International Women in Engineering Day 2017 – why did you choose a career in engineering?
By Rachel May
Women make up less than 10% of the engineering sector in the UK. With a large skills shortage looming and the additional need to diversify the workforce, it has never been more important to inspire and encourage people, especially women, to choose a career in engineering.
Therefore, in support of International Women in Engineering Day 2017 (INWED17), we asked some of our brilliant women from different disciplines to tell us how and why they chose their careers:
Sarah Matthews, Equity Director – Transport Planning and Engineering:
I was once a (rebellious/stubborn) teenage girl and my Dad said “don’t do Civil Engineering”, so I did!
Natalie Maletras, Associate – Environment, Energy and Infrastructure:
I did a fairly broad Environmental Science degree at university to begin with, and had no clear career path (or aspirations!) ahead of me. But thankfully I decided to do a year out and managed to get a placement within the Waste Management Industry. My line manager for that placement was Andy Doran (now Sustainability & Recycling Development Manager for Novelis Europe). His passion and enthusiasm for resource management and general approach to team-working made him a great mentor and a real inspiration. 20 years on, he still is!
Claire Whitehouse, Associate – Transport:
I went to an all-girls school but in the sixth form it merged with a boys’ school. A lot of the other girls' career choices were English language/French/history and a bit of science but the boys were encouraged to be a bit more vocational (e.g. economics or maths) and they seemed to be more overtly encouraged to pursue a career. Luckily, I decided to do an extra-curricular project looking at a refurbishment of a grade II listed house, which concluded in a report. Following that I decided to go for a degree at Coventry University in Building Management. Post-university, I went to work for Oxfordshire county council designing traffic calming schemes.
Both that project, my university course, and the jobs I have had since have always been about seeing a tangible outcome. You can really see that you have made a difference to projects, communities, initiatives – people's lives. It’s really rewarding.
Janice Smith, Senior Associate – Structural Engineering:
I enjoyed, science, maths and management in school and I wanted to choose a vocational degree. I was invited to a ‘Girls Science and Engineering’ event and my careers advisor recommended engineering or quantity surveying. I completed a degree in Civils and Transportation Engineering but left University with an interest in building structures. Since graduation I have been involved in civil and structural engineering. I enjoy what I do as it is so varied, from carrying out detailed design calculations, managing teams, programmes, and costs on projects, attending sites, and working with clients and design teams to solve problems and co-ordinate designs.
If I had to choose, dealing with the wider team to carry our feasibility, co-ordination and resolving site issues is my favourite part of being an engineer.
Helen Evriviades, Associate – Ecology
My inspiration was the lovely David Attenborough and a book called Ecology that I picked up in the Natural History Museum aged about 11. Working for an engineering firm was just a happy accident! Atkins was the first to take a chance on a budding graduate ecologist!
International Women in Engineering Day returns on 23 June around the world for its fourth year running. Set up in 2014 by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) to celebrate its 95th anniversary, this national, and now international, awareness day focuses attention on the amazing careers in engineering and technical roles, especially for girls and young women, and celebrates the achievements of women engineers.