International Women's Day With Emily Argyrou

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a day to celebrate woman's achievements and how far we have come in terms of entitlement. It means every year we talk about the effects gender inequality around the world and how we can make it fair, equal and opportunistic for woman. It's a Remembrance Day of all those women that struggled and fought to allow themselves and the future generations ahead of them the right to control their own destiny. 

International Women’s Day was first marked in 1911 – over 100 years ago. Why do you think the day is still relevant?

It was the start of woman (and men) realising that females were capable of more than they were allowed to be. I think it was the steppingstone for equal rights and gender equality. We have come so far in those 100 years but there’s still a lot of work to do. It's important we never forget the first initial outcry that woman deserved more. Change must start somewhere, and it did in 1911 as a campaign for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. We must never forget this because then we forget how to start change.

Can you tell me about a female role model who has inspired you?

I am heavily inspired by a close family friend, Kit Wu, who is a neurologist at NHS Kings college hospital and co-founder of UK Chinese Medical Services. She suggested that I apply for jobs in aeronautical engineering and has always taken an interest in my studies, telling me to push myself. I’m lucky to have her as a role model as I aspire to her hard-working nature, thirst for continuous learning and absolute passion in everything she does. Her company utilises a mobile app to provide free one to one medical advice to Chinese people all over the UK. The aim of this service is to provide optimal care for people who do not receive it due to language barriers, cultural differences and social isolation. Kit is someone who pushes herself constantly and uses her knowledge to help everyone around her and for that reason she has always inspired me to be someone who never stops learning and growing.

What encouraged you to enter into a career in STEM?

When I was at school, I had a chemistry assembly and there were science experiments from helium and hydrogen balloons to using liquid nitrogen to freeze objects – so it all boiled down to science. The experiments were explained so well and in such a simple way that I felt it was possible for me to be just like the man performing them. I wanted to do something hands-on and creative, so my passion for science developed quite rapidly. Kit Wu helped me narrow down what field of engineering I wanted to go into, which was aeronautical engineering. Teachers also inspired me, I really enjoyed math, but it was always between a career in English literature to follow my love for poetry and books, or engineering. The moment I found out that a lot of engineers (especially back in the day) were poets as well, I had decided my career. Engineering it was and I haven't looked back since.

Why do you think diversity is so important in the workplace?          

Diversity means more ideas and contributions from a range of different backgrounds, which heavily includes gender. Everyone thinks in different ways and it’s a known fact that men and woman think differently. Why would you limit the knowledge you invest into an industry? No diversity means a smaller contribution of ideas, which means slower progression and development not only in the engineering world but everywhere! Diversity in the workplace is also important to teach people to interact with each other. Men and woman to work together in unison. Once this can happen, men and woman learn to respect each other, and this will is what international woman's day is all about. The end of gender inequality will be simple once an equal respect is formed between men and women.

With women only making up 24% of the STEM workforce, how can we inspire more women to pursue a career in STEM?

I think you need to start early, as early as you possibly can. Break out of those stereotypes that girls are given toy babies to look after teaching them to be caring, and boys are given Star Wars Lego sets teaching them to build and be creative. It's not about limiting what children play with because all these skills are positive but instead, it's about stopping the targeting of toys to a specific gender. In doing this, children grow up with different skills and different mind sets. The environment a child is in shapes and develops who they mature into. There's no point trying to persuade an 18-year-old that they should become an engineer or chemist if they have zero interest in it. Perhaps more companies can start offering classes to children as young as two or three, giving them the chance to build spaghetti towers or water rockets. Marshall ADG have an amazing LaunchPad team that deliver events to schools to encourage an interest in STEM but maybe more companies should try to do this and aim for an even younger audience.

What are your career aspirations when you complete your apprenticeship?

I'm not sure what department of engineering I'd like to go into yet and I'm currently still doing my rotations. However, my main career aspiration is to always keep learning. I want to finish my apprenticeship and to continue learning about engineering from people with more experienced.

Finally, what would you say to any female school students who would like to apply for a Marshall apprenticeship?

Go for it. Everyone in Marshall is so welcoming and supportive, the apprenticeship itself is fun, informative and full of possibility. Whether you want to be a design engineer, who works on the computers designing the components using computer-aided design, or an aircraft fitter who is more hands on working on the aircraft itself, it's definitely an amazing opportunity, so what's the harm in trying?! Marshall offer an amazing apprenticeship and not only do you meet incredible people you develop an abundance of skills along the way!

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