Engineer Penny is smashing stereotypes

Network Rail engineer Penny Gilg is the project manager of the new entrance scheme at Leeds Station.
Network Rail engineer Penny Gilg is the project manager of the new entrance scheme at Leeds Station.
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PICTURE an engineer and most would probably think of a man in overalls and a hard hat.

But one woman smashing the stereotypes in 26-year-old Penny Gilg.

The Network Rail engineer is currently project managing the £20m new entrance to Leeds City Station, and she has thrown her support behind a campaign to increase diversity in engineering.

Penny studied engineering at university, where she was just one of ten women on a course of 120 students.

She joined Network Rails graduate scheme in 2011, eventually joining a team building a new rail flyover in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. She moved to Leeds in August 2013 to start work on the southern entrance.

“I love the creativity of it all,” she said. “The two sites I’ve worked on are totally different. Hitchin was a blank canvas, a greenfield site out in the country where we could build something that solved a problem on the railway.

“Building the new entrance at Leeds over a river and over a live railway station, which we have never had to close to passengers throughout the build, is the total opposite but an equally fascinating challenge.”

Just 14 per cent of Network Rail staff are women. Working in a male-dominated industry didn’t put Penny off, but she thinks the image of the sector needs to change. She is supporting National Women in Engineering Day next Tuesday, which aims raise the profile and achievements of females in the industry.

Penny said: “The industry is getting there. Until recently it was difficult to buy protective clothing to go onto a worksite in women’s sizes and some of the facilities at remote sites weren’t really set up for women.

“Getting the message out that engineering is open to everyone is important.”

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