The AMRC at 20: Fourth generation engineer Mary leads the way for women

Mary Stickland is a newly-qualified engineering thoroughbred - but it nearly didn’t happen.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 9:16 am

Her great-grandfather worked on steam trains, her 91-year-old grandfather at Templeborough rolling mills in Rotherham and her Dad started at British Steel before becoming a control systems engineer, working in several industries.

Mary was always fixing things and and had the urge to understand why they were broken rather than throw them away. But due to a lack of opportunities and support she took ‘A’ levels which left her unfulfilled.

This article is from a supplement to celebrate 20 years of the AMRC. Read: Making the Future

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Mary Stickland at Pryor Marking Technology. Picture: Chris Etchells.
Mary Stickland at Pryor Marking Technology. Picture: Chris Etchells.

And then she found the AMRC Training Centre.

She said: “That’s when I say my life begins.”

That was three years ago. Today, she is a qualified mechanical maintenance engineer at Pryor Marking Technology in Sheffield, following an apprenticeship delivered by the AMRC Training Centre.

Along the way, she won the centre’s first Siddall Achievement Award and a trip of a lifetime touring Boeing factories in Portland and Seattle. Now she hopes to take a degree.

Siddall Achievement winners Mary Stickland and Craig Horton with the University of Washington’s EcoCar.

If her career was a machine it would be ticking over nicely. But more important is how she feels.

Mary, aged 24, from Rotherham, said: “With hindsight I wanted to be an engineer from when I was four years old. This is why I’m so happy with my AMRC apprenticeship.

“I’m proud to be the fourth generation and follow in my family’s footsteps. My dad and grandfather are ecstatic. I grew up with woodwork and motorbikes, which not every woman has. But any woman interested in engineering today has a lot more choice of what to do.”

The AMRC was a ‘massive advocate’ of women in engineering and there was ‘no sexism’ at Pryor, she added.

Making the Future celebrates 20 years of the AMRC.

“It’s still a man’s world. A lot of women are worried about going into engineering but the more women who do, the more normal it becomes.

“It’s hard to make that change and people are shocked by my choice. I have had some women come up to me and ask how I got into it. I’d like to think it would be 50-50 one day. But I also look at my grandfather’s generation and see how much progress has been made.”

Of course, breeding doesn’t guarantee ability - and gender not at all.

Mary’s older brother Joe, aged 27, is studying law and is a decent sportsman. But engineering just isn’t his thing.

In the cockpit of a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird in the Museum of Flight, Seattle. During the America trip for the Siddall Achievement Award.

Mary added: “We all have a bit of a laugh about it. Give him some IKEA furniture to put together and he wouldn’t have a clue.”

Read Making the Future a supplement to celebrate 20 years of the AMRC.