Hannah Nobbs joined Westland as a Graduate Engineer and is one of only a few women engineers at the Yeovil factory
I was used to being in a male-dominated environment because on my university course we were probably ten percent of the course were female. I don’t feel that I was treated any differently. I think it’s only as I go further through my career and after ten years’ experience I look ahead of me and there are very few, maybe only one or two, female role models in the whole company that I start to feel that maybe it is a little bit different being a female engineer. I think it’s a somewhat self-selecting person that goes into engineering. It’s somebody that wants to work with other people and so I found all the teams that I have worked with have communicated well and we’ve all got on with it really.
You’ve worked in Italy haven’t you, at the factories over there? Or was it just one factory you worked at?
Where I worked was the main engineering design headquarters and I was based there but there were other sites that were nearby so I would visit the customer support people who were twenty minutes down the road. In Italy in general, people with engineering degrees do not finish until they’re maybe twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old so I found it quite difficult at the beginning to get anyone to trust me to be competent enough to do anything because they see you as a school-age person. I had to make a lot more effort to build up personal trust relationships. Also, my Italian was non-existent so I used to have to go to people’s desks and talk to them, to wave my arms and make myself understood because I was too nervous to pick up the telephone but that was good because then you actually built up some trust and then people started to give you things. They were always polite but just didn’t really want to trust you with things and that changed over a period of about a year or so, as the language skills picked up as well.