Karen’s calling for more women to enter engineering

From left, Karen Collins, student Katie Barber and ZF TRW's Diane McGeorge.
From left, Karen Collins, student Katie Barber and ZF TRW's Diane McGeorge.
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A woman has told how people turned their noses up at her when she first went into a career in engineering.

Karen Collins, from Boldon, loves her work as a new product introduction engineer with ZF TRW, which is based in Peterlee.

When I started a mechanical and production engineering course at college, one male student said to me, ‘What are you doing this for, you’re taking a man’s job?’

Karen Collins, new product introduction engineer, ZF TRW

But she told how she faced obstacles when she first went into the role.

“I’m a new product introduction (NPI) engineer, which means I submit and explain new parts or mechanisms to the other engineers, ensuring a smooth transition onto the line for manufacture,” said Karen.

“I enjoy my job and I don’t walk into work thinking I’m carrying out a ‘male’ role, although, it hasn’t always been like this.

“When I started a mechanical and production engineering course at college, one male student said to me, ‘What are you doing this for, you’re taking a man’s job?’.

“That kind of attitude is terrible, but it’s not like that here. I’m treated no differently because I’m a woman, and that’s how it should be.

“It would be good to see more women in engineering roles, but only if they were the right person for the job. That’s what it should be about.”

Karen spoke out as Women in Engineering Day is celebrated today.

She and fellow ZF TRW worker Diane McGeorge boast a combined 49 years’ service at the firm, both as engineers in different departments of the global automotive giant, which develops and produces active and passive safety systems for vehicle manufacturers worldwide.

Diane, from Thornley, who works in the continuous improvement section of ZF TRW, started her career as a machinist for Dewhurst, after her dreams of becoming a nurse fell through.

But then she got a job as a production operator for ZF TRW in 1990, and since then has never looked back.

She said: “People have a perception of engineering as working in some dirty, cold, laborious environment. It’s not like that.

“It’s really interesting and there are so many different avenues to go down. Women should not be scared about coming into engineering.”

ZF TRW has a longstanding commitment to promoting women into engineering roles.

Katie Barber, 14, a pupil at Cramlington Learning Village school, is on a two-week placement at the company.

She was one of only two girls in her year group to choose an engineering-type work experience placement, and said she has massively enjoyed her placement at ZF TRW.