Locale : Global (English)
Christy Cheung, graduate engineer, working at Mott MacDonald

Girls are well suited to engineering careers Katherine Jackson

Jobs in the built environment are not just for boys; girls are equally gifted when it comes to the logic and communication skills that are essential to engineering.

Careers in engineering are varied. Ask someone what engineering is and you’ll get a vast array of answers. Engineering can be described as a tree with many disciplines as its branches, and various specialist subjects at the leaves.

These diverse subjects are linked by two common elements that make girls just as suited to a career in engineering as boys: logic and communication.

All engineers must have a logical thought process and be able to communicate well. Ideas need to be processed in a logical manner for them to be tangible. Further, being able to communicate ideas to peers, clients, bosses and the general public is vital.

These traits are not exclusive to the male gender. Many girls assume engineering is not a career for them, but plenty of women have proved otherwise by achieving success in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and writer, was skilled in both logic and communication. She worked with Charles Babbage, the father of computers, on his early mechanical general-purpose computer, the “Analytical Engine”.

Her work on the engine included writing algorithms and she is often described as the world's first computer programmer. Yes, in an age where computers are so widely associated with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, James Gosling and Alan Turing, a woman was the first programmer!

Lovelace is a role model for women everywhere. She is even the figurehead of Ada Lovelace Day, an annual event which celebrates the success of women in STEM to demonstrate that a career in engineering for girls should not be seen as unobtainable.

Today, plenty more women work as engineers – many of them within Mott MacDonald. For example, principal structural analyst Mariana Asinari entered her role after completing a Masters degree in earthquake engineering. She works on a variety of projects on which she applies her seismic knowledge. Senior civil engineer Martha Taylor entered the industry to help vulnerable communities gain access to water and sanitation.

As for me, I am a technical advisor within the Transport Management Consultancy team. The variety of subjects first attracted me to a career in engineering – I knew something which combined design, mathematics and physics would be ideal for me.

While studying for my Ordinary National Diploma in Engineering at my local college, I was the only girl in my class. However, that course proved to be the best choice for me; in doing something interesting and enjoyable, I achieved the grades I needed to study civil engineering at university.

At Mott MacDonald, I advise banks on their investments in large, international highways projects. My role allows me to travel extensively and has included a secondment opportunity for a two year assignment in the Bahamas.

Whatever their gender, engineers have the chance and expertise to shape the world in which we live, solve the problems we face and make a better life for future generations. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

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