She even wrote the airport a letter “on fancy paper and the entirety”, giving her cope with and asking them to ship more planes beyond her residence.
The eldest of four youngsters, Khadijah cherished maths and were given a scholarship to a quite academic non-public day college.
Her mom and dad was hoping she would be the first inside the family with a college diploma.
At sixteen she won a prestigious Arkwright Engineering Scholarship and positioned the award, of numerous hundred kilos, in the direction of shopping for a robotic for her school.
But her A-level alternatives left her parents confused.
For Khadijah, maths and physics have been no-brainers, but she desperately wanted to do A-stage electronics, which turned into no longer provided at her all-women school.
The only option was to emerge as the handiest girl doing electronics at the men’ school round the corner.
Her mother and father feared she wouldn’t thrive in an all-male environment, but she talked them spherical via explaining that no other A-level subject “was calling out to me”.
Only some hundred college students take A-degree electronics each 12 months, commonly about five% of them girls, and from this 12 months best one board will offer it.
‘Boys’ armpit smell’
The boys’ school was a shock: “I should simply odor boys’ armpit scent, without a doubt, simply really the primary thing I do not forget.
“They stare at you because you are specific. You’re now not a boy. You wear a headband.”
Khadijah’s confidence took a dive: “I changed into thinking in my head: ‘Do I say that? Do I now not say that? Will I appearance stupid?’
“I didn’t have the self belief on the start to talk in magnificence and make contributions usefully, or even for my own gain, ask questions to assist me understand.”
But “as quickly as I got caught in and absolutely concerned, I changed into like: ‘Wow that is incredible,'” and her enthusiasm carried her thru.
Why are there so few lady engineers?
How a stigma places women off engineering
Khadijah become provided places at top universities however, alternatively, applied for a 5-year diploma apprenticeship in aerospace engineering with BAE Systems.
There had been more discussions along with her mother and father.
“I defined that I’m nevertheless getting a diploma with this diploma apprenticeship. I’m simply getting greater realistic enjoy as properly.”
In the stop her mum now not simplest helped with the application but, when Khadijah got the activity but failed her driving take a look at twice, she drove her 50 mins every manner, each day, to the education centre at Samlesbury in Lancashire.
She turned into the most effective woman in her faculty that yr to take an apprenticeship.
Ending the stereotype
Overall, only eight% of UK engineering apprentices are woman, although BAE itself plays higher, with 26%.
BAE also wishes more apprentices from black and minority ethnic corporations however up to now they make up only approximately 4% of the overall.
“My mum wishes me to be a pioneer – so as to put on a headband and be confident wearing it, and be a function version for any Muslim woman that is scared to take engineering.”
Now 20, Khadijah is in her 2d 12 months, and has handed her using test.
She usually brings her scarf to work however does not constantly wear it, even though “it’s a part of my identification.”
She believes boosting range in engineering will have huge benefits: “Different varieties of human beings have special styles of thinking… Having a distinct way to method some thing is beneficial.”
She herself offers up her unfastened time to paintings with The Smallpeice Trust, which runs the Arkwright Engineering Scholarships, to give talks in faculties and mentor teenagers with engineering capability.
Smallpeice Chief Executive Dr Kevin P Stenson says human beings like Khadijah are critical to finishing the stereotype that engineering is for boys.
“There is a huge shortage of engineers in the UK… We consequently need to recruit as many humans as we can which means that you need to recruit from 100% of the population.
“Female college students, nation college youngsters, black and minority ethnic college students, they are all underneath-represented, and engineering is for all and sundry inside the UK, so we’ve got to expose and replicate that during our programmes.”
For the past 4 months Khadijah has been seconded to Prismatic in Hampshire, hundreds of miles from home, a part of a crew collaborating with BAE Systems on a excessive-altitude, lengthy-patience, solar-powered communications drone.
“It’s got the capability to live up within the stratosphere for one complete year with out ever touchdown,” she explains.
“The massive element about it is it’s cheaper than an aircraft and cheaper than a satellite and it’s very mild, which is why it’s this type of massive deal and that is really the future of unmanned aerial automobiles.”