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Put a female engineer on our bank notes, Bank of England told

The decision to choose Sir Winston Churchill to feature on the new £5 note instead of Elizabeth Fry has sparked a backlash from several feminist campaigners, including the Women's Engineering Society (WES).

The move has led to an online petition and a group of 46 MPs and peers asking for the decision to be reviewed.

Dawn Bonfield of WES has also written to the bank's Court of Directors naming three female engineers as contenders. Electrical engineer Caroline Haslett, aviator Amy Johnson, and mathematician Ada Lovelace - considered by some the world's first computer programmer - should all be considered, she says.

Only two women have appeared on modern banknotes since their inception in 1970 - Elizabeth Fry, who first appeared on notes in 2002, and nurse Florence Nightingale, who was on the £10 note from 1975 to 1994.

"The work that women do is being ignored and sidelined," Bonfield told the BBC. "Why have the same white man as usual? Do we want to tell the same stories all the time?"

Bonfield believes that showing strong female role models in this way would send a clear message to the population, and especially to young girls, that it isn't only men who can be successful in technical careers.

Her argument is unquestionable, especially considering the dire skills shortage facing our industry. But will it fall on deaf ears I wonder?

The pessimist in me fears the answer to my question will be 'yes'. But is it a campaign worth backing anyway? Absolutely.

Laura Hopperton

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