Women's Network

At Cavendish Nuclear we are committed to encouraging inclusion and developing a diverse workforce, to do that we are keen to inspire more women to embark on a career in engineering.

“Diverse teams generate better ideas, better decision making and better business outcomes” Lynsey Valentine, Business Support Director.

At present 19% of the workforce at Cavendish Nuclear are female, the Women's Network aim to increase this figure. The Women's Network is about doing something proactive to attract, develop and retain women into the Nuclear Industry, Engineering and Cavendish Nuclear. It is not about singling women out, it is building an environment where gender diversity is embedded in everything we do.

The aim is to achieve a thriving Women's Network that supports 3 key areas; personal development, support to STEM activities and raising our profile and brand. We want Cavendish Nuclear’s reputation to pave the way for a balance of men and women in engineering sectors. We have started to link up with other Women's Networks and want to provide our employees with networks nationwide and make global connections.

At Cavendish Nuclear we promote a work-life balance and empower employees to work flexibly and get the job done.

Chloe Branston

What brought you to Cavendish Nuclear and the Nuclear Industry?

I completed 2 weeks work experience with Cavendish Nuclear when I was 15 (five years ago). When I left school I had no idea what I was going to do so I went for the stereotype if you like and started health and social care level 3 at college, I really did not enjoy it and realised I missed maths and physics, so my career U-turn came about and I decided to jump into engineering, having received apprentice role offers from Babcock and Cavendish nuclear I chose Cavendish Nuclear as I knew this would enable me to further develop and achieve a degree in mechanical engineering!

What advice would you give a woman at the start of her career?

The  scariest thing I encountered was the male dominance, however I would say you don’t have to see this as a barrier it can be a motivation, that’s what I have done and so far my career is booming, break the barriers and be confident!

Do you think women are well represented in the Nuclear Industry and Cavendish Nuclear?

I think within the industry there needs to be an increase although I think this is slowly coming, especially with the Telegraph's top 50 women in engineering celebrating women in the industry. In Cavendish Nuclear I think women are highly represented, especially with the Women’s Network well underway it’s a great support frame as we are the minority currently.

Do you feel supported as a female in the Nuclear Industry and Cavendish Nuclear?

I feel really supported, there is so many positive things going on in and out of the company, it is fantastic! I was brought up to learn that you should give the same as you expect back and that is exactly what you get within Cavendish Nuclear, I am committed to Cavendish Nuclear and they reciprocate that feeling 100%.

How have you benefited from the Women’s Network at Cavendish Nuclear?

The women’s network has opened up lots of networking opportunities for me and has enabled me to connect with women across our sites who I wouldn’t have normally had the chance to speak to, I have met so many inspiring women within the company and I have a new network for support from these ladies.

Amy Stafford

What brought you to Cavendish Nuclear and the Nuclear Industry?

Whilst studying for my Chemical Engineering degree at university I was encouraged to undertake an Industrial Placement. One advertised was for Waste Management Engineer for Project Services based at Berkeley. It caught my eye because I’d never heard of a Waste Management Engineer and hadn’t even thought about a career in the Nuclear Industry. Once I started my placement I very quickly discovered just how interesting and diverse the work involved in nuclear engineering is. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year and returned to what was then VT Group as a Process Engineer once I had graduated. I’ve been with the company since then, it’ll be ten years this September!

Every project I have worked on has had its own unique challenges and problems to solve. As an engineer it is very satisfying to be able to do work which is always challenging and allowing you to think of new and innovative solutions. The majority of the projects I have worked on have been based around the retrieval, treatment and packaging of sludge based wastes. For each one I have worked as part of a multi-discipline team with Engineers sometimes based all over the country.

I have worked in a number of different offices for the company, whilst based at the Daresbury office I led a team which designed a retrieval and treatment system for the removal of wet wastes from numerous vaults on site. I led this design from the initial concept stage through to detailed design and since then it has been built and deployed at site. To hear since that the vaults are all now empty was amazingly fulfilling, knowing that work I had done had made an impact in the real world.

As well as the engineering work I have done, I have always been passionate about the development of engineers. With the support of excellent mentors I achieved my chartership four years after I graduated. This showed me how vital it is that everyone has a mentor they can go to for advice and guidance throughout their career. I’ve worked with Industrial Placement students and Graduates providing similar advice to allow them to progress in their careers. I hope I’ve been as helpful to them as my mentors have been to me.

What advice would you give a woman at the start of her career?

To anyone just starting their career I’d say do as many different placements as possible. Engineering is so broad as an industry and it may well be a while before you find an area that suits you. For women in particular I’d say never let anyone tell you what you can or should be doing, if you have an interest in a particular area then pursue it regardless of whether it’s typically a male dominated activity or not.

Do you think women are well represented in the Nuclear Industry and Cavendish Nuclear?

In the most basic terms women are not well represented in either the Industry or Cavendish Nuclear purely by the number employed. Having said that though, the women I have worked with throughout my career have been inspirational role models, often with more dedication, enthusiasm and character than many of their male counterparts. They represent a lot of what I think is good about the industry.

Do you feel supported as a female in the Nuclear Industry and Cavendish Nuclear?

I feel more supported now that the Women’s Network has been set up. It would be fair to say that especially in the early part of my career I encountered some sexism and it was generally swept under the carpet as something that I should just expect so I should get on with it. The attitude in the company and the industry has changed a lot though over the past ten years and although things aren’t perfect I do feel a lot more supported now.

How have you benefited from the Women's Network at Cavendish Nuclear?

Personally I think I have benefitted a lot from the Women’s Network. Firstly it has given me the opportunity to meet some very positive and impressive females within the company. Secondly it has given me an opportunity to set up an event which improves communication in the company. A colleague of mine had the idea to set up a knowledge sharing forum and so I have worked with her to turn this into an event which benefits everybody. Speakers are invited from across the company to give a presentation about their work to an audience made up of a cross-section of individuals from all areas of the business. The aim is to encourage people to talk to others they wouldn’t normally encounter in their normal working day and to find out more about the different capabilities within the company.