International Women’s Day is a time to empower the women around us, celebrate female achievements and think about how we can continue working towards a more gender-equal world. This year’s theme of #BreakTheBias got us opening up conversations with our learners and staff about the stigma they’ve experienced in their sector; an issue particularly important for a training provider specialising in male-dominated Engineering and Manufacturing careers. Reports in June 2021 showed that women make up just 14.5% of all UK engineers; an increase from 4.6% only five years earlier, which begs the question, does a bias exist in the marketing of these careers, and how can we change these figures?

Here’s what our staff and learners thought:


Sophie Messner, Business Improvement learner:

“I’ve worked at Nissan Motor Manufacturing since leaving school at age 16, I am now 22.

I have developed into a professional, confident and competent young woman and have a fantastic career. To break the norm, I took a rather different path to my friends at school who took artistic avenues like beauty rather than choosing an apprenticeship. I work in the IT sector which has become less male-dominated over the years, although a lot of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic industries are mostly male populated.

One thing I would love women young and old to understand is that these are the best paid industries, and that whether you’re a man or a woman your capabilities and opportunities are endless. I would recommend manufacturing or engineering routes to all young women, as the available apprenticeships and courses make a brilliant kickstart to your career.  

I am currently a STEM ambassador at my work, I contribute to multiple STEM events and I run a GIMME session (Girls in Monozukuri, Manufacturing and Engineering) to help reduce the gender gap. Although I don’t believe there is a stigma, a lot of young students won’t study in ‘male sectors’ as they think they have a lesser advantage. Everyone begins as a novice & every day is a learning day, so I want to empower girls & women to understand that you are your own future, there are no limits or restrictions and your options are endless regardless of your gender.”


Lily Turner, Maintenance Technician learner:

“The stigma starts at a young age for women interested in manufacturing.

Throughout school I faced huge obstacles which I thought would hinder my chances of entering the industry. I was told I couldn’t do engineering, as I would feel uncomfortable being the only girl. This is not okay. Women should feel welcome entering the industry and comments like this should not be made to a young girl. With only 14.5% of all engineers in the UK being female, it has clearly affected other women as well. Careers in manufacturing aren’t targeted or sold to women. But the benefits and experiences women could partake in are endless.

NA College and Nissan have made me feel extremely comfortable at work and have allowed me to thrive in the industry. I am excited for what the next 3 years will bring and I am hopeful to maintain a long and successful career at Nissan.”


Margherita Pasquariello, Head of Strategy & Institute of Technology:

“The automotive market is still far from reaching gender equality.

Diversity and inclusion in the sector are still critical factors that need to be addressed, affected by staff shortage worsened by the pandemic. Being in a deprived area in the North-East of the UK, there’s a rapid increase in the demand for qualified technical staff to support the electric revolution happening in the region right now. This requires an inclusive approach to address the skills shortage, increase the students in STEM and maximise their progression into automotive technical carrier.”


Our Head of Strategy & Institute of Technology will also be joining a panel of speakers at The Common Room, Newcastle as organised by Coco Charity to talk all things #BreakTheBias in the automotive sector. Free tickets to the event are still available here: