Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role?
My name is Carmencita De Villa, Principal Engineer – QS in Kuwait. I have been with WSP for 11 years now. I am currently working on South Surra Site Supervision Project and continuously supporting in the tender/ contract matters for other Kuwait projects.
Can you tell us about your proudest engineering milestone/achievement?
I guess I am lucky to have various moments in my career to be proud of. Or perhaps it is just a mindset that I always find value to these experiences. But for the proudest milestone, I have two: one of them was when I was first given an opportunity to supervise a team of engineers and draftsman to work on the quantity take offs for a project with three contracts. This has given me, and I suppose to my manager as well, the confidence to be entrusted with more responsibilities. It has also paved my way to senior roles.
The other one was when I was elected among the Board of Directors of the Filipino Civil Engineering organization for Kuwait chapter, garnering the highest votes from general membership. It has allowed me to contribute, share my knowledge, and serve my fellow engineers and Filipino community even away from home.
Have you witnessed or experienced gender bias in your career?
Actually, the obvious scenario which can be observed is more of gender imbalance, but not consciously being biased. Like I come to site work everyday working with around 40 male staff in our team and I am the only female, even in the Contractor side. Similarly, in our main office where only the receptionist and one female engineer is remaining in the office. And I am glad to say that we are treated fairly at both.
I guess the underlying reason behind is the people’s mindset, the generally conservative culture we are into. But it is good to know that this mentality is improving. It may be slowly, but, yes, we are now embracing the change.
Where do you think we are as an industry in relation to gender balance?
I think we are one of the industry leaders advocating gender balance and equality. And I am proud to be a part of an organization which recognizes, celebrates and encourages female contribution in the engineering field. And hope we continue providing the influence in positively shaping our society.
How can we hold ourselves accountable as an industry when it comes to Gender Balance?
By consistently embedding gender equality in our policies, providing our women with opportunities to leadership roles or even just simply giving them the exposure to these male dominated fields and tasks. I believe this will be of great help in changing people’s mindset when these scenarios become more visible and an accepted norm in the society.
What do you think the future of engineering looks like for women?
With various initiatives around us, gradual change in people’s mindset and the proven exceptional contribution of women in engineering, I’d like to say that engineering for women looks promising yet slowly evolving. It will be interesting to finally see a lady Resident Engineer (RE), at least in Kuwait!
What would you like to share with the next generation of women considering a STEM career?
I would highly encourage them to explore the field, believe in themselves, believe that they can contribute, trust in their unique abilities and that they are valuable. And I believe that this industry needs more of this productive collaboration between genders.