ATI comms • 08.03.24 •  3 mins

International Women’s Day 2024: Inspire inclusion

To mark International Women’s Day 2024 and the theme of ‘inspire inclusion’, find out more about the work and experiences of our female colleagues who are innovating, creating, analysing and making things happen in UK aerospace. Isabella Fudge and Helen Brocklehurst share their thoughts.

Name Isabella Fudge

Role International Policy Manager

How long have you worked in aerospace? Indirectly for three years and directly for almost one.

Favourite career moment? Seeing the Messerschmitt Me 262 at RIAT 2023 – the first to fly over the UK since the 1940s!

How do society, organisations or individuals benefit from inspiring inclusion in aerospace? One of the hardest questions to answer is always ‘what don’t we know?’. And that is why we need to operate inclusively by default. We need more voices, more experience, and more perspective in the room if we’re going to solve the really existential challenges facing the aerospace sector.

Who has inspired you during your career? Major Heather Penney, USAF has always been an inspiration. Her example of excellence and commitment to public service is often a reflection point for me.

How can aerospace organisations support women to thrive in our industry? I don’t believe the issue is inspiration – the cool tech covers most of that angle! But being ‘othered’ in a male-dominated workplace can be insidious, extra baggage when women just want to do good work. I look forward to a cultural shift in the sector that allows women to show up as people, on par with men.

What one piece of advice would you give to women working in, or looking to enter aerospace? Ask the questions! Imposter syndrome is so real, but the sector needs fresh eyes and input. Please bring your perspective and life experience to the table, because your question might be the one that solves the problem.


Name Helen Brocklehurst

Role Hydrogen Capability Network Skills and Research Lead

How long have you worked in aerospace? Forever! (>30 years)

Favourite career moment? I have two. The first is seeing a paper of mine being referenced at the ASME Gas Turbine Conference 15 years after publication – it was good to know that my work had long term relevance. The second one is when someone who had worked for me over 20 years previously contacted me on LinkedIn to say that a paper he had read reminded him of happy days at Rolls-Royce. And it’s great every time a plane powered by an engine I’d worked on flew over the site!

What challenges have you faced in your career and how have you overcome them? How has inclusion played a role? Getting heard and getting credit for your great ideas can be a challenge; don’t assume your hard work and talent will be noticed. Seeking out allies will help; get a great mentor who will talk you up when you’re not there and will guide you on how to navigate the politics. Build a support network of both men and women and utilise these to maximise your opportunities. And support other people – flag when someone is being talked over, being bullied or their ideas ignored. It’s only through working together that the negative aspects can be minimised and the workplace is optimised.

What one piece of advice would you give to women working in, or looking to enter aerospace? It’s not you! By this I mean, I have been in situations where the behaviour has been less than optimum yet everyone else is comfortable with it, so I have thought I need to toughen up. I have also been told on several occasions, if only I would change how I behaved I would get on better. It’s not you! It’s the culture and you should not change who you are to fit it. Find ways to call out bad behaviour, look for support to deal with uncomfortable situations and if nothing changes, think about whether your company is the right place for you. But persevere, engineering needs you, your different way of thinking and your talent and enthusiasm.

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