It's that time of year again!
International Women in Engineering Day takes place every year on the 23rd June, and this year's theme is 'Shape the World'. How do engineers shape the world and help make our planet a better, safer, more innovative and exciting place to be?
Thinking of this question, I am drawn back to the time I realised I wanted to study Civil Engineering. It wasn't something that I grew up wanting to be, despite engineering running in my family (something that I embarrassingly only found out recently after researching our family tree. And yes, for those that knew me before I married, I am indeed related to a popular removals firm).
A stigma of engineering is that it is a 'dirty' job. Ask a group of schoolchildren what they think engineering is, and they usually say 'fixing engines'. Like them, when researching my degree options at 17, I had no idea it could be so broad, so interesting, and so important. I did Art, Music, Physics and Maths A-Levels, a perfect mixture of the arts and the sciences, suiting a mathematically-based design career. My career's advisor suggested Architecture at first. But no, maths was my forte over design.
Flicking through the prospectus, Civil Engineering jumped out. Wow, I can get a career-based degree, but still have so many options at the end of it. I could design bridges, roads, ports, airports, water treatment plants, railway lines, wind farms, coastal protection schemes. The list is endless. So I embarked on my 5-year degree in Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Bath, completing two work placements (one with Vinci Construction UK in 2005, and the other with Pick Everard in 2006). I graduated in 2008, and have been at Pick Everard ever since.
Yes, my job can be stressful, but I hope that one day, my daughter (pictured with me) and my son, will realise how much of a role model I am to all young women out there who want to take up a career in engineering.
I love Civil Engineering, because we engineers are making a huge difference to the world, every day, but quietly and modestly. We don't do it for the recognition, we do it out of necessity. To ensure people have running water when they turn on their taps. To ensure they can flush their toilets, and not have to worry about where it all goes! To ensure they can get to places they need and want to get to, via roads, rail and air.
Truly, Shaping the World.
**Listen to me talk about my view on how the perception of Women in Engineering has changed at the next CC Live briefing on Friday 26th June at 2pm. Register here https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/7715898064256/WN_KBK0w6IORkSR8viyr64Zdw**
Women (and men) all over the globe can help to raise the profile of women engineers and encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all.