Agenda: More effort still needed to encourage women into engineering

·3-min read
Gillian Ogilvie, Managing Director for Will Rudd, Edinburgh
Gillian Ogilvie, Managing Director for Will Rudd, Edinburgh

By Gillian Ogilvie

ENGINEERING UK reported earlier this year that just over 16% of all engineering roles across the country are occupied by women. While this is an increase of around six percentage points on 2010 figures, it still shows women are still significantly underrepresented in the industry.

Today marks International Women in Engineering Day, an annual celebration of the work women do within the industry and a perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on the issue.

Like many issues faced across society, encouraging more women and girls to choose a career in engineering is no easy task – cultural stereotypes are still prevalent and unhelpful.

Things are changing though and while I think it’s a shame we still need an event like IWED, these play an important role in promoting the industry and demonstrating the impact engineers have on our lives.

Engineering as a whole is a broad church and I, as a dual civil and structural engineer, represent just a small part of this. But if you think of everything from clean water, new schools, homes and workplaces to power generation, it’s hard to think of something that is not impacted by engineers.

For many women and girls, whether they're coming to the end of their education or are considering a career change later in life, the prospect of starting out in engineering can be daunting. But help and support is available and there are a number of Stem (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) organisations who can put you in touch with other women in the field to get a better idea of what options are available.

Industry groups like Women in Property are also important networks which can support women to realise their potential. I’ve been a member of this particular group for a number of years and am looking forward to getting more involved in mentoring women in the industry.

At Will Rudd we have just appointed the latest female member of our technical team and are actively looking for more women to join us. While the pandemic has undoubtedly changed ways of working, we’ve always understood the importance of a healthy balance between work and home. As a result we operate a hybrid model with flexibility at its core and have enhanced our maternity package.

If you take me as an example, I’ve been lucky to have great opportunities and some really excellent mentors who helped me develop. I started off working on a construction site, yet here I’m now running a design consultancy business and leading a growing team while also designing and certifying structures. For some though, the opportunities and support aren’t as readily available so we all have a responsibility and a role to play in supporting women into the industry.

While we are making progress, we need to redouble our efforts and nurture the next generation of female engineers who will be instrumental in delivering some of society’s most important infrastructure solutions.

Gillian Ogilvie is Managing Director for Will Rudd, Edinburgh

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