Forresters and Ruth Amos celebrate women in engineering
19 June 2020
Patent and trade mark experts at Forresters in Birmingham are marking International Women in Engineering Day with the help of inspirational inventor Ruth Amos.
International Women in Engineering Day on June 23 celebrates the outstanding achievements of female engineers throughout the world. According to the Women’s Engineering Society only 12% of all engineers in the UK are women. Their findings show that 25% of girls aged 16-18 would consider engineering as a career choice, compared to almost 52% of boys. Also, government research shows that 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female – this is a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses.
However Ruth Amos is working hard to reverse this trend. While she was still at school Ruth designed the StairSteady, which is an aid that supports people with either climbing or going down stairs. She went on to win the 2006 Young Engineer of the Year award in Britain for her idea, and the StairSteady is now being manufactured in the UK, Australia and Canada.
Ruth co-founded the YouTube channel Kids Invent Stuff with fellow inventor Shawn Brown, and in 2017 she launched the #girlswithdrills campaign. Ruth has been working with attorneys at Forresters for a number of years, as she was made aware of the importance of patents from the first stages of the process when she was a pupil at Eckington School, Sheffield.
“It was my first business partner who advised me to look at patents, as my school wanted to enter the StairSteady into a competition,” she said. “I was grateful for his advice, and I always say to people that when they have a good idea they need to look at how they can protect it. To begin with, we worked with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to put a simple patent together. However, when the product developed we knew we needed help from the experts, which is when we contacted Forresters. They gave us the guidance we needed to be able to manufacture the product in the UK and abroad.”
This year’s theme for International Women in Engineering Day is Shape The World, with a number of virtual activities being organised to raise the profile of engineering as a great career choice. Thanks to her Kids Invent Stuff YouTube channel, and the numerous talks she gives at schools, conferences, universities and events across the UK, Ruth is already working hard to inspire the next generation of engineers.
“One of the favourite parts of what I do is talking to people about engineering and inventing,” she said. “Our YouTube channel highlights the exciting and creative side of being an engineer and scientist. Engineering is such a broad subject, but when you talk to youngsters about being an inventor their eyes light up – they know that inventors are into problem solving and being creative.
“Children form a lot of the decisions around what they can and can’t do from an early age. By working with them we are able to encourage their creative side, and show them the possibilities that are out there. Through Kids Invent Stuff we are working with the IPO on their Wallace & Gromit’s Cracking Ideas competition – helping youngsters to learn the importance of getting the credit they deserve for their fantastic creations.”
Ruth said she never set out to be an entrepreneur or an engineer, but having a good support network enabled her to start her own business. “When I look back it can seem like I took on a big project,” she said. “But actually it was a lot of smaller stages, and each one took me a step forward. My next steps are focussed on expansion and growth for the StairSteady, and with Kids Invent Stuff we will carry on inspiring the next generation of engineers and inventors.
“It is a good time to be an inventor, as people can now build prototypes at home thanks to 3D printers, and it is easier to get one-off items to put their creations together. There are some big problems out there that need solving – and it is the next generation that could provide us with the answers and inventions we need to make a difference to people’s lives.”
Emma Johnson, a partner at Forresters, said the firm was proud to work with Ruth on her StairSteady device, which has helped people of all ages with many different conditions. “Ruth is an inspiration to young people and women who are thinking of becoming engineers and inventors,” she said. “At Forresters we are keen to see an increase in the number of female patent holders. International Women in Engineering Day is an opportunity to draw attention to the various careers in engineering for young people, and to celebrate the achievements of female engineers. We are proud to support Ruth with her invention and with the work she is doing to encourage the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs.”
For more information on the range of IP services from Forresters – which itself has five female partners as part of a workforce that’s 58% female – visit www.forresters.co.uk and to find out about the StairSteady go to www.stairsteady.net