International Women in Engineering Day 2021

Join us in celebrating International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on Wednesday 23 June by taking a look at the fantastic achievements of women across our Faculty.

National Women in Engineering Day was launched for the first time in the UK on 23 June 2014 by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) to celebrate its 95th anniversary.

In 2017, National Women in Engineering Day became international for the first time due to the interest and enthusiasm developed by the international audience and participants in the previous years. International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) was born to allow the celebration of women in engineering to become global. In 2019, WES celebrated its Centenary.

The Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

In the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, we believe that our diverse community is fundamental to the achievement of excellence. We promote a culture of mutual respect where everybody feels welcome and are equally supported to achieve their full potential.

The Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences is led by Professor Nora De Leeuw, a distinguished academic and a highly regarded academic leader.  She is the inaugural Executive Dean of the Faculty. Read more.

In the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences we believe that our diverse community is fundamental to the achievement of excellence. We promote a culture of mutual respect where everybody feels welcome and are equally supported to achieve their full potential.

Professor Nora de Leeuw

Athena SWAN Charter

We have received a prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award from AdvanceHE, the national body that promotes equality in the higher education sector for our engineering schools, which includes Computing and a Bronze Award for Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. 

We are also proud of Footsteps: Celebrating The Diversity of our Staff, a brochure presenting profiles of a selection of colleagues working in the Faculty. The Footsteps initiative is a result from actions within our joint equality, inclusion and diversity strategy, stemmed from Athena SWAN.

Women in STEM at Leeds

We have a strong commitment to supporting women in STEM and this is reflected in the number of female academics and students working and studying within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Find out more about our diverse student community from example profiles of our current students and alumni, including:

Women of Achievement 

The Women of Achievement awards recognise the significant contribution and impact that women – both our staff and students – have made across the University and beyond. 

The awards began in 2012 and are now a regular feature in the University’s calendar.  They are a key part of the University’s commitment to further promote gender equality and support the career development of talented women in all areas of the organisation. 

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk, provided a welcome and introduction at this year’s special online ceremony, which was co-hosted by Professor Louise Bryant, University Academic Lead for Gender Equality, and Gillian Neild, Co-Chair of the Women at Leeds Network. This year’s Women of Achievement included:

The Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Partnership Awards

At Leeds we value our academic community, and actively involve all staff and students in working together to provide an exceptional learning experience.The annual event is part of the larger Leeds Partnership Awards, organised by Leeds University Union. This year’s award recipients included Dr Ornella Iuorio, School of Civil Engineering and student Mischa Sherrington-Bell, School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, for their continuous commitment to create a fair and equal environment in which everyone can achieve their potential. Read more here.

Margaret Steel Award

Four students from the Faculty will embark on their research project thanks to the Margaret Steel Awards. The award, in memory of Dr Margaret Steel, is a generous £1000 prize awarded to female students who showed a particular aptitude for innovation and want to develop an idea. The following students have been awarded this year’s Margaret Steel Award:

  • Sara Jones, UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence for Medical Diagnosis and Care

  • Christa Brown, Molecular and Nanophysics Research Group

  • Kristin Seidl, Product Design in the School of Mechanical Engineering

  • Zoe Norgett, Medical engineering in the School of Mechanical Engineering

Women at Leeds Network (WaLN)

As part of the University’s support for women there is an active network, WaLN for all female staff and postgraduate students. The network runs monthly lunchtime meetings, evening events and supports an annual conference to bring together female colleagues from across disciplines.

Meetings cover a range of topics including invited speakers who share their experiences, career development such as fellowships and promotions, maternity leave and work-life balance and personal development such as confidence, mindfulness, unconscious bias.

Student Women’s Engineering Society

There is a student led engineering society, an affiliated student group of the Women’s Engineering Society, who aim to strengthen the link between female students by providing an exciting range of events to network.

Council housing project claims top regional green award

Civil Engineers

Dr Fluer Loveridge is part of the Leeds team from the School of Civil Engineering who’s contributed to an innovative green housing scheme project led by Leeds City Council (LCC) which has scooped a top regional green award.

Following the introduction of the authority’s first Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) project, which used green energy to transform heating and hot water systems for tenants living in 120 flats in two high rise blocks in West Leeds, the project claimed the ‘best carbon reduction scheme/innovation’ prize in the Northern Housing Awards 2021.

The Leeds team, which included Professor Simon Rees, Dr Fleur Loveridge and PhD student Josh Turner from the Cities, Infrastructure and Energy research group, are investigating the efficiency of the ground-source heat pumps used in the project and how effectively they are exchanging heat with the ground. Read more here.

Boost air quality in buildings to reduce respiratory infections

Professor Cath Noakes stood in a lab

Leading experts in the transmission of airborne pathogens are calling for tighter regulations to control air quality in buildings – as a way of reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

Writing in the journal Science, the 40 scientists said: “A paradigm shift is needed on the scale that occurred when Chadwick’s Sanitary Report in 1842 led the British government to encourage cities to organise clean water supplies and centralised sewage systems.  

“In the 21st century we need to establish the foundations to ensure that the air in our buildings is clean, with a significantly reduced pathogen count, contributing to the building occupants’ health – just as we expect for the water coming out of our taps.”   

The scientists who have contributed to the analysis include Cath Noakes, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings, based in the School of Civil Engineering at Leeds, and a member of SAGE, the body that advises the UK Government on scientific emergencies. Read more here.

Award-winning research advances structural performance of efficient modular homes

Modular housing construction

Dr Ornella Iuorio’s work in developing innovative modular housing construction, in partnership with ilke Homes, has received the prestigious Institute of Civil Engineers Sir John Fowler Award 2021.

Based in the School of Civil Engineering, Dr Iuorio’s research has shown how incorporating advanced methodologies for the design of cold-formed steel systems can address challenges in the structural performance of Modular Building Systems. Her findings have improved the safety and sustainability of modular housing construction, while also reducing the cost of materials by 33%. Read more here.

New AHRC Project to Employ Heritage as a tool for Reconciliation in Conflict Communities

profile pic of gehan salim

Dr Gehan Selim, School of Civil Engineering will lead a new interdisciplinary project to work with war-torn women and young people form Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in three regions in Iraq (Kurdistan, Mosul and Baghdad) to implement a strategic approach to develop an evidence-based understanding of the role of participatory arts and culture in building peace and stability in border regions.

The project is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The £725m investment will support projects up to 2021 and it aims to promote the economic development and social welfare of official development assistance (ODA) partner countries to address the wellbeing of communities. It will do so through strengthening partner country science and innovation capacity and unlocking further funding to support this work. Read more here.

New Network+ to improve sustainability among the UK’s foundation industries

Professor Susan Bernal

The University of Leeds will be part of a new consortium aiming to improve sustainability in the UK’s foundation industries, which account for 10 per cent of the UK’s total CO₂ emissions.

Professor Susan Bernal Lopez, from the School of Civil Engineering, is Deputy Director of the Network+ which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).  The collaboration will grow by catalysing interactions across academic, industrial, regulatory and policymaking stakeholders to co-create novel solutions that transform and reinvigorate these sectors. It will underpin the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and support the ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries ChallengeRead more here

Postgraduate researcher Lekha rewarded for medical technology research

Lekha koria

Postgraduate reseacher Lekha Koria was rewarded for academic excellence in her research into ankle osteoarthritis, winning the MERCIA award from the Engineers Trust.

Lekha, who is a student on the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine research programme, conducts research that provides the foundations for understanding how osteoarthritis can affect ankle joints. Findings from her PhD could aid the future development of medical devices designed to treat the condition.

The award is given to postgraduate students working in the field of medical engineering who can demonstrate how engineering techniques could advance medical treatment. The Engineers Trust is the charitable trust of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. Read more here.

Further information

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Support INWED 2021 by using #engineeringhereos and #INWED21 on Twitter.