Last Saturday marked International Women in Engineering Day, an international awareness campaign launched to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the career wide range of opportunities within the industry. The theme this year is #RaisingTheBar encouraging governmental, educational and industry bodies to profile the work that they are doing to provide opportunities for young women and tackle diversity in the industry.
As Head of Hilson Moran’s Masterplan Energy & Environment (MEE) Group and the Energy Team in our London Sustainability Group, I am passionate about our active involvement in increasing the opportunities for women within the profession. As we all are very aware, engineering and the construction industry globally has a significant lack of women in roles at all levels, not just at entry or board level.
To address the imbalance, we need to start at the bottom to tackle the gender stereotypes that exist for children. Many young people choose their GCSE and A level subjects based on future career prospects so it’s essential that they have a full understanding of the myriad of exciting career prospects within the construction industry which allows them to make an informed decision. It is also our responsibility to be ahead of the game and aware of how our sector is evolving, to give a future insight to tomorrow’s generations.
That is why we are working with the Girls Day School Trust to try and change the future of engineering. We offer full or half-day workshops with school girls designed to dispel any myths about what a typical engineering role looks like and demonstrate the career pathways available. We are also offering visits to our Manchester, London or Farnborough offices to show students the inner workings of an engineering design studio. The students are able to see designs in progress with BIM and VR tech, scripting and parametric modelling, and spend time with a number of our teams to ask questions and understand the flavours of each job.
In addition, we have a team of STEM ambassadors who work closely with Schools, Colleges and Universities and across the country to deliver similar events. We have partnerships with Loughborough University, London South Bank University, University of Nottingham, Newcastle University, Sidney Sussex College (University of Cambridge), University of Aberdeen and University of Dundee and others to keep them updated on changes to the industry and the opportunities for students. We offer a graduate scheme across all offices which is a three to five-year in-house education system. This includes a mentored programme of activities allowing graduates to gain a rounded view of the industry and spend time with different specialists. It helps them evolve their career path in an informed way and understand the importance of cross-disciplinary knowledge.