In her own words
COVID has shone a real spotlight on our logistics and supply chain, and how important any link in that chain is. Our transport infrastructure is one of those critical links. Seeing how government has invested in transport infrastructure more recently to help stimulate the economy shows the power and depth of the industry and how much of an impact it has on our economy, particularly in terms of how many people it employs. It improves communities and builds resilience.
It also enhances lives at a personal level. The best thing is hearing people talking about infrastructure if I am on the tram and or at a barbecue - not because they know I am working on a particular project – but because it has an impact on what they do. It’s exciting.
The more diverse the team working on infrastructure projects the more reflective it is of the end-users and everyone benefits.
When it comes to attracting and retaining women there is a pipeline issue. It’s a big systematic problem that needs to be tackled from a lot of different angles to have a meaningful impact. Building awareness of the opportunities for women in the industry is the starting point. Having visible role models helps. We need to highlight the opportunities in transport and infrastructure to girls at school if they are to choose subjects that give them access to an education relevant to our industry.
There is a stereotype that what we do in engineering is a lot of calculations and is very maths heavy and there is obviously maths and science that goes into the design. But the majority of what we do is engage with people to understand their problems, road-test solutions and deliver great outcomes. In consulting engineering it’s all about listening and communication and presenting options. If you are someone who loves talking to people, loves the community, loves making an impact - you can do that in our industry. Engineering is an active, out there, connected role.
I have been in the industry for a bit over 20 years and I have seen positive changes when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Earlier in my career there were probably more overt issues, such as inappropriate posters displayed on site. Now the challenge is the remaining barriers are a lot harder to see and identify. It can be someone making an assumption about what sort of work someone wants to do returning after a career break.
The challenge is not to think we have done all we can but to keep trying and to build momentum.