If you spot an engineer with a doll on one of Rochester’s bridges, they’re not having a play date but are instead taking part in an initiative to inspire primary school children.
The Lottie Tour is an annual event run by the Women’s Engineering Society, when organisations share photographs of Lottie Dolls on site at a range of engineering activities. The aim of the project is to use a STEM-inspired doll to engage primary-age girls in engineering before gender stereotyping sets in.
Claire Saunders, Education Officer at the Rochester Bridge Trust, explained: “When it comes to inspiring young engineers we are very keen to treat boys and girls equally, countering gender stereotyping by not making it an issue with children who won’t know any different. The Lottie Tour is aimed at girls but we believe it’s still a great way to reach out to all children, who will look at Lottie as an engineer before they consider that she is female.”
The Lottie Tour usually takes place in November, but the Women’s Engineering Society has provided personal protective equipment to the Trust on a long-term loan, enabling Lottie to be pictured at key points in the Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project.
Sue Threader, Bridge Clerk (Chief Executive) at the Trust, added: “Within the Rochester Bridge Trust we’re an all-female civil engineering team working alongside other men and women engineers, our aim is for young children to see this doll as another part of that team. It doesn’t matter that she’s a girl or has a particular hair style, the message is that she’s an engineer like the rest of us – and we’re all ordinary people who children can relate to.
“We’ll be photographing her working alongside a range of contractors so we can tell the story of the refurbishment through her eyes.”