Infrastructure and Development needs Women
Tuesday, 8 March was International Women’s Day; a day that seeks to recognise and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world. Over the past few years there have been a number of bespoke initiatives from various industries in which we work (engineering, infrastructure, construction) that have highlighted women’s contribution and, in turn, tried to encourage them to enter these workplaces.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has established The IET Women’s Network, which seeks to “engage with under-represented groups within engineering and technology and support them throughout their career”. They have also introduced the Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards. One of the aims of these awards is to create role models, thereby showing engineering to be a viable career option for the next generation of women entering the workplace. There are a host of other societies and initiatives (Women in Architecture, Women in Transport, Women in Rail, Women in Property, MIPIM Ladies) and awards that seek to highlight and, more importantly, foster women’s contribution.
There is also a very real reason to encourage women to these industries: there are not enough people to build the infrastructure and development projects that London needs. More people means more money injected into the city (so, it’s win, win!). There are some genuine efforts being made within major infrastructure projects to employ more female staff. At a recent Temple breakfast briefing, Geoff Loader, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Tideway, discussed the project’s aim to try and get a 50/50 split between men and women on the project. In order to achieve this they have introduced programmes such as Tideway Returner, which offers professionals (predominantly women) who have taken a career break and found it difficult to return to work, a range of internships within Tideway and its delivery partners.
The environmental sector is more fortunate in that, for the most part, it attracts a more of a diverse range of people, something I feel that we at Temple benefit from. Equally, our sister company The Ecology Consultancy, has an even higher number of female staff. However, what matters here is not numbers but that these are areas of the industry that are seen as viable for women to work in and offer real career prospects. There are certainly efforts to change things within different areas of the industry however, more needs to be done. I think the education needed here is twofold: firstly, to emphasise the value that women can bring and secondly, position these types of careers in a way that speaks to women, showing them how rewarding they can be.
IET kindly allowed us to include their infographic for how women can join the STEM industries;