International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) took place on Saturday 23 June and last week, director Anna Tsartsari attended a round table event (INWED Perspective, hosted by Pick Everard) which brought together more than 20 of the Midlands’ top female delegates in the property, construction and engineering industries.
At BE Design, we’re passionate about encouraging more women into the industry and inspiring girls to consider a career in engineering to improve the 11% representation of women in the industry. As part of this, I was delighted to attend an event which discussed how other businesses and public sector bodies are doing this and what is next for the industry.
BE Design is a family – we’re all treated equally and everyone is given the same opportunities. We’ve worked hard to create a supportive and collaborative workplace that promotes a positive and healthy work-life balance and gives our staff the opportunity to progress and thrive.
This, unfortunately, hasn’t always been the case in the engineering industry and Wednesday’s event highlighted some of the difficulties women have faced to get to the senior positions they’re now in. Attendees told stories of being criticised for what they were wearing, how they had been told they would make a good secretary because they liked maths and even one story about a partner in a law firm who wasn’t able to use the partners’ toilets because there weren’t female facilities.
Things have progressed a lot since then and I was really pleased to hear that the younger attendees felt that they hadn’t experienced any barriers to entry.
We discussed how women are the answer to filling the skills gap we’re experiencing in the sector and how a lack of confidence in young girls could be holding them back from achieving their potential. It was raised that girls who like maths at school perhaps aren’t supported or as informed as they could be about the opportunities available to them in engineering.
We also spoke about perceptions of engineering and how the representation of women in the industry differs abroad compared to the UK. BE Design has a lot of projects in Europe so when we’re visiting sites on the continent I’m impressed by how many women there are present onsite and in our meetings. Engineering is a professional industry and Europe definitely recognises that – the UK isn’t far behind and we’re doing a lot to re-educate people and dispel misconceptions some may have about engineering.
When you first graduate it can be difficult – it’s the same in any career – but I feel that if you last the first three years of your career, work really hard and prove you can sustain the pace you’re going to do incredibly well. Senior positions are open to women and I’m keen to promote this to young girls who may enjoy maths but don’t know where it could take them.
The #INWEDPerspective round table will be released as a podcast – follow @B_E_Design on Twitter to find out when you can download it.