Engineering a balanced workforce

The movement to encourage women and girls to take up careers in engineering received a boost with the recent visit of the Ms Kate Hall, the inspiring 2016 Seymour Whyte Distinguished Visiting Scholar for Women in Civil Engineering.

For the third year running, Seymour Whyte partnered with the Peta Seymour Foundation and the University of Queensland UQ to support the program as part of the company’s commitment to creating a more gender-balanced workforce in the male-dominated industry.

This year’s Distinguished Visiting Scholar was Ms Hall is Director of the Built Environment of the United Kingdom’s High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) Ltd, who leads the Architecture and Civil Engineering teams for the HS2 network.

Seymour Whyte CEO and Managing Director Mr John Kirkwood said, “Civil construction is a difficult, challenging and highly competitive industry. To remain competitive, we understand the value of having a diverse workforce at all levels of the organisation.”

Mr Kirkwood said that women made up a third of Seymour Whyte’s senior management team and 20% of the company’s recent engineering graduate intake were females–higher than national figures of 17% female civil engineering graduates.

As part of the 2016 program, Ms Hall delivered a public lecture consisting of a reflection on her career as a Chartered Civil Engineer, the challenges in engaging with and retaining women in the Civil Engineering profession and the opportunities a Civil Engineering profession can offer.

She also led a Student Industry Panel attended by UQ’s current undergraduate and postgraduate students. The panel also included Seymour Whyte’s Project Quality Manager Lorraine Perera, an accomplished civil engineer with more than 25 years’ experience.

Female Year 11 and Year 12 students from around Brisbane also had the special opportunity to attend a breakfast with Ms Hall. She talked about her career path and where an engineering degree could take a young woman, and answered students’ questions about a range of topics.

For more information about the program, visit UQ.