International Women in Engineering Day workshop

June 23, 2022

For International Women in Engineering Day 2022 on June 23, University of Dundee hosted an event called ‘Allyship Workshop – From Apathy to Advocacy’.

Dr Ollie Folayan, Co-Founder of AFBE-UK (Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers), Chair of AFBE-Scotland and visiting Professor at the University of Dundee, and HRFCA member Dr Margi Vilnay, lecturer in Structural Engineering for the University’s School of Science and Engineering, led the in-person workshop on practical ways of strengthening allyship.

The workshop started with both Dr Folayan and Dr Vilnay’s presentation and conversation starters about where we are now with statistics around representation. The participants had the chance to guess the statistics before the answers were revealed, which sparked interesting conversation.

Pictured (from left): Dr Folayan, University of Dundee’s Dean of School of Science José Fiadeiro, and Dr Vilnay.

Dr Vilnay mentioned Hertha Ayrton, a British engineer, mathematician, physicist, inventor and suffragette, as one of the women who has paved the way and someone she personally admires. Dr Folayan mentioned Jane Elliott, an American diversity educator who is considered to be the forerunner of diversity training.

The classroom was separated into smaller groups, allowing teams to discuss different case studies and scenarios before sharing with everyone. The workshop delved into some real-life scenarios, allowing participants to discuss different aspects and approaches to allyship.

The participants engaging with the workshop.

The continuum, nuances and progress between apathy, awareness, being active and advocacy were highlighted. Apathy is passive, awareness is empathy and understanding, being active means support and community, and advocacy and allyship are the target. The impact of allyship is important, as silence is complicity.

Dr Folayan stressed the importance of understanding and empathy in different scenarios with three questions that everyone can apply:

  • Can I see you?
  • Can I see the situation through your lens?
  • How can I treat and lead this situation with kindness?
Dr Folayan speaking
Dr Folayan speaking to the classroom.

With everyone’s input, a practical toolkit for allies was created for sharing purposes. It includes non-confrontational responses to a diverse range of topics, for instance sexism and racism.

After the workshop, there was an opportunity to continue the open discussions and network over refreshments. It was a great way to participate in International Women in Engineering Day actively.

The participants included University of Dundee staff, students and partners.

The workshop took place during Armed Forces Week, on the themed day of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Last year, the University held a ‘STEM for All’ workshop.

For Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, they are already planning on hosting a panel and workshop on disrupters and ground breakers in Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow with exciting speakers and a student competition showcasing new ideas in November 2022.

University of Dundee is a Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award holder. Their Award was revalidated in 2021.

To find out more about the University of Dundee, please click HERE.

To find out more about International Women in Engineering Day, please click HERE.