Princess Engineer Poster Pack


It seems that you all love princesses and engineers as much as we do!  So much so that we have just passed 50k views of A Hedy Journey!

Due to popular demand, we have made a printable poster pack of our princess engineers available for download from Sellfy

Get Posters Here

Thank you for all your wonderful comments and suggestions about our original post!


Hedy’s Highlights of 2016


As 2016 takes its closing breaths, we learn of the passing of yet another icon, Carrie Fisher.  My Facebook feed is full of pleas to keep David Attenborough safe lest we lose yet another national treasure.  We’ve seen terror attacks, ongoing conflict in Syria, the rise of the political far right, Britain vote to leave the EU and, personally most concerning, the election of Donald Trump as next ruler of the free world.  All is not doom and gloom however and as the world ticks over there has been plenty of good news from the world of women in STEM.  I’ve put together my highlights of the year below, covering both personal and industry arenas.

January – For the first time, NASA’s class of astronauts are 50% female

February – Female engineering entrepreneurs featured by CNN 

March – UNSW Graduate Megan Kline wins 2016 WA CME Outstanding Young Woman in Resources award and is profiled by UNSW

April – Whilst on Yvette’s Grand Tour, we both visited the Falkirk Wheel, a connection point between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal


Having a wheely good time on Yvette’s Grand Tour!

May – Yvette is awarded the 2016 Young Railway Engineer of the Year from the Railway Technical Society of Australasia


Yvette and Antonia with their awards

June – National Women in Engineering Day is celebrated in the UK on 23rd June, featuring the release of a list of the Top 50 Influential Women in Engineering

July – My favourite mathematician Hannah Fry and Dallas Campbell explore the modern aviation industry in a series produced by the BBC ‘City in the Sky


Hannah Fry not posing next to a plane, but rather a Jacquard loom from her show on Ada Lovelace

August – Whilst on my summer holiday we visited Bletchley Park and found out about the amazing women who operated the Bombe machines to find the daily Enigma settings

September – The Paralympics highlight a number of engineering innovations  A special issue of Sports Engineering highlights technology for Disability Sport


October – BHP Billiton sets new goal for 50% of workforce to be women by 2025

November – Book launch for Rules of the Game, a book that explores the world of engineering, resources and construction, from The Blue Collared Woman


December – Largest all-female expedition to Antartica heads off

What are your highlights of 2016, and what do you have planned for 2017?

Graduate Development Day



Last week, I was invited to speak to our graduates at one of their development days about my career journey and talk a little about personal branding.  I don’t have all the answers, by any stretch, but I thought that I’d share with you what I shared with them.

I’m Yvette and I’m a Design Manager with Engineering & Projects.

I’m from Townsville and have a Computer Systems Engineering degree from James Cook.

I had planned to be a software engineer but was convinced to try signalling, under the misapprehension that it had something to do with digital signals processing, which is untrue.  For a year, I worked in QR’s signalling design team, doing circuit drawings, and testing and commissioning on site.  I also had a really great graduate development coordinator.  She has certainly shaped the professional I am today and we’re still friends.  The fact that she owns a property in wine country doesn’t hurt…

At the end of my first year, I moved to Mount Isa to be with my then partner who was working at the copper mine.

I worked in fixed plant maintenance at the lead mine for two years, but then returned to QR National because I missed the intellectual challenge of signalling.  Mount Isa itself really wasn’t that bad, there were a surprising number of beautiful shoe shops but I really found it hard to love my role.

Since my return I’ve been based with the signalling team for most of the past 6 years, in various forms.

For two years, I was a data designer while I completed my postgrad in signalling and telecommunications, then got my CPEng and RPEQ.

Who’s an engineer here?

Who’d like to hear about my CPEng journey or have you all been told enough about that..?

[They had been told HEAPS about it and politely declined…]

When my boss got snapped up by the transition to operations program, I expressed interest in her role, and acted as the manager of the signalling design team for about 9 months.  I also had the chance to participate in the Mentoring Circles, which is where I met Renee [one of the graduate coordinators].

Then, I was seconded to an operational project and have been there since the middle of 2014, up until a few months ago.

As I mentioned, I’m currently acting in a Design Manager role with Engineering & Projects, while the Design Manager I’m replacing is on shared care leave.  But this will end in a few weeks.

Each time I have changed jobs and roles, I’ve been terrified.  Except for when I returned to signalling from the lead mine.  The relief of actually leaving the heat of Mount Isa overshadowed any other feelings I could have had.

This, I think, is a mixture of self doubt and risk aversion.  Why take a gamble if you’ve got something good going on right now?  What if you are actually worse at the new job?  What if you don’t like it as much?

Up until last week, I’d been really focussed on getting my mythical “dream job”.  If I couldn’t get my dream job, then I was staying put.  Paul Huth [Principal Engineer who coordinates graduate engineering rotations] very kindly led me to the conclusion that this was a little bit crazy.

Within reason, most rotation or secondment opportunities will have a little bit of your dream job hiding in there that can be used as preparation for the role you really want.  Communication, people management, scheduling, exposure to particular business processes or assets… it’s all useful in the future.

And if you really do end up doing something that you absolutely hate, then you have learned more about what you need from a role to generate intrinsic satisfaction.  This also goes for working with supervisors that you don’t really gel with.  Even if you hate them, you will have learnt what types of leadership characteristics you don’t want to emulate.

I’m really bad marketing myself the way that’s recommended.  For example, I need to go back to my desk and update my talent profile [which I did, see below].  I don’t have an elevator pitch because I’ve worked on a confidential project for a really long time and can’t talk about my work.

“What have you been up to, Yvette?”

“Um yeah, this and that… How are your projects/kids/goldfish?”

One time I accidentally stole a towel from the end of trip facility because I freaked out when Mike Carter [EVP] talked to me.  I do not recommend this.

However, I do recommend, making the most of the opportunities for developing your elevator pitch in the next session.  (I’m certainly looking forward to getting some well needed tips.)

I really enjoy connection and so I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to network by genuinely just being interested in people.  I’m also reasonably lucky that I’m not too fussed by public speaking so one of the ways I’ve been able to get exposure is by speaking at seminars, technical meetings and conferences.

I’m also involved in the Institute of Railway Signal Engineers and the Railway Technical Society of Australia.  Not only is this positive for the usual reasons – like contacts, leadership experience, technical development, but it also shows people that you are serious about your career; that you are willing to help yourself, in your own time.  And people are far more willing to help those who help themselves, than those who grumble in the corner about the lack of progression but turn up their noses at anything that slightly oversteps the boundaries of the role they are paid to do.

I’m from a small town and my mother, like most of the adults I knew, was always worried about what other people thought.

In your personal life, I’m a massive advocate for embracing the weirdness that is your authentic self.  This is definitely the way to be happy, seriously.

But at work, it turns out my mother is actually right.  Although, I hate to admit it.

You do need to be a touch more savvy when you’re around people who can influence your future.  This is where you’re more the consultancy than the employee.  You’re trying to drum up more business for yourself, rather than just carrying out your tasks and making sure your paypacket is being filled.

Your work personality should be managed with as much care as your instagram account.  In the same way you wouldn’t post unflattering photos of yourself with a massive number of chins, you have to think about what your actions at work say about the type of professional you are.

Your instagram account is still you, and it still allows you to portray who you are.  But it doesn’t expose the shortcomings, at least not unintentionally.

Who do you want to be seen as?

What kind of actions will your stakeholders “loveheart”?

What kind of actions will lead to them wanting to follow you?

There is a lot of leadership stuff, for women especially, that talks about being assertive and leaning in and asking for what you want.

Striking a balance between telling people what you want so that they can help you get there and not tarring your brand by seeming entitled is an incredibly thin line to tread.

And I don’t have an exact solution for that.

But I do know that being mindful of it can only lead to better outcomes.

My cousin, who is a zumba teacher, posted an inspirational quote which said “what other people think of you is none of your business”.

Until we live in a very different kind of world, this is incorrect.

It is your business.

It is your repeat business.

It is your future business.

So if you don’t want to go out of business, it is worth having a think about.


(The photo above is what happened when I made Control Systems grad, Ragnee, take a selfie with me at her Graduate Challenge Presentation, like a proud but embarrassing older relative.)

I also followed this up with an email to the graduate coordinator with some useful networking links, which may also interest you.

Here are the links I promised which may interest some of the graduates:


IRSE Younger Members’ Society:

Also, ask me for a membership form if you’re keen!


Young Transport Professionals Queensland Facebook Group: 


Young Engineers Australia:


Queensland Women in Engineering:


Queensland Women in Finance:


I’m also investigating the UK-based Young Rail Professionals and, amongst other things, organise exchange programs for graduate rotations.  Stay tuned for more info soon!  Fingers crossed!


My favourite Myers Briggs test, mostly because the graphics are really cute.  No idea how our HR professionals feel about its actual content… [I know that some HR professionals, don’t recommend this test for recruitment purposes, but it’s free and as long as you’re not using it to discriminate against people, I feel it isn’t too bad]



We had a discussion about personality tests in the session after mine, which led me to including the 16 Personalities link.  I added my two cents in, mentioning how having a broad indication of my strengths and weaknesses has helped me in figuring out what will make me happy, career wise.  I had often struggled with being motivated enough to care about nitty gritty technical details, and was quite concerned that I found principles testing so monotonous and lonely.  And I’d never understood why I couldn’t ever remember electrical part numbers and yet could still recall the birth dates of my childhood friends.   However, the actual realization that I am extroverted and gain energy from interacting with other people helps explain why I love chatting, group brainstorming and getting stuff done on the spot.


I’m an ENFJ btw.  Here’s a picture of me either saving a village or stealing a baby.


Knowing about yourself also helps you in your interactions with the others around you.  Understanding the differences allows you to better interpret (and predict) other people’s actions and to treat them the way they want to be treated (which may be subtly different to the way YOU would want to be treated in the same situation).


In case you’ve not been paying attention recently, I’ve very much about seeking happiness by being your authentic self.  An extension of this can be seen in my update of my career aspirations on our internal talent profile, finally giving in to the fact that detailed design just doesn’t pick my relay:

I would like to combine my technical engineering skills and my interpersonal and communications experience to act as the interface between our customers and the engineering teams who deliver their solutions.  My ideal role would involve engaging stakeholders to generate requirements for engineering project proposals, and documenting solutions to secure works that utilise our rail engineering expertise.

As always, we would love to know what you think!  What advice would/do you give your graduates?

Do you know your personality type?  Or is MB all BS?

Dressed for Success



The Wagon Whisperer (mech eng, Antonia), was the first to bring my attention to Women In Engineering’s Dress for Success event. I was initially skeptical, mostly because I don’t like being told what to do by other people and that the phrase “dress for success” sets my teeth on edge. Why should women have to dress a certain way to be taken seriously in their workplaces? And who is anyone else to tell me what foodstuff my body most resembles? (In a subsequent conversation Antonia identified herself as a hourglass and decided I was probably a fairy floss – generally round with bumps and stuff in random places, but still pretty sweet!)
But occasionally, very occasionally, I do change my mind. The reality is that women are judged on the way that they look. And I decided that until we conduct job interviews and pay rise discussions using the methodology employed by “reality” television program, The Voice, your appearance will affect your career somewhat. So, I accepted that taking advantage of the advice that is offered is sensible, and not a betrayal to my ideal utopian goals of wearing whatever the heck I want without influencing how others treat me.
There were two sessions on offer, one for recent graduates and students, and one for established professionals. I selected the latter despite being in denial about my ever-increasing age.
Unfortunately, Antonia was unable to make it, but sent graduate Kimmie in her place. Antonia also sent me with instructions to take notes for her. We joked about potential topics of interest:

  • High vis contouring to set off the colour of your shirt
  • How to avoid hardhat hair
    Selecting safety glasses to match your face shape
  • How best to wear men’s pants without looking like you’re wearing men’s pants
  • Are you a Summer or a Summer? (Summer is the only choice in the Central Queensland coal area)



I arrived a little early, just as the first session was finishing up. The ladies were being addressed by David Jones Stylist, Melody, who just oozed professional style. She actually reminded me a lot of Madame Fleuri from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Their pearls of wisdom are almost indistinguishable!

“The most flattering garment you can ever wear is a suit.” – Melody the Stylist
“You can be married OR buried in a quality suit.” – Madame Fleuri

The Suit Look on Site

Melody recommended trying to keep a “suit look” as much as possible when on site by trying to wear a blazer or a tailored jacket and dark denim jeans. The Trenery chino/jean hybrid was suggested, but I wondered how the fabric composition would affect the safety of the garment.


I suppose it depends on what type of site work one is engaging in and whether not having fire retardant clothing is going to be an issue.
You can also get the pockets of your pants sewn shut to improve the way they sit (but decrease the functionality). It depends where your priorities (and lipgloss) are…

Just as an aside, if you are ever around high voltage switching or somewhere where arc flash could occur, DO NOT wear an underwire bra! This is not usually listed as a safety precaution because the patriachy probably hasn’t considered it because it doesn’t affect them, but if you are caught in an explosion wearing extra metal around your boobs, you will end up with extra metal melted into your boobs. This is probably something to avoid. These are on my shopping list for next site visit.


The Power of Red

One of the ladies posed a question about a “f*ck off” power outfit. Melody said to wear anything with red in it – a red top with a suit or a white shirt with a red scarf or red lipstick.
“It’s funny how red lipstick can make you feel powerful.” – Melody the Stylist
I have never agreed with anything more in my life!

Skirts with Stockings/Pantyhose

Another question from the first group of fashionistas was about the best pieces to wear as a petite woman. The answer was skirts with nude stockings and shoes. Having legs of a different shade to the skirt helps to divide the body more into threes (head and torso, skirt, legs), so the more distinction the better the effect in making you seem more well proportioned. (Apparently, I have been making myself even more dumpier with black stockings for the last 10 years of my life. I think I need to buy some nude shoes!)
After some networking, fancy Schweppes softdrinks and antipasto, we began to discuss skirts again.  Melody’s advice was to wear skirts as much as possible because they give the aura of formality more so than pants, which are really for functionality and comfort. And that one should never go to an interview without wearing stockings and without a spare pair in your handbag.
The length of the skirt should be at the centre of the kneecap or a little lower if you are trying to accentuate the awesome slimness of your calves.
Another popular skirt style that was highlighted, especially for more curvaceous ladies, was the Anthea Crawford horizontally stripy stretchy skirt, which is super comfortable and very flattering.



“Makeup is the most important tool for power.” – Melody the Stylist
You don’t want to look like a Kardashian, apparently, but you want to look groomed and fresh.

Intimate Apparel

“The most important thing you can own in your wardrobe is sensible underwear.” – Melody the Stylist
Melody went on to clarify that she didn’t mean the dreaded Bridget Jonesesque shapewear but proper high-waisted cotton briefs like Jockey or Bonds, with coverage to avoid unsightly lines.
This is some really basic but sensible advice, especially for working on site or in the tropics.
On a related note, a change that I personally made in the past few years was switching to stockings from pantyhose. This has greatly improved my life from a women’s health point of view and you can really get a lot of bonus confidence from knowing that you’re wearing kick ass suspenders under your power dress! I recommend to all!

Another engineeress complained that button up shirts always revealed her underwear. Melody’s advice was to take the offending garment to the fitters in the Intimate Apparel department and that they would be able to match the underwear to the shirt.


How to Dress for Summer Without Wearing Too Little


Tips for surviving the commute to work in Summer without showing too much skin include:

  • Wearing a short sleeved top which can be handwashed and dries quickly (pictured above)
  • Choosing shoes that are only half enclosed
  • Selecting clothes made of natural fibers
  • Leaving a suit jacket at work that can be put on when clients turn up


Jacket Tailoring

In the way that women come in all shapes and sizes, so too do quality suit jackets, we were told. One wants to select a jacket which fits across the shoulders without pulling and that drapes down at the arms, without sticking out.
The length of the jacket is also important. The bottom of the jacket should sit somewhere between the hipbones and the knuckles (when the arms are at rest) and the top button should be below the bust. It seems obvious that some jackets look better than others, but unless you’ve tried different lengths, it is difficult to tell if you really have selected the winner or not.
A jacket with details and cinching at the wait will improve and accentuate the wearer’s waist, if it is located at the correct height.
Another tip was not to unpick the pockets of a jacket unless you absolutely require the functionality. A lot of the time, the sewn pocket will improve the way the jacket falls and as the ex-Hugo Boss now floor sales manager co-presenting with Melody lamented, “they are never the same again” after a pocket is unpicked.


Quality suits in the “lower” price range like Veronika Maine and Perri Cutten are generally made of synthetic fibres and can be handwashed. Higher end ones, like Hugo Boss, will be 100% wool and will breathe infinitely more. Another amazing fact which I definitely did no know was that 100% wool suits are only meant to be dry cleaned once every 6 months! In between, just hang it in the bathroom while you shower to give it a bit of a steam clean, sponge out any lunch crumbs and hang where there is a breeze. And when you are dry cleaning, make sure that all the pieces are cleaned together so that they don’t fade at different rates.
Boss and Saba produce suit pieces of the same fabric year after year, so if you have made a (massive) investment in one of these suits, you can add a piece later that will match.

In Conclusion

As much as I was enjoying the session and learning lots of practical and fascinating fashion facts, we snuck out a little early from the presentation because I had a dance class but Melody caught me and gave me her card. It turns out that personal shopping at DJs is a complimentary service and I could make an appointment to come back any time and have Melody dress me properly. Now just to save up for a Boss suit…

As my brother always says, especially when commenting on my credit card debt, this is advice of a general nature and not all products will suit everyone.
Some of us take great pride and joy in selecting outfits which convey our personalities. I, for example, began work in the city with a look I called “eccentric librarian” but now have headed towards the bright bubbliness of “rockabilly corporate” (see photos below). This is definitely a reflection of how I have changed as a person and I love dressing up to express myself this way (I also love taking selfies, evidently).

However, some of us don’t actually care about fashion, and are really just trying not to draw too much negative attention to ourselves while not being too uncomfortable. If this is you, follow Melody’s guidelines and you’ll never go wrong.

But, if you do rock your own look and love it, keep on doing what you’re doing! Because you’ll always look fabulous wearing clothes you love with a confident smile! Saccharinely sentimental but totally true!

Also, a big thank you to Women in Engineering Queensland for organising such an awesome event and generally being so lovely and welcoming!


Let’s Talk – Day 5



This week is National Women’s Health Week.  Their slogan is “Let’s talk!” and their logo is a delightful pink elephant in the room.  This week, I’m getting us talking about periods with an engineering spin.   Have a look at yesterday’s post to get up to speed.


We will continue to use the Engineering Hierarchy of Controls to examine this topic each day of this week.


Just a note that some of the health and medical things discussed here aren’t the right solution for every one and your doctor might have some really good reasons why it won’t work for you (like, you might have a stroke), so treat this information as if it were a casual gossip with a girlfriend and not tailored medical advice.


Today we’re up to Personal Protective Equipment.


Personal Protective Equipment


Interestingly, I was introduced to the concept of the Lily Cup by a male engineer who was surprised that I hadn’t realised they were made of flexible material.  (The one doco I’d seen featuring one, made me think it was like one of those cheap plastic medicine cups.  Those edges!  No thanks!)  But, now I know they’re made of comfortable medical grade silicone, I’ve found them LIFE CHANGING!  If the idea doesn’t make you squirm, it’s an awesome way of saving money and the environment, and not dealing with external protection methods (see Day 2), which personally make me squirm.


I just used my own woman’s intuition to decide that Lily Cup was the best choice financially.  But knowing that you ladies are the empirical, evidenced-based kind, I did some calcs.  And it turns out that based on my previous consumption of consumable feminine hygiene products (one pack of tampons and half a pack of pads a month) the paypack period for the Lily Cup is only 5 cycles.  And the net present value over 18 months is a whopping $224!


So as I tell every woman of reproductive capacity that I meet, Lily Cups are the best thing ever!


Your white knickers, the environment and your wallet, protected!



We hope you enjoyed National Women’s Health Week and that you learned something new, started a conversation you wouldn’t otherwise have had, or just liked looking at pink cartoon elephants that weren’t the nightmarish Disney hallucination kind!


As always, we’d love to hear what you think about this or any other issues faced by women and/or engineers so “Let’s talk!”


Let’s Talk – Day 4




This week is National Women’s Health Week.  Their slogan is “Let’s talk!” and their logo is a delightful pink elephant in the room.  This week, I’m getting us talking about periods with an engineering spin.   Have a look at yesterday’s post to get up to speed.


We will continue to use the Engineering Hierarchy of Controls to examine this topic each day of this week.


Just a note that some of the health and medical things discussed here aren’t the right solution for every one and your doctor might have some really good reasons why it won’t work for you (like, you might have a stroke), so treat this information as if it were a casual gossip with a girlfriend and not tailored medical advice.


Today we’re up to Administrative Controls.


Administrative Controls


If you have ever met with me, chances are it was scheduled as an event in my calendar.  Everything is in my calendar.  And I mean everything.  There is a four-weekly repeating event marked as “EOM” for End of Month so I know when I’m likely to not feel crash hot.  With this information, I can manage my life (to a certain extent) so that I’m not doing highly stressful, high stakes or physically demanding stuff when I’m cramping, bloated or could have an emotional response range anywhere between an overtired toddler and The Queen of Hearts.




The most significant professional memory I have of avoiding scheduling something on a Red Letter Day was when I was booking my CPEng interview.  I was offered 9am on the first day of my period or 11am the following week.  I chose the latter, specifically because I thought I would feel better and hence perform better.  I was incredibly relaxed, gave my presentation without a hitch, answered all of the questions, ethical and technical, and was granted my CPEng.


Is this sneaky and selfish?  I don’t know… but I think I’m going to continue to do this sort of thing anyway.  What do you think?  Do you even give it a second thought?


I want the best outcomes for myself, my company and my clients.  So I’m going to continue to give myself all the advantages I can by making sure that I’m in the best state I possibly can be when doing the hardest stuff.


Cycle times administrated!


Tomorrow, is the last level of the hierarchy of controls and we’re looking at Personal Protective Equipment.

Let’s Talk – Day 3



This week is National Women’s Health Week.  Their slogan is “Let’s talk!” and their logo is a delightful pink elephant in the room.  This week, I’m getting us talking about periods with an engineering spin.   Have a look at yesterday’s post to get up to speed.
We will continue to use the Engineering Hierarchy of Controls to examine this topic each day of this week.
Just a note that some of the health and medical things discussed here aren’t the right solution for every one and your doctor might have some really good reasons why it won’t work for you (like, you might have a stroke), so treat this information as if it were a casual gossip with a girlfriend and not tailored medical advice.
Today we’re up to Engineering Controls.
Engineering Controls
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to contact the original designer of the human female for comment on the design and any improvements that could be incorporated in later releases but I’ve heard that the original requirements had indicated that the body would receive the level of nutrition that would delay menarche to about 15 (not 11 as I experienced) and that the reproductive years would be spent either pregnant or breastfeeding (with no mention of taking over the world).
In terms of consequence, let’s say that a period is between a 1 (illness or injury not requiring medical treatment) and a 2 (minor illness/injury requirement medical treatment).
And your original designed likelihood was a 3 (once in the next 2 to 10 years), but its now a actually a 5 (>10 times a year).
You’ve actually gone from a risk score of 3-6 to 5-10.
But we’re well out of the defects liability period so we’ll have to make do with some of these technology/medicine related controls:
  • Taking hormone based contraceptives that make symptoms less severe
  • Taking preventative painkillers – but proceed with caution!  The last time I actually followed the directions on Naprogesic to take it preventively rather than reactively, I had an allergic reaction which caused my tongue and throat to swell.  (Note that I’m pretty much allergic to life but I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else.  We have too few female engineers as it is without accidentally killing them off!)
  • Smart tampons – check out this article 
  • Tracking apps and devices
  • Stick on heat pads that you can wear under your clothes
“That time of the month” engineered!
Tomorrow, we’re looking at Administrative Controls.