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#ChooseToChallenge: International Women’s Day 2021

Published on March 08, 2021

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day. RSK has a diverse workforce at its core and chooses to challenge the gender biases that still occur today. The environmental and engineering sectors, though improving, are still predominantly male arenas where women are in the minority. We can do much more to challenge this, and we must ensure that both women and men recognise that they have important parts to play in our industry, which offers valuable careers for all.

Today, we recognise and applaud the many women in our business who contribute to our global success. Here are three of those success stories. We hope there will be many more to come…

Kim Oliver

“For much of my first year in this world I worked on a major construction project in Dartford in which I carried out reptile trapping and translocation and water vole trapping, translocation and habitat creation. I also acted as the ecological clerk of works. I was the only female on-site apart from occasionally when I was joined by colleagues for additional help. But this did not faze me as I was finally getting to do a job I really enjoyed.

“Sadly, females have been in the minority on-site for most of the rest of my 17-year career in environmental consultancy. But in my current secondment, I sit in the project-management site cabin with three other people, including another woman. We are probably two of the most outspoken people on-site! I think I have subconsciously become this way: talking more loudly; being bossier; being forthright, almost to try to get my voice heard. I also find myself talking like a ‘lad’, maybe to bond with some of the guys on site, to get them on-board with what I need them to do.

“Despite this, I am really pleased with how much I have achieved in my career and with how far I have come. I have worked on some highly prestigious projects, including six and a half years spent working on the Olympic Park. I have changed my career along the way to general environmental project management, although I do miss my ecology surveys!

“I have recently joined the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) as a champion for RSK and I hope to get more involved in making a difference: to make the construction industry more diverse and inclusive of women.”

Georgina King, Senior Environmental Manager

“I started to do a degree at the University of Liverpool in biological sciences because I really had no clue what else I wanted to do (apart from being a vet, but isn’t that in most kids’ dreams?). Anyway, in the second and third year, I specialised more in zoology and ecology modules and eventually decided on a degree in ecology and environment. There were only three of us on the degree course and we were all women, so it was great. We spent most of our third year out and about in the field, learning about survey techniques, the importance of different species and so on. I had great plans to be an ecologist, much like Kim, however, graduating during the recession put a stop to that as no one was wanting to take on graduates. At this point, I had no concept of the equality issues.

Georgina King

“Not long after university, I found myself working for a large engineering company and was soon put through my paces on an overhead-line project at the most northern point of Scotland. I was the only site-based woman out of 200 employees! The male-orientated environment soon became apparent. However, since then, I have slowly worked my way back down the country and have found the female presence on-site to be growing and growing. I am now involved in several projects that have a significant proportion of females, particularly in the senior project-management roles.

“I am very proud of the work I do and of the progress I have made in my career. While I have been aware of the stereotypes associated with the construction industry, I have always enjoyed my roles and have strived to be an integral part of project teams. I have always been welcomed within the construction industry, although I have had to dig my heels in a few times to be listened to! I have joined WES as a champion for RSK because I would like to encourage inclusivity and want to inspire everyone to become part of the construction and engineering sectors.”

Sally Rotherham, Associate Director

“I began a career at RSK after graduating from the University of the West of England with a degree in environmental science. I have mainly focused on the environmental assessment of large-scale infrastructure projects, while working with engineers to embed environmental mitigation into the design of projects, to increase the likelihood of gaining planning consent. I am very lucky to have been surrounded by strong female role models since joining RSK nearly 20 years ago. This has been invaluable in helping me to gain experience in engineering projects and to have the confidence to challenge engineering designs and practices.”

Sally Rotherham

For more details of RSK’s current vacancies, please visit our careers webpage. You can find more details on International Women’s Day here.

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