Henkel's Denise gets stuck into her engineering work

By Aideen O'Flaherty 

A HENKEL engineer has spoken about her hope that more women will consider pursuing careers in engineering, ahead of International Women in Engineering Day on Saturday, June 23.

Denise Walsh, who is from Rathfarnham and works for Henkel in Tallaght, graduated from Trinity College in 1994 with a degree in mechanical engineering and has worked as an engineer for Henkel since 1997.

Denise Walsh Echo

Engineer Denise Walsh 

Denise was the first female engineer to be hired by the manufacturing division within Henkel Ireland, and in her 21 years with the company she has held a number of positions and currently works as a senior mechanical engineer.

The decision to pursue a career in engineering came about as Denise enjoyed maths at school and had an “analytical mind”, and her father, grandfather and uncles had all worked as engineers.

When asked what a typical day in work is like, Denise told The Echo: “I’m never 100 per cent sure what’s going to land on my desk.

“A lot of my work involves looking at processes and production and trying to find more efficient and effective ways of doing things.”

Engineers typically employ scientific and mathematical skills in order to problem solve, and there is a large range of disciplines in engineering such as chemical, civil, electrical, environmental and agricultural, but this same variety isn’t reflected in the workforce which is still primarily male-dominated.

Denise explained: “Engineering is still very much a male-dominated world, but it’s great to see more women and girls getting involved in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] and I think things like the International Women in Engineering Day helps to raise the profile of women in engineering.

“There needs to be more diversity in the industry, and I think there needs to be more flexibility in terms of [female engineers] having a high-profile job and managing raising a family.”

Denise is optimistic about the future of women in engineering, saying that as a volunteer in the Girl Guides she has noticed that girls are becoming more aware of engineering as they can now attain an engineering badge, and more than 20 years after becoming an engineer Denise still finds something new in her work every day.

“I’m quite happy where I am, because I find it challenging,” Denise said. “I’m always learning something new and applying something different every day.

“Engineering gives you a way of looking at problems and processes, then breaking them down and improving them.”

International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness day, which is under UNESCO patronage, that raises the profile of women who work in the engineering industry.

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