Based: Southampton, UK

Role: Lead Specialist & Team Lead, New construction – Specialised Projects (Machinery) 

Tenure at LR: Circa. 9 years 

Photo of Maria del Agua SiresMaria chose to study engineering because she enjoyed maths, but was told a maths degree wouldn’t be useful for a career. So she chose marine engineering, as it sounded mysterious – having grown up in mainland Spain, she had never been on a ship, and because of that, it seemed interesting.

“I think that with the nature of the company, and the work we do, it’s part of LR’s responsibility to set an example.”

Here’s what Maria says about her experience of being a female in the engineering sector, and her time with LR.

“I hadn’t really recognised much importance to being a ‘woman in engineering’ when I was studying – it was later, when I started to work, that I realised what a difference it makes. I started working on ships where I was often the first and only woman onboard. Many of the men had never worked professionally with women before, so it was very challenging to teach them how to treat me equally. These experiences are intense, so you don’t know what to do when something happens, or when you feel like someone is treating you differently, you find yourself in a situation where you ask, "where do I go?" If you have a good captain, it’s great, but if you don’t trust whoever is at the top, that’s where it’s a little bit difficult. It’s more than the place you work, it’s the people – you need support, and you need to know where to go.

During my career, LR has been one of the best places to be, mainly because there are more women. Being such a big company, you’re never the only one, and I think that’s a really positive thing – LR is taking steps to get more women into the business and into higher positions, and I think that’s very important. Not just for me, or for the people of LR, but in the society as a whole. LR operates in so many different countries, and even though I can see women out there in the UK, there might not be any women in technical positions in other countries, so I think that the fact the company has so many more women, everywhere, will spark some initiatives in other countries as well. I think that with the nature of the company, and the work we do, it’s part of LR’s responsibility to set an example.

I want LR to be a company where women want to work, in whatever country they’re in…to think “I know I’m going to be treated fairly, I know where to go (for support) and I feel safe”. We need to tell women engineers there are more women here to share it with, and there is a network that is going to help you and going to support you – I think that’s very important because it doesn’t make you feel alone in your journey.”