WSP highlights case studies ahead of National Women in Engineering Day

Women are massively under-represented in engineering – currently representing only 8.7% of the workforce (1 in 10), the worst in the European Union. WSP, the consultancy behind the Shard and other UK landmarks, has a better representation with women representing over 20% of our engineering workforce. Forty-three per cent of female engineers of a recent internal survey were graduate rank and below, suggesting the number of women entering the industry is increasing.

WSP’s survey of female engineers also found:

  • 49% think that educating teachers and careers advisers about engineering as a career will attract young girls into an engineering career
  • 64% had engineering and science mentioned as a career choice at school
  • 60% said there were no barriers to women entering the profession
  • 65% say their gender does not limit their career progression
  • 30% said there are fewer female engineers than males because they do not have the right qualifications

Case studies

Claire Gott

Structural engineer currently working on the redevelopment of London Bridge Station. In 2011 she was NCE Graduate of the Year, representing the ICE as a role model for young engineers – as a result sits on the Government’s Green Construction Board promotional working group and represents the views of the youth in the engineering sector. Claire is promoting careers in engineering through her management role at the charity Cameroon Catalyst.

“I strongly believe that it is our responsibility, as practicing engineers, to engage with the younger generation and equip them with the skills to successfully meet the challenges of tomorrow and secure the future of UK engineering. I was inspired to go into engineering after being part of a pupil group on a school trip to Tanzania, helping to rebuild an orphanage. Seeing how practical hands-on skills could be applied to have such a positive impact on a community sparked my passion for engineering.”

Najwa Jawahar

Graduate structural engineer working on skyscrapers. Joined WSP after 1st class degree in engineering from Leeds University. Chairs the Young Engineers Network at WSP, which she set up to help the personal development of young engineers.

“I believe an engineer holds the power to transform the future by providing solutions to problems which directly impact social, environmental and economic aspects of our everyday lives. This combined with the dynamic nature of the construction industry, where no two days the same, makes structural engineering the most rewarding career for me.”

Jane Richards

Director of building structures, who was part of the team that produced the Shard. Specialises in ‘skinny skyscrapers’.

“The good thing about engineering is that it is very varied and therefore not always easy to describe a typical day. Attitude and application I think tend to be bigger differentiators for most people, whether male or female. Most people in construction just want to get on with the project and therefore, if you know your subject and contribute and collaborate to help solve problems, and come up with effective solutions, then you will tend to fit in to construction whether male or female.”

Abbie Jones

Started career as office assistant before completing a part time HNC course in engineering and then BEng civil engineering course at Coventry University. Completed with first class honours.

“Women need to just go for it as there are so many great opportunities. I was very good at maths at school, but this was never brought up to me as a potential career opportunity. If stereotypes were removed it would definitely increase the amount of women in engineering.”

Freya Shepherd

Graduate engineer working on bridges with a MEng in Civil and Structural Engineering.

“The most challenging part about engineering is also its most enjoyable. You need the technical ability and understanding of exactly what you are calculating in a visual manner. Completing a design and seeing the final product on site is rewarding. We are ultimately looking at the problems of today and making it better for current and future generations.”

Ana Lorente

Graduate hydrologist, working on flooding. Speaks three languages at a professional level.

“My mother is an important role model and influence to me as she is a very good ‘home manager’ and has a better job than my father. It’s important to make clear to aspiring women engineers at an early stage that it’s a very rewarding job where a number of different personal and professional skills are required on a daily basis.”