To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2020. our Design Director for the South, Sarah Stone, was due to deliver a talk at Skipton Girls High School today, but with social distancing still in effect this was postponed. We decided to sit down (via Zoom) with some of our Female Engineers to hear their thoughts and hopefully inspire some younger females to enter the industry.
Design Director South
The role is very challenging as every project has intricate details and many different aspects to remember, as well as numerous names on project teams. Trying to balance on a day to day what is the most important task can be challenging but when things fall into place it is incredibly rewarding..
The best thing about working in the structural industry is you can be driving down a road and all of a sudden one of your buildings pops up, your role can impact the changing landscape of a city– I love seeing the completed build, which I never normally get chance to, usually its getting the job done to our completion and swiftly moving onto the next thing!
It’s amazing how much change I’ve seen in the last 9 years while working in the industry, there does seem to be a greater presence of female engineers on site and in the office environment, and those that stay in engineering after graduating from university seem to be progressing far within the industry. I hope more women will want a career in engineering and can see that you can have a family and a career side by side.
I have felt incredibly supported by Sigmat. As a working mum, after my return after maternity leave in 2019 I was able to be more flexible and work 3 to 4 days a week every other week, an unusual arrangement due to childcare. I was delighted to also have been promoted to the position of Design Director whilst maintaining my 4 day a week status. It is challenging – especially Mondays after 3 days off – but the most important thing is that I enjoy my job and my family time, and have a healthy amount of both
One leadership lesson I’ve learned throughout my career is to listen to people and assess their point of view before assuming you are correct, its never too late to learn new things!
I am a Structural Detailer at Sigmat and my biggest challenge is to adjust to the new workflow. I've previously worked on hot rolled steel structures and I find it challenging to work on Light Gauge Steel Frames. In order to deliver the best and be effective, I devote time to learning the our systems thoroughly.
The best thing about my job is that I am always busy doing work I enjoy. This helps me produce my best work and never get bored. The work environment is great as well – I am surrounded by smart and inspiring people. The ideas of my colleagues expose me to different ways of thinking.
It’s no secret that the construction industry is massively male-dominated. I am expecting the number of women working in construction to rise in the next few years as there are concerted efforts in the overall industry to recruit and retain more of us. As the sector of construction industry is changing rapidly, I believe that women will bring new ways of thinking and working and will expand the industry’s skills and experience.
The most challenging aspect of my role at Sigmat is coming up with a design which has the most economical and environmental benefit, I also enjoy the challenge of coming up with a design which has the least amount of impact.
What I enjoy most about working in engineering is that’s it’s an ever-growing and ever-changing industry, it never gets boring. Although it’s a male dominated career you will find females engineers breaking the boundaries.
I see the female roles developing positively in the industry in the next few years. With female equality rights highlighted in the recent media I believe more females will seek a career in the construction industry. There are so many different positions/posts to apply for which is great!
Senior Structural Detailer
My role is like an adventure. It provokes my mind to find solutions to technical challenges and I really like this! I like having to solve something or chase for technical information about a project, as it gives me chance to find out what I really want to!
It’s difficult to try and find the information you need – and when elements in the project change throughout it can be very challenging. But again, this comes with the role and making sure I end up with the right output for the client is the end goal. I like to make sure I hit my targets on time to make my part of the process easier for everyone else, as what I do affects how everyone else works! Communicating with different people is sometimes challenging but this is interesting too as it helps you learn and get to know different ways of working with people.
I would like to see more awareness in schools or universities to the type of LGSF structures that Sigmat do, construction should all change to semi-modular as it’s the way forward – it’s quick on site and it’s so interesting to see how much more practical this is! It would be good to see more opportunity for apprenticeships in engineering for girls especially to see what the role involves.
The thing I enjoy about working in engineering is being challenged in new concepts, new methods, new problems requiring solutions. This can be hard-work but the satisfaction and confidence gained when you either “get it” or solve it is very rewarding.
I believe that there is real potential for using LGSF for housing. Not just in the high-end market which Sigmat is already developing, but in all levels of housing including large developments and across all socio-economic spectrums. As we all know there is a severe housing shortage across the country and I believe that modern construction methods which Sigmat utilises are ideal to meet this demand.
I would like to see more women in engineering roles and I was so pleased to see other women in engineering roles in Sigmat having worked in other companies where I was the only one. It would be great in the future if all schoolgirls would consider STEM jobs to be not only achievable but desirable.