Dorothy Hatfield

In 1956 Dorothy became the first female indentured engineering apprentice with Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) eLtd at Brooklands She completed a six year apprenticeship and graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering. On completion of her training she worked for several years in the environmental control design group until pregnancy led, as was then, almost inevitable to her resignation. She took a career break of 8 years to bring up a family prior to returning to the aero industry.

When the time came to think about returning Dorothy managed to find a flexible, part time job as a Technical Author in the Flight Simulation industry. This led to becoming a Sales Engineer for the same company. Her next move was to a Software House where she became Manager of the Science and Engineering section. Return to the Flight Simulation company as Pricing Manager ended in redundancy and after a time freelancing on a variety of jobs, including managing the Daphne Jackson Trust, she joined another Flight Simulation company as Contracts Manager, This led to a period managing the engineering department with a sister company manufacturing aircraft parts and to being one of the team which successfully negotiated a major PFI contract with the MOD.

Dorothy joined the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) in 1962 and held many executive and honorary positions (President, Vice President, Honorary Treasurer, Honorary Secretary) over the years. She was involved with several other organisations that support women in engineering and are concerned with the gender equality agenda, often providing individual personal support.

As WES President, and in her other executive roles, she was involved in many initiatives over the years and was instrumental in the setting up and early running of the Daphne Jackson Trust which was set up in memory of Daphne, Professor of Physics at Surrey University, to arrange and administer research fellowships enabling men & women to return to a career in Science, Engineering or Technology after a career break for any family reasons. She was chairman of the awards committee who screen 18-20 applications per year and a member of the council.

Lady Finniston Awards were set up by Sir Monty Finniston to provide moral and financial support to first year female engineering students, These are girls who cannot support themselves or have no family support. Dorothy worked with Sir Monty in 1990 to set up the award scheme and has been involved since in selection and achieving funding.

On behalf of WES she also supported various government initiatives over the years, such as the WISE campaign (Women into Science & Engineering), the IET’s National Electronics Council, the United Kingdom Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering & Technology, DTI initiatives connected with women in SET and The Council of Women’s Organisations which brings together women’s organisations. In addition to the above she has sought to make a difference to people’s perceptions of engineering by talking to schools and attending career fairs as WES Ambassador, mentoring individual students through to a career position and also by giving inspirational radio interviews where she shared her passion for engineering. Her other contributions to media included membership of WES editorial board. On the international stage she was involved in setting up INWES and in ICWES IX international conference in 1991.

Dorothy joined the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) in 1956 and became a Fellow in 1996. She was awarded Women’s Engineering Society’s Isabel Hardwich Medal in 2007 for Services & Dedication to the Society and received Life Membership of WES in 2010.

Dorothy received an OBE for her services to engineering in June 2014.