Yesterday (Sunday 23rd June) saw the return of International Women in Engineering Day. A day that celebrates the women that make a difference in the engineering sector and also highlights the challenges the industry still faces in encouraging young women into an engineering career. In research conducted by Subcon in early 2019, it states that 59% of businesses in the UK believed that enough was being done to encourage women into the industry.
Here, we spoke to two of the rising stars at Seymour Civil Engineering to get their experiences.
Victoria Greenwell and Sarah Jopling are both Site Managers at Seymour Civil Engineering who are proud of their chosen career paths.
Greenwell, 33, has been qualified for ten years and is now a Site Manager. Greenwell is currently managing the £1.3m Port of Tyne Container Improvement Scheme Project.
She said: “I’m passionate about my job and I want to be the best. When I was young there were no females in the industry that I looked up to as it was a male dominated industry. Female role models are so important to the coming generation of female workers. Ideally we need to bring women at an early stage of their careers and let them work their way to senior positions to gain valuable experience. Then they can help influence the next generation.
“For me it’s happening. I just think it will take time. Starting them young with apprenticeship schemes is a brilliant way to begin but it won’t happen overnight. It’s only been the last couple of years where the industry has been marketed more for women but it is a gradual transition - getting more women into the industry will take time. You never know in 5 year’s time I may be sitting here with a lot more women beside me in senior positions."
Jopling, 28, Site Manager on Sunderland’s Hylton Castle project onbehalf of William Birch, said: “It’s important to attract and retain the next generation of young women in the sector. It should be a normal thing to see a mixture of male and female workers on a construction site.
“More and more people like myself, setting examples within senior roles are helping to change that perception within the industry. Seymour has done a lot to encourage women into the industry. I’ve been given opportunities from Kevin Byrne, our MD, to join institutes such as NAWIC and I know we invest a lot of time and effort into STEM activities at local schools and colleges.
“That doesn’t mean that more can’t be done to attract women at a younger age. It’s important for women like myself to be put in front of young women to show them this is what an engineer is in the 21st century.
“Schools and businesses have a responsibility to show children the options they have when they are young. It’s a massive choice that will affect the rest of your life and I feel children need to have more information. The industry needs to support schools with this and get to women when they’re younger to show them the possibilities of what they can become.”
According to UK Engineering, only 12.37% of all engineers in the UK are women but when asked, 46.4% of girls 11-14 would consider a career in engineering. This shows that the interest from younger women is there. It’s up to education and the industry to work together to ensure the enthusiasm of these young people grows.