17 April 2024 Employee Spotlight, Sustainability, Tech Talks

Empowering Women in STEM: Q&A with Dr Elinor Winrow, Energy Sustainability Product Manager 

In this series of important conversations, we talk to women across SMS about their experiences in STEM. For our next discussion, Dr Elinor Winrow, Energy Sustainability Product Manager at SMS, offers her perspective on the predominantly male-driven STEM field, challenging norms and the steps needed to inspire upcoming generations. 

So Elinor, what initially inspired you to follow a career in STEM?

At the age of 13, I was nominated to participate in a WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) program at Swansea University. The initiative spanned over six Saturday mornings, each dedicated to exploring and different STEM disciplines.  

Prior to engaging in these sessions, my career aspirations were predominantly centred on what I would wear to work, rather than the career itself. I had never considered STEM as a career pathway for me, however, the exposure to the WISE program sparked my curiosity and ignited my passion for Scientific exploration and innovation.  

What is your role within SMS plc?

As an Energy Sustainability Product Manager within the Energy Innovation team at SMS, my role is aimed at advancing sustainable energy solutions. I lead the conception, development, and execution of projects that align SMS’s mission to drive energy sustainability forward. This involves a blend of project management, market analysis, stakeholder collaboration, and innovation strategy.  

Since joining SMS, how has your role within STEM developed?

I initially joined SMS for the opportunity to work on diverse projects spanning different companies and groups within SMS which appealed to my desire for professional growth and learning.   

I was attracted to SMS’s emphasis on innovation and R&D projects which would allow me to explore new ideas and push the boundaries of new technologies. Overall, I saw SMS as the perfect workplace to leverage my skills and make a meaningful contribution to impactful and fast-moving projects. 

Since joining SMS in 2023, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects which have challenged me and allowed me to expand my skill set, deepen my technical knowledge, and grow as a professional. The supportive and collaborative culture at SMS has provided me with exposure to cutting-edge technologies, and a platform to showcase my abilities. SMS’s emphasis on continuous learning and professional development has enabled me to access resources, opportunities, and the support necessary to thrive in the dynamic and fast-paced world of STEM.  

I feel that one of the most significant roles that SMS plays within the STEM industry is our commitment to driving positive change through its innovative solutions and collaborative efforts. SMS is not only addressing the current energy challenges but also paving the way for a more sustainable and efficient energy future.  

I am proud to be a part of SMS because we aid the development and adoption of new energy solutions which help the advancement of the entire STEM ecosystem. 

It’s no secret that STEM is predominantly populated with men, what needs to happen to ensure more women have an opportunity in the same roles?  

To ensure more women pursue careers in STEM, early exposure and mentorship are essential. Educational institutions at every level and industry need to promote inclusive environments that encourage young girls to pursue STEM subjects from an early age. 

Creating initiatives such as outreach programs, mentorship opportunities, and tailored educational resources that challenge gender stereotypes and highlight the relevance and excitement of STEM careers. I believe increasing the visibility of female role models in STEM and promoting their accomplishments would only inspire and empower the next generation of women and help harness the full potential of diverse talents in STEM fields. 

On the topic of the next generation, what advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career in STEM?

I would emphasise the importance of curiosity, perseverance, and seeking mentorship opportunities wherever they can. Seek out different fields for hands-on experience, and always have an open mind as you never know where that experience can take you.  

It’s vital to challenge stereotypes and believe in your own capabilities to excel in any STEM discipline and remember that all the skills and perspectives that you gain along your STEM journey will pave the way for a successful and fulfilling career in STEM. 

And finally, what do you think the future holds for women within the STEM industry?

In recent years there has been significant progress on the status of women within STEM, but as you say there are still challenges to overcome. While more women are pursuing STEM careers than ever before, they continue to face barriers such as gender bias, lack of mentorship opportunities, and unequal access to resources and opportunities.  

It’s great to see initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion are helping to address these challenges and create a more equal environment within the STEM industry. I believe actively promoting diversity and inclusion, investing in mentorship and education, and emphasising the importance of supportive workplaces, can create a more inclusive and equitable STEM industry where women can thrive. 




Committed to a more diverse workforce

At SMS, we’re committed to creating and empowering a workforce and wider society that is diverse, equal and inclusive. Find out more about our progress in this area by reading our latest Sustainability Report.