Each year, on 23 June, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) hosts International Women in Engineering Day to celebrate and raise awareness of women’s careers in engineering disciplines. For 2022, the campaign is focusing on ‘looking towards the future: investors and innovators’.
To celebrate the ground-breaking work carried out by women across the RSK family of businesses, we asked engineering colleagues why they pursued a career in their discipline and about the real-world impact they have on shaping our future.
“I get asked a lot, “what inspired you to be an engineer?” I always tell everyone it was my dad: a fellow engineer who became a lecturer. He always had fascinating stories to tell me about the projects he worked on, such as geothermal drilling rigs and sections of the London Underground. I knew I wanted a career where I could design things that would change people’s lives. He was also a single parent raising a teenage daughter, so he definitely broke some biases himself. Because of him, I was fortunate to always feel encouraged towards STEM rather than face some of the hurdles that I recognise other women have and continue to face.”
Naomi Doble, Civil Engineer at Binnies UK
“I chose engineering as a career very early on by studying general engineering from the age of 16 before studying civil engineering at university. Engineering suites my practical approach to life, giving me the opportunity to take a problem, break it down and then develop practical solutions. As an engineer in the water industry, I have tested these skills many times. Our clients come to us because they have problems they need our help to solve. I am most proud of my recent work in building the case for the removal of lead pipes from the water supply network. This may one day result in further changes to government policy and improve the protection of human health.”
Jo Hulance, Consultant Engineer – Asset Management at WRc
“The advice I would give to female graduates is to immerse themselves in as much as possible to stand out from the crowd, as sometimes it feels like male colleagues can be any level from satisfactory to brilliant, while women must be amazing. Normally, I’m quite introverted but I challenged myself to put myself forward, not knowing where it would lead but also not wanting to miss the opportunity to develop my experience and confidence. I’ve gained so much, which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken that first step, including being invited to COP26 and appointed as one of the new leaders for my department’s Junior Business Development Forum.”
Carys Williams, Graduate Geographic Information Systems Consultant at EPD
“I graduated in 1986 with an Applied Science degree. For me, science was not to be constrained to maths, physics, chemistry or biology; I wanted to do it all! I was always drawn to resource management and environmental protection, and completing a PhD at the Civil Engineering Department of University of Birmingham just cemented that enthusiasm and drive to be the best that I could be in what was still a very male-dominated business. Constant learning throughout all stages of our career is vital, and tapping into the knowledge of our peers – and their drive and passion – is key to remaining engaged, inspiring, innovative and valued.”
Dr Karen Murrell, Principal Consultant – Catchment Management at WRc
“I began my career as an environmental monitoring technician, which sparked my interest in the environmental engineering industry and enabled me to progress into a profession that I really enjoy. It appealed to me as I enjoyed working outside and I would be able to learn about all aspects of ground investigation. I am lucky enough to have worked on a variety of projects, from greenfield sites to petrol forecourts, which has helped me to develop my knowledge of contaminated land and ground conditions. My advice to others looking to enter the industry would be to join RSK via the graduate scheme as it has a lot of really useful training sessions throughout the two-year programme, and it gives a great foundation for a successful career and progression through the company.”
Vicky Russell, Geo-Environmental Engineer at RSK Geosciences
“What I enjoy most about my role is that it feels like what I’m doing really matters. As a student it sometimes feels like you are solving problems for the sake of it, so graduating and being involved in projects that can change people’s lives for the better is really inspiring. This is especially true now – the effects of climate change are being increasingly felt, so the work we do as engineers is very relevant and necessary. While at times it can feel a little intimidating, it is also extremely rewarding to be contributing to work that will protect whole communities and help keep people safe.”
Kira Jukes, Graduate Civil Engineer at Binnies UK
“What made me choose engineering? Honestly, I had a wonderful maths teacher in my senior school who once told me that I was born to be an engineer. That stuck in my mind, and I went for it! I am proud to be involved in creating and detailing process designs for water and waste water treatment plants. I am privileged to be a part of the water industry developing sustainable solutions for the environment and for a safe and resilient water supply.”
Slavka Harrison, Senior Process Engineer at MWH Treatment
Thank you to members of the RSK Women’s Network for contributing your thoughts on the important role women in engineering play in shaping our future.