Female engineer encourages next generation of women

INSPIRING Commander Sophie Shaughnessy with girls from Brune Park School '        Picture: Matthew Hibberd
INSPIRING Commander Sophie Shaughnessy with girls from Brune Park School ' Picture: Matthew Hibberd
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The most senior female engineer in the Royal Navy recently took part in a Dragons Den-style event aimed at encouraging the next generation of enterprising women in Gosport.

The event was hosted by Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage and Jacqueline Gold CBE, who is the CEO of Ann Summers and Knickerbox.

Commander Sophie Shaughnessy, the executive officer of HMS Sultan was among the inspiring mentors and speakers taking part in the event for year 9 girls at Bridgemary School.

She supervised and guided groups of girls on how to formulate a business plan for the local area.

She said: ‘When you get these sort of teams of girls together, they have such inspiring ideas, they are just phenomenal.

‘They respond differently in a dynamic where they are all girls, and they respond well to the mentors and it’s fantastic to see how all these other amazing ladies have talked about their businesses and work and they have all responded really positively to it.

‘I think letting girls know they can be anything that they want to be, that there are no doors closed to them, is critical.

‘While I would clearly love it if they decided to join the Royal Navy, today is really about making sure they all fulfil their potential and that they don’t let anyone tell them they can’t do something.’

One of the pupils who took part was in the ‘Seafix’ team which, under the mentoring of Cdr Shaughnessy, came up with a project for servicing local yachts and small ships.

She said: ‘It’s been quite helpful having a mentor, considering it’s all water and engineering and we have learnt from her about how we can reflect that in our work.

‘The women here have been very inspiring, especially to me as I was quite sure what I wanted to do for a career but now I am not sure.

‘The women here have inspired me that much.

‘I’ve got some ideas now. I think I can go further in life, considering some of them were quite shy and have gone really far.’