chose me maybe you could say.”
One of the biggest achievements for Schmolke was being the only female in the company at the time doing engineering. And that was a big thing. She’s also worked for NASA supporting the Artemis mission, been inside the Williams Formula One wind tunnel and been to the middle of the Gobi Desert.
She has also won a few awards over the course of her career – the Marion Martin Award for outstanding Female Leadership in Safety in 2021 and a Lifetime Achievement Award for Engineering in 2019. Getting recognised for your accomplishments can be key to achieving visibility in the workplace. But studies reveal that women are far less likely to tout their own job performance than male counterparts.
“Let’s not stereotype because I’ve spoken to plenty of male colleagues who feel that, you know, they would never think to speak up … I think sometimes we think other people notice us more than we think.
“I’ve seen a lot of women who are quite ambitious, and they’re held back by that feeling that they’re not valued.”
INWED celebrates its 10th year in 2023, and as we know, the day is designed to promote the amazing work that women engineers are doing across the globe.
Schmolke goes on to talk about her role as a Trustee and Vice President of Fellowship Engagement at the Royal Academy of Engineering, how important she feels role models are in the engineering world, and the personal or professional barriers she’s had to overcome.