International Women in Engineering Day: ‘Transform the Future’

21 June 2019
This year’s theme for International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is ‘Transform the Future’. And it’s in this vein that women across Ramboll have been inspiring future generations, leading by example and showcasing their careers. 
Ramboll's Helen Baker in Rothera, Antarctica

Ramboll's Helen Baker in Rothera, Antarctica

Women make up just 12% of the UK engineering sector. With a large skills gap looming and the need for a more diverse workforce, it has never been more important to inspire and encourage more people, especially women, to choose a career in engineering.

Alex Lawrence, buildings director and head of talent and inclusion at Ramboll, is a driving force behind the company’s diversity and inclusion development. Earlier this year she scooped the WICE Awards Best Female Mentor of Year prize and launched Ramboll’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy.

Speaking ahead of INWED, Alex said “I see three areas being critical to encouraging women to consider engineering as a viable career option, these are; early career outreach, role models, and organisations with collaborative cultures that nurture inclusivity. But with women making up such a small proportion of our sector 100 years on from us securing the vote, we need to see a real acceleration of these efforts”.

Showcasing women careers and female role models

To help attract more women to STEM careers, women at Ramboll are encouraged to shine a light on their careers, offer advice and demonstrate that the engineering sector can offer an exciting career with many opportunities. Brogan MacDonald, graduate engineer, Helen Baker, principal engineer, and Jenny Symons, principal engineer, are combining their personal interests and skills in fulfilling careers.

Brogan combines her love for art and maths expertise in the engineering design of high-end retail stores and art installations for leading modern art museums. She has recently been filmed by the Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in their Humans for STEM and International Women in Engineering Day campaigns.

Helen’s expertise in problem solving, passion for the great outdoors and interests in the coastal and maritime environment has led her to specialise in marine projects. Helen has worked on award winning schemes including Queensferry Crossing and Milford-on-Sea Beach Hut Replacement Scheme and is currently working on the exciting Rothera Wharf for British Antarctic Survey. Returning from Antarctica earlier this year, she shares her experience in an interview with the Telegraph in their Women and Engineering supplement on 23rd June. Watch the video of the Rothera Wharf construction.

Jenny turned her fascination with volcanoes, earthquakes and the physical world into a Masters of Geology degree and now enjoys travelling the globe as part of her career. Jenny participated in The Geological Society 'From Deserts to Ice: Case Studies from Women in Geoscience' event, hosted at Ramboll’s Southampton office on 19 June, sharing her unique insight and experiences from working on a number of British Antarctic Survey research stations and projects. Find out more about Ramboll's women in Geoscience.

Inspiring future generations

Inspiring the next generation of engineers through outreach is a regular occurrence at Ramboll. Our active STEM network provide insight into the varied roles and careers within engineering and has presented to over 1,000 school and university students in the past year.

The network is led by Sotira Georgiou, a passionate and enthusiastic STEM Ambassador. Sotira works as a design engineer in the building structures team and has recently been shortlisted for The Rising Star awards. Now in its third year, the awards focus on the UK’s female talent pipeline below management level. We wish Sotira the very best for the awards, which take place on 3rd July.

Sotira and other Ramboll STEM Ambassadors recently presented to University of Southampton students and hosted 15 students from St Paul’s Girls school at Ramboll’s London head office. Attendees took part in interactive tasks and were able to gain insight into the presenters’ roles, which ranged from structural, marine, geotechnical, infrastructure and bridge engineering to sustainability consulting and specialist digital engineering. 

Following the University of Southampton event, Sotira said “It was inspiring to see the excitement on the students’ faces and the willingness to learn more about engineering careers. They were asking so many questions and were interested to learn more about the wide range of opportunities that exist within our profession”.

Ramboll will be at the Big Bang Fair South East, Wednesday 26 - Thursday 27 June at the South of England Showground, ready to inspire thousands of students to continue studying STEM subjects and to showcase the range of careers available within engineering.

Mentoring

In addition to attracting women into STEM careers, it is vital to provide ongoing support. Commenting on the importance of mentoring, Alex Lawrence said “Being a female engineer is not always easy. Still in 2019 we face challenges that can prove overwhelming and difficult to tackle. This is why mentoring is so important. It provides a safe place for mentees to share concerns and ask for honest opinions and for mentors to offer practical advice, guidance to overcome challenges and encouragement to take the next career step”. 

Alex’s passion for mentoring is also shared by Diana Ng, an associate in Ramboll’s building services team. Diana attended Celebrating Mentoring @Brunel; an annual event to mark the end of the year’s mentoring at Brunel University, where she was presented with a long service award that recognised her continued commitment to the WiBEC (Women in Brunel Engineering and Computing) mentoring scheme. Commenting on her award Diana said, “I was honoured to receive this recognition from Prof. Stefan Simons (Vice-Provost & Dean of College) and so happy to hear from Mina (my mentee) that my humble advice and experiences helped her with problem solving”.

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