It is International Women in Engineering Day #INWED on Thursday 23rd June. The Women’s Engineering Society organise this yearly celebration and it is now in its 9th year. As of June 2021, 16.5% of engineers are women and #INWED gives these engineers a profile and encourages more young women and girls to take up engineering roles.
To celebrate this amazing day, we thought we would interview Dr Carlene Campbell. Carlene is an Associate Professor at University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the Institute Manager for Research Degrees. She is also Chair for the Institution of Engineering Technology (IET) in South West Wales. Carlene is hugely inspirational and very generous with her time. Here is the interview:
What does your role at UWTSD involve and what other projects are you involved with?
My role mainly involves lecturing and researching. I teach the undergraduate and postgraduate security and computer forensics modules. I also supervise doctoral students in the areas of Cybersecurity, Blockchain, IoT and other technical computing areas. I am involved in the following projects:
- WIDI (Wales Institute for Digital Information)
- MADE Cymru (Manufacture Advanced Design Engineering)
- SMART Digital Accelerator
Are there many females in your organisation in a similar role?
There are a number of females in Computing, but I am the only female within the technical areas of Computer & Wireless Networks, Cyber Security, etc.
Have you seen any shift in the number of female students that you have taught over the years?
I have seen a shift within the past couple of years. Previously there were only male students on the Computer Networks and Cyber Security courses with myself being the only female as a member of the academic staff.
Currently there are a number of female students on these courses, especially on the Digital Apprentices scheme for the undergraduate degrees.
How long have you worked at UWTSD and what were you doing before?
I have been working at UWTSD since January 2013 when it was Swansea Metropolitan University. Before that I was at Coventry University and prior to that, I had a lead role in the Information System Unit as Senior Network Administrator at the Ministry of Finance & Planning in Jamaica.
What made you study Computer and Management Studies? Were there many females on the course?
I was encouraged to study Computing by my mentor after high school when I was a trainee at the Kingston & St Andrew Health Department under the guidance of the late Dr Herma Carpenter-Bernard. She could see my passion for computing where I used the only computer available then to computerise my work duties as the Epidemiology Clerk and provide graphical reports to the Senior Medical Officers for their meetings.
There were females on my course, but we were outnumbered by male as then it was a male dominated field.
Have you found it challenging being a female in your area of work?
It wasn’t challenging for me because I had a passion for computers, and I was enjoying using and learning the technology.
Do you think opportunities for females in STEM subjects have changed – are more females choosing them?
I believe it now a level plain field between male and female. All the opportunities in STEM subjects have transformed are more appealing and accessible to females.
What is your home/work balance? Do you think females face more challenges than males?
I believe the balance is 40/60. Work takes more of my time owing to the fact that I don’t have family or strenuous responsibilities at home. However, females may face more challenges than males due to family responsibilities at home. It is not easy to couple both. On the contrary, females who do not have family responsibilities at home (like me) may not endure any more challenges than males do.
What would you like to see happen in your industry to make it more inclusive for females?
Based on my observations over the past couple of years I believe the industry has becoming inclusive for females and is expected to improve even more. Therefore, to allow this trend to continue in an upward mobility way, programmes to ignite girls interest in STEM in secondary schools need to continue such as the ‘Girls into IT’.
What are your plans for the future?
My future plan is to focus more into cross/inter-disciplinary research and development within STEM and to impart my knowledge and experiences in a consultancy way.
What are your hobbies/passions outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy gardening, cycling and I am currently learning to play the alto saxophone and the cornett.
You can hear Carlene talk about her expertise in this video:
Thank you to Carlene for allowing us to interview you. Particularly as you are currently in Jamaica visiting family – hence the very sunny photo (obviously not taken in Wales!).