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Helen Barry

Chief Engineer, MBDA

Has the male-dominated STEM industry embraced diversity and inclusion? Three executives from the defence sector believe it has — although admit there is still more to be achieved.


When you’re in the minority, you do tend to be remembered. If you perform well, people say: ‘Gosh, she was good!’

“STEM is in my blood – my parents were academics, my sister is a vet. At school, maths was always ‘my thing,’ so I decided to do a joint mathematics and physics honours degree at Bristol University.

“I fell into engineering by accident, although I’m really pleased I did. I wasn’t put off by the fact that it’s a male-dominated industry.

“When you’re in the minority, you do tend to be remembered. If you perform well, people say: ‘Gosh, she was good!’, although it can make you feel as though you can’t afford to have an ‘off day’ in front of strangers.

“You need to be resilient, make sure you have a support network when you need it, and strike a balance that allows you to feel confident in your identity.

“I’d recommend a career in STEM. It’s very interesting, rewarding and I’ve learned (and continue to learn) so much. The variety of opportunities available, particularly in engineering, are massive and I’ve found the team spirit to be fabulous. I look back and feel proud of what I’ve achieved.”

MBDA is a global defence business with customers across the world.  We want our teams to reflect the markets and communities in which we operate, and welcome the innovation that different cultures, working styles and backgrounds bring. That is why we’re driving positive change in our recruitment processes, the learning we offer, and our policies and people practices. We are committed to attracting diverse talent by providing a workplace where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential, to feel they belong and are valued.

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