Can you share your experience about joining the construction industry more than a decade ago?
I have faced scrutiny, sexist remarks, and online abuse, with members of the public sometimes making unacceptable comments. I don’t care because I am not looking for validation. I’m doing my job. When I see this type of behaviour, I call it out immediately.
More importantly, throughout my career I’ve forged a strong bond with some of my colleagues who continue to be incredibly supportive. I felt a profound sense of belonging in this group even though we had different ages, nationalities, and careers. When I did face some online abuse, they quickly jumped to my defense. These feelings of belonging and inclusion helped form my aspirations, to bring the incredible support and acceptance I had with them to the wider industry.
I tell women interested in pursuing a career in engineering that the industry is filled with exceptional people, and the women that came before them will be incredibly supportive because they remember the feeling of being among the few females in the room.
Are there obstacles you faced as a woman in construction? How did you deal with them?
Early in my career, it was difficult to share my voice. I was nervous about speaking out because I didn’t look like everybody else. I developed the confidence along the way and found my voice. Knowing what its like to feel like an outsider, I constantly encourage younger colleagues to speak up because I want them to have a safe space to contribute their ideas or concerns.
What advice would you share with women who are completing their studies now, or new to engineering, construction and health and safety?
My advice would be to just be yourself. Don't try to emulate the behaviour of your male peers as I did early in my career. I thought it was the way to make my voice heard. Today I am unapologetically myself. I’ve been selected for this role, and I am going to stay true to myself. People won't always like your opinions, behaviours, or the way that you work. But if your intentions are good, other people’s negative opinions and feelings don’t matter. Don't make yourself small, be big and loud and noisy! Take up space and just be yourself.
As an engineer, you have the opportunity to leave your legacy in this industry.