Women in Tech

WE United Level Up in the UK

28th April 2023
Sheryl Miles

On Thursday 20th April 2023, Electronic Specifier joined Women in Electronics, or WE United, as they held their inaugural European Level Up Leadership Summit at McLaren Applied in Woking, Surrey.

The day was packed with talks from industry leaders sharing insights and encouraging forward thinking into how, through leadership, decision makers can act now to overcome biases and build a stronger and more fully represented industry for everyone.

Power in diversity isn’t a new concept, but the WE United event managed to intersperse practical sessions and panel talks with emotive video clips that highlighted the stark differences between men and women in the industry.

These clips not only cast a sobering light on the inequality of pay (of which there is a 40% pay gap between men and women both in the UK and the US), the potential consequences of not working together and the effects of not listening to your team, but it also highlighted that: men care. They care that there is an imbalance, and they want to help.

Laying its UK foundations as a safe and inclusive space, WE United are building a reputation in the industry as a place where women and men in electronics can meet, talk, learn, and empower one and another, and they are also advocating the men who are championing the way forward for equality.

WE United holds clear objectives: empower, develop, advocate, and celebrate, and these were messages that they delivered over and again. Everyone in the room was equal, they were all there to achieve the same objectives. The day was arranged with the care that ensured people felt comfortable to talk and share, and through collaboration, learn and grow.

The agenda was packed for the day, starting with a welcome talk from Founder, President, and CEO, Jackie Mattox. Jackie shared her story of how WE United came to be, and she encouraged the WE United cohort to share their stories. The introduction provided rousing insights into the industry and Jackie’s journey, and it allowed people the space and freedom to talk to each other and reflect on their own journeys.

Reflecting on the Inaugural European Summit, Jackie comments: “Working with colleagues from organisations across the globe, it’s evident that despite location or culture, we can all unite under a common desire to advance the electronics industry (and related industries) by filling the pipeline for the next generation of leaders.  I was impressed with the engagement level of the attendees at the Inaugural European Summit and look forward to growing WE United in Europe!” 

Next to speak was Dr Stephen Lambert, Head of Electrification at McLaren who welcomed everyone to the building and spoke about who McLaren Applied are and what they do. He also pointed out the number of women in engineering is low, but the more specific the field, for example, electronics engineering, and then power electronics engineering, the lower the numbers between men and women became.

Coach, Facilitator, and Leaderships Development Expert, Sam Ellis, discussed the power of psychological safety and the effects this can have on everybody. The session highlighted how important it is to be heard and supported within a team.

Martina Drimala, Regional Sales Director, Eastern Europe bei TTI, and Ruth Gray, Director of Sales at Z2Data and Founding member of Women in Electronics Europe, hosted a fireside panel discussing how to build, recruit, and crucially, retain inclusive teams, and how to encourage the next generation of talent into the industry.

The last speaker of the day was Kerry Bennett, Pilot at British Airways, Aspiring Astronaut, and STEM ambassador. Kerry spoke of her journey and the importance of following what you believe, and the power of listening to yourself, and knowing that it’s ok to fail.

After a day of emotive, empowering talks and networking, there was a sense that if you want it and you’re willing to put in the work, you can achieve it. And after sharing her own story of failure, Kerry highlighted the importance of knowing that when one door closes, it’s not the end of the road, but rather there’s a different path that you’re supposed to be on.

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