An interview with Emily Harford

Name: Emily Harford

Current Job: Principal Engineer in the Office of the Chief Engineer, UKAEA

Scientific Discipline/Field: Nuclear Fusion Research/Engineering Governance

Country: United Kingdom

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q,+, etc.): L

Twitter or other social media handle: @GayRollerCEng

What does your job involve?

I make sure that the engineering that other engineers (and sometimes physicists) try to do is good engineering. I work with the Chief Engineer and engineering authorities to set standards for excellence, best practice, and ethical behaviour. We are also sources of specialist knowledge for consultation, and produce policies for technical control, asset management, etc.

It’s best not to aggravate me because thorough can become petty, and I am the gatekeeper now.

How did you get to this job (education etc.)?

I did maths, physics, and chemistry at A-level, that didn’t go brilliantly, so I did a foundation year in science and engineering at Loughborough University. I stayed on for BEng(hons) in Mechanical Engineering and then an MSc in Engineering Design. Then I worked in a range of specialist and highly regulated fields for 10 years. I’ve worked in industrial electrical switchgear, medical implant design, commercial aerospace and fusion research.

Then I got my current job.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

I went back in the closet for my entire first job, I was cautious at my second. It kept me from making friends at work, because I tended not to trust people not to out me or use it against me.

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

Nothing overtly negative. Lots of people at my current employer just being cool and normal about it. Nice and supportive bunch.

Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated.)?

It’s a bit cliche, but my mum was an incredible woman.

What are your plans for the future?

This is currently Fog of War.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I put my favourite quote for a WiN event as “Good luck and don’t fuck it up – Rupaul Charles” in a draft, and never got around to changing it, so it got printed/circulated as was.

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