A recent report from Talking Talent has revealed that engineering and manufacturing are the industries rated worst by women and working mothers for gender equality, with 92 per cent of women in engineering feeling their gender has held back career progression.

But it’s not always the case. If you can find the right employer, gender will not be a barrier.

Angharad Wrigley is a 33-year-old single mother. She left school after her GCSEs and until four years ago ran a small village shop in the Wye Valley.

When she reached 30, a reassessment of ambitions saw Angharad sell the business with a dream of entering the world of engineering.

She enrolled on a part-time HNC Civil Engineering and Construction course at the University of Wales Newport and worked part-time at Waitrose to fund her studies. It was at this time that she saw an advert for a vacancy at specialist steel bridging manufacturer Mabey Bridge, based in Chepstow. With no real expectation of landing the job, Angharad applied, if only for the interview experience.

Two years later Angharad Wrigley has established herself as technical services engineer at the company’s Lydney facility. It’s a position of responsibility in a team which is the main point of contact between the company and the client. The team pulls in technical details of major engineering projects secured, analyses them and makes sure everything is in order to allow the CAD department to produce the drawings and specifications for the project.

Angharad said: “My gender was no hindrance whatsoever with regards to getting a job in engineering with Mabey Bridge. They were more than happy to take me based on my enthusiasm and proven ability as I’d done so well in my HNC in engineering. I was feeling very confident after a good first year on the course and they said they’d rather have somebody with a willing-to-learn attitude.”

Since joining Mabey Bridge, Angharad has continued with her education, achieving her HND and is working her way through a degree. But while balancing a job, an education and motherhood has proved a challenge, Mabey Bridge has remained extremely supportive.

She said: “As my education programme became more demanding, the company has been very flexible and has fully supported me throughout. I am currently working three days a week while I finish my degree, after which I will be able to go back full time.

“I’ve seen no evidence that gender is an issue here and men and women are treated equal. I don’t feel any discrimination and I certainly don’t consider gender has any negative connotations for my career progression within the company.

“I’m the only female engineer in this department, but I don’t think the company avoided female recruits in any way, it’s just the majority of people looking for jobs in engineering are going to be male. I’m four years into a university course that I started alongside four women, and I’m the only one left. I don’t get treated any differently and I go out on site just the same as the men.”

So why engineering? Angharad admits that initially she was not entirely sure. She had previously worked as customer services manager for a conservatory company and enjoyed everything about it, but on the HNC course she found she really enjoyed the maths and the engineering side.

She said: “Engineering is quite a geeky profession. It can be quite a quiet, sensible and serious environment and I suppose it’s nice to have female input and to mix things up a little.”

Mabey Bridge is also supporting younger women into careers in engineering.

Now in its ninth year, the company’s apprenticeship programme is seen as a fundamental element in the future development and evolution of the company and is heavily supported by the senior management.

The firm currently employs 27 apprentices (approximately five per cent of the 550 strong workforce) and since the programme started, no apprentices have failed to complete their training and 95 per cent are still with the company.

The apprenticeship programme is innovative, progressive and inclusive and has succeeded in attracting young women.

Early in 2013, Gabrielle Field (22), a fabricating and welding apprentice won the Full Time Engineering Learner of the Year award at Coleg Gwent’s Apprentice Awards.

Gabrielle said: “I’m now a full-time employee of Mabey Bridge working towards a Quality Management apprenticeship and a certificate in Quality Management.

“I’m only the second person at the company to be put forward for this scheme. Although I’m naturally a confident person, progressing through the welding course has given me greater confidence to challenge my colleagues over quality issues and to express my concerns directly to the time-served craftsmen. I also feel more a part of the Quality team and able to discuss issues fully with them. The support I get has helped me grow in confidence and to go forwards with my self- improvement, ultimately to become a Quality Manager.”

Mabey Bridge is also well represented by women at a senior level and has two female directors on the Mabey Bridge Executive and two female members of the Mabey Holdings Executive.