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Lancashire engineer encouraging others to follow career
4:26pm Monday 1st August 2011 in Profiles
BBEING the only Asian woman in her team has not deterred Uzma Khan from pursuing a career in systems engineering.
And with the support of her employer, BAE Systems, Uzma has gone from strength to strength since she joined the company after university.
The 29-year-old, who is based at the Samlesbury site, is encouraging women who have an interest in engineering or maths and science to consider taken up a job in the profession.
Instead of the stereotypical view of engineers in boiler suits carrying tool kits, Uzma said the reality was completely different.
She said although her role was very technical, much more of it was office-based.
Uzma, who currently works as an enterprise architect, said: “I think people have a lot of misconceptions and people think engineering is more for the male population rather than the female population.
“There are still more males in the profession. Only a third of the office is female and I am the only Muslim female in the office I am based at.
“But hopefully people will see someone like me and think that they could become an engineer.
“At BAE I am judged on my ability, not on the way I look. I am quite religious and wear a headscarf but everyone respects that and I am respected for the work I do.”
Uzma, from Preston, became interested in engineering and working for BAE when she completed a two-week scholarship before going to university.
She then went on to study at Loughborough University for a degree designed by BAE Systems. She then secured a graduate position with the aerospace giant and worked on the F35 programme at Samlesbury.
Uzma is currently working a project for unmanned aircraft to carry out mundane tasks within British civil aerospace.
She said: “My family and parents have been very supportive.
“They knew I was good at maths and sciences and liked the fact that I wanted to do something different.
"People are still surprised when I tell them I’m an engineer because they expect engineers to be in overalls and with tool boxes but it is more office-based and people are surprised by that.
“I would recommend everyone try engineering. I find it very interesting it keeps me happy.
“And it is satisfying knowing that I have worked on an aircraft and that my work is part of that piece of engineering.”
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