Comment: Addressing the gender balance in engineering

05/07/2018

Carol Geddes is an operations manager in the transportation team at engineering, environment and design consultancy Sweco UK, based in Edinburgh. In this article she discusses how to achieve a better gender balance in engineering.

When I left school at 16 I had a very stereotypical view of the engineering industry. The male-dominated nature of the teaching of STEM subjects didn’t help, but the fact that job prospects for women in engineering simply weren’t discussed was the biggest factor.

With little information available, my decision to go into engineering was based on my love for maths and science and my own careers research. And, despite knowing that engineering was for me, my journey into the industry wasn’t straightforward. It took more exposure to the industry, via a year of studying for a HNC in electrical engineering, for me to discover how broad the career options were and that civils was where I wanted to focus.

At university I was still one of only four women out of 40 on my course and when I took up my first job after graduating in 2001, there were just a few women in the office.

Any one of those factors alone could have been a big turn off and I fear that over the years the industry will have lost a lot of potential talent as a result.

If I’ve learned anything from my entry into the industry it’s that we have to communicate the diversity of opportunity that engineering offers to as young a generation as possible. If we don’t get that across, we will lose hearts and minds early on.

Of course, a lot has changed since I was a student, largely due to the huge volume of promotional activity – especially at school and university level – designed to inspire young women to choose a career in engineering. I see this first-hand, not only working for a business with a female global CEO, but also in the increasing number of prospective female engineers I meet while representing Sweco at university events.

Sweco’s own intake of female engineers increased to 40% in 2017, up from just 11% in 2015. We’re continuing to encourage more females to apply for a range of opportunities in our business and are proud to now have 80 STEM ambassadors.

Clients, particularly in the highways sector, are also doing their bit by mandating that suppliers have proactive diversity policies in place and are engaging with STEM outreach initiatives, as part of the tendering process - all of which is effective.

What we need more of is to accompany initiatives which are designed to boost engagement with STEM subjects, with efforts to showcase strong female role models in a variety of engineering jobs.

While working on prominent highways schemes from the M80 to the Queensferry Crossing, I’ve worked alongside environmental analysts, geologists, and project managers. If we can show young girls the wide range of career options open to them, we have a much better chance of maintaining their interest throughout their studies and into employment.

Highways jobs

Fire Safety Contract Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£40,028 to £46,431
We are currently seeking an experienced Fire Safety Contract Manager to lead and co-ordinate activities and to ensure that the service is managed Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Pest Control Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£27,093 to £29,188
As a Pest Control Officer within Environmental Health, Business and Consumer Services your focus will be to deliver pest control treatments Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Waste Prevention Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£35,913 - £41,657
We now have an exciting opportunity for a talented and enthusiastic individual to join us and be part of a team tottenham
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Waste Prevention Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£35,913 - £41,657
We now have an exciting opportunity for a talented and enthusiastic individual to join us and be part of a team developing a new vision Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Operations Manager – Waste and Recycling

Bath & North East Somerset Council
£38,052- £40,858.
This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced waste management professional Bath, Somerset
Recuriter: Bath & North East Somerset Council

HGV Driver/Loader

Torridge District Council
£18,070 - £20,138
DRIVER/LOADER (HGV) Driving and loading a refuse/recycling collection vehicle up to 26 tonne gross weight, you will collect recycling or household ... Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Principal Transport Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£37,320 to £40,198
The role will require close dialogue with developers and their agents and necessitate strong partnership working with District Councils... Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Senior Engineer – Traffic and Road Safety

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Trainee Technician – Active and Sustainable Travel

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,667 - £22,424 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Parking

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for the delivery of parking engineering design and implementation of schemes across the borough Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Highway Maintenance/Asset Management

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for highway asset management, reactive and planned highway maintenance, highway safety and structural surveys and inspections. Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Trainee Technician – Projects

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,667 - £22,424 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Flood Management/Civil Engineering

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To provide expert advice on highway and land drainage, flood risk management, sustainable drainage, highway structures and bridges... Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Development Control

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for assisting and supporting the operational delivery of the Council’s highways development control function and to assist the lead Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer – Projects

Redbridge London Borough Council
£30,930 - £32,638 per annum
To assist with the delivery of highway and land drainage, flood risk management, sustainable drainage, highway structures and bridges... Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer – Parking

Redbridge London Borough Council
£30,930 - £32,638 per annum
To assist with the delivery of parking engineering design and implementation of schemes across the borough Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer (Bridges)

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
You will have experience in the development, planning, design and implementation of transport infrastructure and related projects Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Pest Control Officer

Brent Council
£25,746 - £27,342 p.a. inc.
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Streetworks Officer

Westminster City Council
£32,592 - £41,601
As Streetworks Officer you will be a member of the permitting and streetworks team City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council

Vehicle Mechanic

Rugby Borough Council
£23,866 - £28,221 (£28,703 - £33,941 pro rata for 44.5 hours per week)
The post holder will ideally be qualified to undertake taxi compliance testing, preparation for MOT testing from Class 4 and 7. Rugby, Warwickshire
Recuriter: Rugby Borough Council

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Tag Cloud

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue
  • DfT meets the data challenge
  • The procurement problem
  • Cold Comfort special

 

View the latest issue

Latest Video