Q: Hello Antonia, can you please tell us a bit about your career so far? 

Hello, I am a Graduate Process Engineer for Essity. We produce thousands of tons of tissue products, including Tork, as well as a range of well-known household brands including Plenty, Cushelle and Velvet that are known in the UK where I live. This is my first role out of university having graduated from Heriot-Watt University with MEng Chemical Engineering and Energy Engineering in 2017, so its very exciting. 

Q: Have you had any difficulties/challenges as a woman in STEM (either whilst in education or in the workplace)?  

At university, the gender balance was more equal than I expected, with females making up for 40% of the total students on my course. Admittedly, I am now the only female engineer in my team of ten at work now. However, the workplace culture here is brilliant. The roles have clear career progression opportunities, everyone is friendly and there is loads of support. I can’t speak for every workplace, but at Essity, my gender does not affect the way I am treated. 

Q:Why, in your opinion, are there not more women working in STEM roles?

I think there is limited exposure to all the fun and interesting opportunities STEM can provide; people may think that careers in this area can only be dull or difficult or uninteresting. If young girls have a natural ability or interest in math or science, they should be encouraged as much as possible to pursue a career in these areas by educating them about the diverse range of amazing opportunities that are out there! 

Q: So, What can we do to encourage more girls and women to go into STEM roles? 

It is important to educate and inspire young people about the depth of opportunities in engineering, especially women, who are still the minority in STEM fields. It is important that from school age, girls are given mentoring on how to get into STEM roles and given opportunities for interaction with the industry. That is why Essity works with local schools to run STEM workshops to inspire young people to consider a career in engineering. If a young girl can experience first-hand the type of work that lies before her if she chooses a STEM route, it may just be what inspires her choices. 

Q: What advice would you give girls wanting to pursue STEM careers? 

Go for it! There is never a boring day in STEM!

Q: What is your company doing (if anything) to encourage more girls/women into STEM? 

Essity is passionate about supporting women into engineering roles. With a shortage of skilled female engineers, we believe one of the best ways to close that gap is to invest in talented young women. To do this, we have made a conscious decision to reach out to local schools and colleges, offer to lead on practical STEM-based activities which align with some of our processes within the manufacturing of tissue-manufacturing that Essity specializes in. At career events at colleges, career fairs and universities we talk to women about how Essity can provide that much-needed step on the STEM career ladder through our fantastic graduate or apprenticeship schemes. This year we are also producing video content which we will be placing on our social channels, such as LinkedIn, in order to target young women and inspire an interest in STEM.

* Since we last spoke with Antonia he has passed her graduate scheme  and has moved on to a full-time role as a Process Leader. Congratulations Antonia!