As part of International Women in Engineering Day (June 23), we talk with Dinusha Thedchanamoorthy, Graduate Operations Engineer, about life as a female engineer.

There’s a view of women in engineering that, according to Dinusha Thedchanamoorthy, is a bit dated. “We’re not all tom boys,” says the 24-year-old Graduate Operations Engineer at BOC’s Wolverhampton branch.“Women shouldn’t be put off by the stereotypical view of female engineers. When you get into the industry you’ll see that there are all types of women working in engineering.”

Determined to succeed

Dinusha is part of the engineering graduate scheme at BOC, aimed at discovering the best engineering talent. She wanted to be an engineer since the age of 17, inspired by her father who worked in the industry. But her decision came as a bit of surprise to even him.“My family are from Sri Lanka, and in Sri Lanka it’s more traditional that men do engineering and women go into medicine. I was the first woman in my family to go into engineering.“Even though my dad was an engineer, it was still surprising to him. But I’m very determined and wanted to do what I wanted to do.”

And so she chose Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Further Maths and Design at A-level, before completing a Master degree in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London (ICL).“I wanted to apply my theoretical knowledge to real life situations. Engineering is essential to human life.”

Practical applications

And Dinusha found that outlet for real life situations with the BOC graduate scheme, where she’s currently working on two projects.First she’s helping with the installation of a 300-bar industrial cylinder system, working initially on the commissioning, then troubleshooting on the system.

She has also been working in the Test Shop in Wolverhampton to create and install a program to monitor the process in real-time.

Not a ‘female engineer’

The welcome she’s been given at BOC has been warm.People always refer to you as a ‘female engineer’. You don’t hear men referred to as male engineers”, she says.“But this will change over time. When I started studying engineering there was a 2:5 ratio of women to men. Now, it’s 50:50. So things are improving. “And I don’t get treated by managers any differently than a man. I’ve never experienced that kind of prejudice.”

Future opportunities

The future is bright for Dinusha, with plenty of options available. She ultimately sees herself moving into an operations role. “While I enjoy the technical side, I see myself in operations as it’s faster moving and always changing. I couldn’t do the same job over and over again.”And for those looking to get into engineering she has one piece of advice – do your research.“Find out what it involves. You won’t be able to find out everything you’ll be doing but with enough research you can get a better idea. Get some experience!

If you would like to find out more about a career in engineering, please visit here

To support International Women in Engineering Day 2017 we have created three videos featuring Amanda Hoskins, Astha Desai and Clare Parrish. Visit our YouTube channel to hear them talk about their experiences and advice for the next generation of female engineers.