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With only 6% of the UK’s current engineering workforce comprised of women, and an estimated 22,000 qualified women engineers not returning to the sector after a career or maternity break, enabling them to do so is critical to support a vital seam of talent. Read what SWE’s corporate partner, BP, is doing in the UK to encourage women to return to engineering.
Elizabeth Padmos, Lead reservoir engineer at BP
Mum to three boys aged 13, 11 and 9 years old.
Elizabeth’s natural affinity for math was apparent from a very young age, along with a passion for puzzles which she was also very good at. With an engineer father Elizabeth’s talents were nurtured with regular talk and demonstration of day-to-day engineering concepts, as well as tales from his work as an aeronautical engineer. By primary school she was sure – she wanted to be an engineer.
Following an Engineering Science degree from Oxford University, Elizabeth did a post-graduate year in Paris at the French Petroleum Institute where she met her husband. On completing her studies, Elizabeth joined BP in Houston where she stayed for three years before taking up a role with BP in Aberdeenshire, Scotland 15 years ago. Today Elizabeth has three sons - Johan (13), James (11) and Matthew (9).
Of her hectic family life Elizabeth says: "It is great fun but very time consuming between supervising homework, music practice, standing next to a rugby pitch, running them to clubs, helping out at school....... And now they don’t go to bed as early so no downtime in the evenings. Wouldn’t change a thing though! Johan arrived in November 2001 and I took eight months off work after which I returned three days a week with BP’s support (allowing both my husband and I flexibility) and the services of a great local nursery. I subsequently followed this pattern when both our other sons were born – eight months leave before going back to work for three days per week.
However, things became tricky when our eldest started school but again BP proved itself to be very flexible and I now work the same hours but across four days which works with the school day. I consider myself very fortunate – I have an interesting, stimulating, challenging career during the day and then go home to feed the kids!"
Elizabeth’s advice "Think about your role and be realistic about what you can do around the demands of a family - know when to say no and when to stop."
For more personal stories about female engineer returners at BP UK, click here.