Choose Cumbria
Lois Lauren Waite And Hayley Forbes

Celebrating women in engineering at Kimberly-Clark

Published on: Thursday 23rd June 2016

To mark National Women in Engineering Day 2016, Choose Cumbria spoke to Lois, Lauren and Hayley about challenging stereotypes, the opportunities for women in engineering in Cumbria and the support they receive from Kimberly-Clark.

Quality Manager Hayley Forbes, 31, lives in Barrow.

Hayley began her mechanical apprenticeship at Kimberly-Clark at the age of 17, and her career has taken her around the company’s sites in Europe.

She is now a member of the senior leadership team in Barrow thanks to the experience she has gained from her engineering background.

Environment Engineer Lauren Waite, 37, lives near Ulverston.

After graduating with a Masters from Imperial College in London, Lauren worked as a lab technician for a brewery before starting work with Kimberly-Clark in 2008.

Lauren has a varied role and is responsible for the environmental compliance at the Barrow site.

Electrical Apprentice Lois Turner, 21, lives in Flookburgh.

Lois is now in the second year of her apprenticeship and is inspired by former apprentices who are now working in senior roles at Kimberly-Clark.

After completing her apprenticeship, Lois plans to go on to be a junior technician and pursue a career as a technician at Barrow Mill.

Why did you choose a career in engineering?

Hayley: I went to sixth form for a year but I realised full-time education wasn’t for me - I liked practical application a lot more. My careers advisor at college told me about apprenticeships in Barrow, and I applied for a mechanical apprenticeship at Kimberly-Clark. I wasn’t familiar with engineering before that but I got more of an appetite for it as I went through the interview process.

Lauren: I went through college and did my A-levels, than did a degree and Masters in Environment. I started at Kimberly-Clark in the Quality Department but now I’m making use of my degree as an Environment Engineer.

Lois: I was told about engineering but thought it was more of a guys’ thing at first, so I read up on it and thought it seemed interesting. I went to Furness College for a year and tried electrical, mechanical and fabrication to see which one I liked best. I preferred electrical engineering, so I applied for an apprenticeship at Kimberly-Clark.

How does Kimberly-Clark support women in engineering?

Hayley: I don’t feel like it’s ever been an issue for me as I’m just seen as an engineer doing my role and we’re treated equally here. The leadership team has historically been male dominated but we’re seeing that change now. At Kimberly-Clark, there’s a women’s interactive network to build leadership skills that we’re encouraged to get involved in it. Women leaders in the company do web casts to talk about how they’ve progressed during their career at Kimberly-Clark.

Lois: I work with Lara Dowbiggin who’s a technician, but she went through the apprenticeship scheme at the age of 23. It’s great to see women who have completed their apprenticeship and worked their way up. It motivates me to be as good as them.

What advice would you give to women considering a career in engineering?

Lauren: You can go far in engineering and have a great career if you work hard.

Hayley: I’d advise other women to ignore the stereotypes and arrange some work experience if they’re interesting in a career in engineering. Taking on an engineering apprenticeship gives you an education and practical skills so you can get into a permanent position a lot quicker, and there’s no age limit.

Lois: I’d also advise other women not to worry that they’re too old for an apprenticeship, as I began mine at 19 rather than 16. I’d encourage others to keep applying for an apprenticeship if they’re not successful the first time. I’m really glad I chose a career in engineering.