To mark International Women’s Day, CompEx spoke with two female CompEx course instructors in Scotland – Amy and Danielle – to hear about their experiences pursuing a career in a male dominated industry.

Danielle, or Danni as she prefers to be called, was actually the first woman globally to qualify as a CompEx trainer and assessor, whilst Amy was the third. Though at different times, they both followed a similar path studying Maths, Physics and Chemistry to a higher level, working at the ICI/CalaChem and even both undertaking CompEx qualifications Ex01-04 and Ex05-06 whilst there.

As for the courses they instruct now, whilst they both teach Ex Fundamentals and Ex01-Ex04 Gas and Vapours (for technicians working in hazardous locations where gases or vapours form explosive atmospheres) at Forth Valley college, Danni’s extensive experience means she also teaches Ex05&Ex06 Dust, (for technicians working in hazardous locations where combustible dust, fibres or flyings form explosive atmospheres) Ex11, Ex12 and Ex14. Amy shared that she’s currently preparing to run Ex05-06 and Ex11, and in future looking to pick up the rest of courses that Danni teaches too.

When asked if either of them had encountered many other women on CompEx courses, both admitted that it’s a rare occurrence, though Danni does mention that it’s more common to see women taking Ex12&14, which is designed for application design engineers.

Prompted about their experiences as women themselves in the field, Amy recalls: I was the only female apprentice at CalaChem when I started and then the only female tradesperson when I qualified. I found there were challenges at the beginning and incorrect opinions and doubts but once I started those opinions changed to positive ones.

“I think unfortunately as a woman you do have to prove yourself more than a man would in these environments, but I was up for the challenge.”

Danni, who has become something of a role model for women in engineering, said: I was one of the first female technicians employed at ICI, there was at the start challenges with regards to acceptance from peers etc.

“However, in my experience I found that hard work, a rather outgoing personality, and dedication to the job at hand, tended to alleviate any wrongful expectations or doubts the team may have initially had.”

Both Amy and Danni found themselves drawn to their current roles through a passion for teaching and training that they discovered during their time in industry. It’s a passion that has translated into a deep commitment to their work and the courses that they look after.

Amy, for example, added that “anyone who works within a hazardous environment should at least be trained to ExF (Ex Fundamentals) level – no matter their job role.” Whilst Danni explains how she nowadays prides herself on “delivering the highest quality of education and understanding to each candidate.”

Now teaching at Forth Valley College in Falkirk Scotland, Amy and Danni spend their time sharing their industry knowledge with candidates from across a wide range of industries. A daily inspiration to many, both were asked to reflect on their ability to inspire other women in particular.

Danni shared: “I don’t tend to look at the workforce as male or female, I look at everyone as an equal who has an ability to do a job well – everyone brings a different skill set to the workplace regardless of their gender.

But, I have previously gone to schools and delivered presentations on women in engineering, if I have inspired women to join this industry, I would take it as a compliment

Amy, meanwhile, thought of her little sister. “If any woman sees my journey as something to aspire towards then I would be flattered, I have a 10-year-old sister who thinks it’s so cool that her big sister worked with electricity.

“I want her to know that there is nothing stopping her if that is a route she decides to go down.”

For find out more about CompEx qualifications, including Ex Fundamentals and the other courses Amy and Danni teach on, visit: