Lily Phillips was keen to buck the trend and immerse herself in the male-dominated engineering industry.
Her passion for engineering started during her GCSEs after a female teacher introduced her to the engineering pathway and encouraged her to find her passion in STEM subjects.
Lily studied BTEC Level 3 Advanced and Manufacturing Engineering at The College Merthyr Tydfil where she was able to take advantage of the many opportunities on offer. Lily joined the Panasonic Trust Higher Education Bursary Scheme where she was invited to schools to talk to younger people about engineering. The scheme supports students at The College Merthyr Tydfil within the engineering sector with a bursary worth £15,000 over three years. They get selected depending upon their GCSE results.
After attending an interview for her first apprenticeship, Lily was told she didn’t seem interested enough in engineering and it was her first experience of feeling that because she was female, she would face barriers in a male-dominated industry. However, this experience gave her the desire to prove to others that women can also have successful careers in engineering.
She said: “I’ve always been the only girl in my class at college and university, you can clearly see that I enjoy it more than most of the boys in my class.
“I firmly believe that anyone, regardless of gender, can achieve whatever they set their mind to. Personally, there’s a sense of satisfaction in proving stereotypes wrong, especially when it comes to challenging perceptions about what girls can achieve. It’s not about competing with boys but breaking barriers and showcasing that determination knows no gender boundaries.”
Lily studies HNC mechanical engineering at the University of South Wales and spends four days a week at Tenneco-Walker in Merthyr, completing an apprenticeship. Since her apprenticeship began, Lily’s confidence has grown and now she wants to inspire other women to explore the engineering industry.
She said: “If you really want to do something and you really have a passion for something then don’t let other people’s opinions affect that. You will try your hardest and you will prove everyone wrong. It’s a really rewarding feeling.
“Now looking back, I’d love to tell that first place I interviewed at how well I’m doing because they missed out. I’m passionate about engineering and I’ve had such positive experiences with other women in engineering which is really motivating for me.
Despite the challenges Lily has faced in her career so far, she is thriving and credits her time at The College Merthyr as a springboard for her success. Although she was the only female in her class, Lily believes she had the full support of her tutors who supported her throughout her studies.
Speaking on her time at The College Merthyr Tydfil, she said: “I enjoyed college so much, my experience was so positive.
“My tutors were predominantly male I and was the only girl in the class, but I was never made to feel that way. I never went in and felt like the only girl – they saw how determined I was, and they really respected that. They gave me so many opportunities and taught me so much and they were such a good support system that it really encouraged me to try harder. To be honest, I’d love to go back to college.
“The overall experience of was exceptional. I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else. Every single person in my class who wanted to go for an apprenticeship received such amazing support from the college. They’d put us on a different programme to help us get that apprenticeship – there was so much support that I just think overall they were brilliant as a college.”