Dialogue on Leadership: Women in Science and Engineering

Liz Watson Simon Robinson

Credit: Simon Robinson

In December Maria and I were back in the UK, and we had the opportunity to spend some time with my aunt Liz Watson. It was particularly good timing since Liz had just been presented with the prestigious Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) lifetime achievement award after 40 years of work with Rolls Royce, the engine manufacturer.

Liz started work with Rolls Royce aged 22 in 1975 after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in Engineering Science, where she became the first their first female Chief Engineer. Liz has also been a champion of women in the industry, through chairing Rolls-Royce’s UK diversity committee and through being a prominent member of the Women’s Engineering Society.

As member of Empower Women Brasil I took the opportunity to interview Liz about her career, and her experiences of having such responsibility as one of the UK’s leading female engineers. As she says, when she was promoted to Chief Engineer, it was a huge responsibility since she was not only attempting to succeed for herself, “if I had made a mess of it, it would have set back women in Rolls Royce for quite a long time”.

It was a great achievement for Liz to win such an important prize. In this interview she shares not only her story, but also some excellent advice for young women who may be considering a career in science and engineering.

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