Women in Engineering

Held annually on 23 June, International Women in Engineering Day celebrates the achievements of women in engineering and aims to encourage more girls to consider a career in the profession. Find out more at www.inwed.org.uk or #INWED17

female engineers in the royal navy

With 2018 being the UK's Year of Engineering away and International Women in Engineering Day upon us, some of the Royal Navy's senior female engineers are leading the drive to encourage more women to join them.

Of the 29,500 trained men and women in the Senior Service, a little over one third are engineers - marine or weapon - to keep ships and submarines moving, provide them with electricity, fresh water, ensure communications, sensors and weapons systems are fully functioning... among other duties.

But of those 10,650 engineers, just 572 were women as of October 2016, when the latest statistics were compiled - 134 officers, 438 ratings. In short, in the realm of RN engineering, women are outnumbered by their male counterparts 18 to 1.

Taking the lead set by some of the Royal Navy's female engineering ambassadors, however, might tip the balance more favourably.

The highest-ranking female engineer in the Royal Navy is Captain Sharon Malkin, who rebelled against the suggestions of her headteacher at school - she wanted the then teenager to study philosophy, politics and economics at university - and plumped for engineering instead due to her proficiency in maths and physics.

Captain Sharon Malkin RN - AIR ENGINEER OFFICER

I choose engineering for two main reasons. Firstly, my dad was a technician in the Royal Air Force and worked on the Vulcan aircraft.

Secondly, throughout my school days I was naturally good at mathematics and science and really enjoyed the subjects...


"There are so many opportunities as an engineer in the Royal Navy," says Captain Sharon Malkin.

"You can work with aircraft, ships, submarines, complex integrated mission systems, data analytics, offensive and defensive cyber defence systems, complex propulsion systems and new weapons systems.

chief petty officer Nicola Howse - AIRCRAFT ENGINEER

I joined the Royal Navy at age 17 in August 1998 as an Artificer Apprentice.

During my basic training at HMS Raleigh I was chosen to be an Air Engineering Artificer and proceeded on to the Initial Training Group at HMS Sultan to carry out my basic aircraft maintenance course.

Women in Engineering

Petty Officer Charlie Cole - aircraft engineer

Engineering by its very nature allows me to be creative, question, explore, invent, discover, and create.

I enjoy the problem solving that engineering presents, along with being able to question various concepts and logically devise solutions to complex issues.

Commander Sophie Shaughnessy - marine engineer officer

Commander Sophie Shaughnessy has served as a Marine Engineer Officer in the Royal Navy for over 20 years.

Born and educated in Kent she then studied engineering at Nottingham University before joining the Royal Navy in January 1994.


Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineering)

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Marine Engineer Officer

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Accelerated Apprentice Scheme Air Engineering

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men as allies


I am paraphrasing Lord Mountbatten when he, on taking on the role of Chief of Combined Operations in 1941, invited brave men and women to bring their individual skills to the fight but leave their prejudices at the door. The recognition that we are stronger when we are together is, of course, as true today as it was then.  

So, whilst I am proud to contribute to #MenAsAllies, the fact that we need to remind ourselves is perhaps not (as some might think) an admission of failure but it is certainly a reminder that the journey is still not complete.  And we should, therefore, ask ourselves: How can we complete this journey more quickly?

I think we are accelerating. My personal professional journey, like many of my generation, began with the transition of women to sea in the early 1990s. We now have a strong track record of women performing well in all key positions and specialisations (including in command), and we now are on the cusp of accepting women into the Royal Marines as equals.



Women in Engineering


23 June

International Women in Engineering Day 2017

Show your support @INWED1919

Lieutenant Commander Jenna Kelway - MARINE ENGINEER OFFICER

I chose engineering for a number of reasons really.  Having always been interested in science throughout school, I didn’t really want to specialise in one particular area.

When I was looking at careers aged 15,16 & 17, I realised that engineering (in my case 'mechanical') brought together a number of science threads that had always interested me...

Padmaja 'Piya' Das - Civilian Engineering Instructor

26-year-old Piya is a qualified Able Seaman in the Royal Naval Reserves specialist branch of Maritime Trade Operations.

By day, she teaches personnel at RAF Cosford in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, mechanical principles and engineering maths at degree level.

Women in Engineering