In an industry which suffers from a lack of female representation, we’re proud to have a strong female contingent in the BE Design family – including our founder and director, Anna Tsartsari.

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD, 8 March) this year by sharing stories from our female employees and their hopes for the future of the industry.

Anna Tsartsari, director

There are clearly a lot more women in the industry now – compared to when I started 18 years ago. There was only one engineer at management level in my first job as a graduate engineer – in a company of 120 employees. Back then, it was incredibly inspiring to find out that my female role model was given a promotion to become an associate while she was pregnant with her first child.

The construction industry has become inclusive but there is still a long way to go. There are a number of  organisations supporting women in the industry and organising events to provide additional support and knowledge to women.

Giving young girls the opportunity to undertake work experience in construction-related companies is a great way to inspire them and give them another career option. Offering mentoring to girls is also a fantastic way to ensure they stay in the industry and they pass a positive message to other females around them attracting more females.

It is certainly very important to celebrate equality – as well as differences – and to be inclusive. It is not about being a woman or a man it is about making sure everyone is included in all aspects of life and work, building up balanced teams. We are so lucky at BE Design to have such an amazing, skilful, diverse and passionate team.

Sophie Hayes, junior BIM technician

I joined BE Design in October 2018 and my main responsibilities as a junior BIM technician include: making changes to drawings, creating new drawings and assisting senior technicians with modelling.

I am currently taking an additional training course to improve my 3D- modelling sills and, although I am the only female in the group, it hasn’t put me off at all.

I understand that we work in a male-dominated industry so, although not having a female director wouldn’t put me off a company, it’s certainly inspiring to see Anna in a position we’d all like to be in one day.

BE Design is very supportive. I was recently involved in an accident and had to take some time off work – and everyone has been incredibly kind – Anna even called me to check if I was okay. You wouldn’t get that at every company so I feel incredibly lucky to work at such a caring practice.

Katy Barnes, architectural graduate

I completed work experience at BE Design in 2014 and, after studying at Newcastle University – and doing a summer placement at the practice – I started my graduate job here in September 2018. My role includes concept design and initial brainstorming of ideas for architectural projects, through to the creation and issue of drawing packs.

International Women’s Day is particularly meaningful to celebrate in industries such as ours, where women are now becoming more equal to men in a traditionally male-dominated sector.

The presence of a female director has undeniably made BE Design a more balanced company and Anna is a great figure for women – and men – within the company to aspire to and is proof that opportunities for women within BE Design are in line with the opportunities available to men.

Charlotte Wilson, accounts manager

I’ve been at BE Design for two years now and manage all of the practice’s finances – as well as some HR responsibilities.

I have two small children, so I’m able to use flexible hours to work around my commitments and the directors have always supported this, making it incredibly easy. Starting a family whilst progressing in your career can often be a concern for women – but firms like BE Design make it easy to do both.

Elizabeth Malthouse, architectural BIM technician

I completed an apprenticeship with BE Design a few years ago and have now been here for three and a half years – and am studying part time for a degree in Architectural Technology from Sheffield Hallam University.

I’ve always felt supported here – whether it’s through flexible working hours or help with my degree course – and I know that if I ever have a problem, I can talk to my line manager and the issue can be dealt with in a professional manner.

I think it’s an advantage to have a female director, as a person to confide in with any personal issues I may have, but also as someone to aspire to.

Karolina Wilson, architectural BIM technician

My job involves me preparing design and technical drawings and I’ve been doing it for four years now. I now work part time as I have two children but, when I was in the office full time, I attended a lot of training courses and CPDs. These helped enormously and I felt incredibly supported by the directors.

Being part of an understanding and caring company really motivates you to do your best and achieve your true potential.

International Women’s Day in my native Poland is a huge celebration – women get flowers and are made to feel special and appreciated because we work hard professionally and at home. It’s a fantastic opportunity to lift women up and enjoy success together.

Su Ford, administration assistant

I’m the first person you see when you arrive at our Newark office. My job includes: managing meetings and diaries; arranging training and CPD sessions; ensuring we have all the facilities we need and that everything is working as it should be.

I’ve been at BE Design for four months now and have seen the difference a female director makes on the staff – it’s incredibly positive.

It is important to celebrate how far we have come in terms of addressing the imbalance between men and women and I think it’s good to spend some time looking at what can be done in the future; how can we build upon this good work and what can we do next to make the workplace even fairer for the next generation?