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Engineering Heroes films launched to celebrate women in engineering on IWED

A new series of films have been launched as part of This is Engineering, a campaign led by the Royal Academy of Engineering to challenge stereotypes and inspire the next generation of engineers.

To coincide with International Women in Engineering Day (June 23), the Royal Academy of Engineering has partnered with BecomingX and Amazon to release the new series of refreshing and honest films profiling pioneering women engineers. The first three films feature engineering heroes Ursula Burns FREng, Professor Sue Black and Dame Stephanie Shirley FREng.

A series of films have been released to celebrate pioneering women in engineering on International Women in Engineering Day / Picture: Technicians Make It Happen


The films celebrate engineering and technology trailblazers, uncovering the inspiring stories behind their success and the challenges they overcame. In a bid to inspire the next generation of young people, from all genders, ethnicities and parts of society, as well as challenge public perceptions of the profession, the films will be shared on social media channels, as well as circulated to schools through the BecomingX Education Programme and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Connecting STEM Teachers Network.

The first three stories in the series launched on International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) are:

Ursula Burns FREng, who became the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox Corporation.
Professor Sue Black OBE, who becoame a professor of computer science and technology, and award-winning computer scientist, Amazon bestselling author (for her book Saving Bletchley Park) and technology evangelist, after leaving school at 16 and fleeting an unsafe home.
Dame Stephanie Shirley CH DBE FREng, who founded a pioneering software company providing job opportunities for women with dependents and became the first woman president of the British Computer Society having arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied child refugee.

Women are still significantly underrepresented in engineering and technology. EngineeringUK’s latest analysis estimates that only 14.5% of those in engineering jobs are women and UCAS data on university application and acceptance figures for the 2020 cycle highlighted that women represent just 18% and 16% of accepted applications to engineering and computing degrees respectively. At the current rate of progress, gender parity among entrants to engineering degrees will not be achieved until 2085.

The first three stories in the series feature Ursula Burns, Sue Black and Dame Stephanie Shirley / Picture: This Is Engineering


The new series joins the established BecomingX series of films featuring Olympic gold medallists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and Oscar winners.

This launch extends the Academy’s partnership with Amazon to attract young people from all backgrounds into engineering and computer science careers as part of Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon’s comprehensive childhood-to-career programme aiming to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to explore computer science and pursue careers in this field.

Earlier this year, the Academy and Amazon expanded the Amazon Future Engineer bursary scheme to support women students from low-income households studying computer science and related engineering courses at UK universities. Amazon is also supporting a number of Royal Academy of Engineering initiatives, including the national Connecting STEM Teachers programme, a support network for teachers across all STEM subjects that ensures they have the knowledge and confidence to engage a greater number and wider spectrum of school students with STEM. The programme works with 1,000 schools and operates across all regions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

‘Engineering Heroes‘ can be viewed at Other films in the series will be released later in 2021.

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