Call for more women in construction


By Madeline O’Connor

AS National Women in Engineering Day was celebrated on Monday, companies across the UK have been using the day as a chance to promote construction as a career for young women.

Established up by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) to celebrate its 95th anniversary, National Women in Engineering Day celebrates the work that women presently do in engineering, as well as showcasing the great variety of engineering careers available for women who might be considering it as a career.

Bechtel has issued a call for companies to work with schools, identify role models and foster a working environment to help increase the number of women engineers, as has Aecome, which on Monday presented an event at SolihullCollege to encourage female recruitment in the sector.

WSP has published the results of a poll of its female workforce identifying potential barriers to female recruitment.

According to Bechtel, only 6% of the UK engineering workforce is female, while Aecom says the figure is 7%. According to WSP the figure is 8.7%. All three consider they have an above average gender balance for the industry.

Out of Aecom’s 4221 employees (permanent and temporary) in the UK and Ireland, 1122 (27%) are female and, of these, 780 (69%) are engineers. In addition, 22% of places on leadership training courses in the year ending 31 May 2014 have been filled by females.

At WSP over 20% of the engineering workforce is female and a high proportion are in the early stages of their career.  43% of female engineers of a recent internal survey were graduate rank and below, suggesting the number of women entering the industry is increasing.

WSP’s survey of female engineers also found that 49% think that educating teachers and careers advisers about engineering as a career will attract young girls into an engineering career; 60% said there were no barriers to women entering the profession and 65% say their gender does not limit their career progression.

In an open letter to mark National Women in Engineering Day, Peter Dawson, president of civil infrastructure at Bechtel, writes:

“Women are particularly under-represented in engineering, as only 6% of the UK engineering workforce is female.  Creating an inclusive environment in the workplace has shown us that diverse teams get better results and is good for business.  For example, working with our colleagues at Crossrail, we have found that the more diverse the team, the better they perform.

“I believe that we should all feel a personal responsibility to address this challenge.  Every company needs to act.  Positive steps can include working with schools, identifying role models, and fostering a working environment that helps people of all backgrounds to flourish.  Our industry will only benefit as a result.”

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