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Meet the female engineer taking charge in Northern Ireland’s gas industry

Meet the female engineer taking charge in Northern Ireland’s gas industry

Posted: 21 Jun, 2024

With her favourite topics in school including maths and science, it is no surprise that Oonagh McCann, Team Manager at Evolve Network, went on to study Mechanical Engineering at Ulster University. It was at this time, however, that she realised just how underrepresented females were in the engineering industry, being one of only four girls in a class of forty. 

Despite this, Oonagh does not feel that her gender has ever hindered her career, even when considering the significant gender imbalance with STEM. It has made her notice, however, when more women do enter the world of engineering. 

Take a meeting for example. Around 20% of those in the room are now women. While we still have a long way to go until there is a more even gender split, I have seen the number of women taking up careers in engineering double since my days at university, with most of that happening in the last 10 years.” 

A lot of this is thanks to the increased visibility of women in STEM related careers. When discussing how best to recruit women into engineering, Oonagh welcomes the encouragement and support given to young women in school to pursue STEM-related careers but has found that even just being out on the job can be the best advertisement of all. “Even something as simple as when I am out on the street working, you will see the odd person double take when they realise it’s a woman wearing the high vis, but I actually think the best way to increase female representation in engineering is by showing us in the thick of it.”

Oonagh McCann, Evolve.

When asked about instances such as maternity leave, Oonagh is proud to say that Evolve had been fully supportive when she had both of her children, and that she enjoys a healthy work life balance. “Since COVID, the whole world has realised that we don’t have to be chained to the office desk anymore, and that many of us can be much more productive at home while cutting the commute time and ensuring we have a little more time with our families. This is something I am especially grateful for as a mum of two.”

For any females looking to start out in the engineering industry, Oonagh’s best advice is to do everything you can to equip yourself with the appropriate skills needed to excel in your career. “Study STEM subjects in school, do your research into the different types of engineering roles out there, decide which one(s) interest you the most and seek out any opportunities to gain experience. My door is always open to provide advice and assistance to any budding engineers.”

International Women in Engineering Day was founded in 2013 by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and aims to give a voice to female engineers who are still widely underrepresented within the industry. This year’s theme is #Enhancedbyengineering.

To find out more about International Women in Engineering Day, visit