When Gladys Ngetich was told in a meeting, ‘You don’t look like an engineer,’ she went home wondering what an engineer was supposed to look like.
As a research student studying mechanical engineering she has got used to fighting stereotypes and being something of a trailblazer. Studying for a degree in mechanical engineering in Kenya, she was one of eight women in a class of 80.
She says of her first year, “most of the guys in our class thought we would not make it”, but she graduated with a first class degree.
Currently completing her PhD in aerospace engineering at the University of Oxford, she has just won a 2019 Schmidt Science Fellowships to investigate space science technologies that support sustainable development.
Inspired by women like Prof Bell Burnell, she wants to help inspire a new generation of engineers.
“What keeps me going is the fact that someone has to scribe a new path, someone has to start walking to pave the way for someone else,” she says. “I’m hoping there will be a trail of women coming after me – and hoping they won’t have to prove themselves so much.”