Posted: Friday 23rd June 2017
Engineering is no longer a man’s world and highways engineer Rachael Stephens is one of a number of female engineers with Hertfordshire County Council who is encouraging more women into the industry on International Women in Engineering Day (23 June).
The council, which has practiced gender parity in its workforce for many years, is urging more women to get involved in this traditionally male-dominated field.
Watch Rachael talk about her career in engineering in the video below:
Rachael, a Highways Project Manager with the Local Roads Maintenance Team, has been working as an engineer for the past two years.
“I had no idea about this as a career path,” Rachel says. “If you told me when I was 15 ‘you’re going to be an engineer’ I would have laughed at you.
Rachael who started out as a permitting officer at Hertfordshire County Council, and has been studying for an engineering qualification while working. Last year she was a finalist in the ‘Best Apprentice’ category of the Women in Construction Awards.
“At the start I think contractors underestimate me, but as they get to know me it changes,” she said.
“When you go out to site and members of the public are there you find that if I’ve got the contractor with me they’ll automatically deviate to the contractor and most of the time it is because they’re male. You then have to be a bit assertive and take control of the meeting and go, ‘ excuse me I know what I’m doing here."
David Williams, Cabinet Member for Resources, Property and the Economy, said: “Hertfordshire County Council offers many exciting career opportunities and vacancies are open to all. We support National Women in Engineering Day and we want to encourage more women to think about choosing careers that they may not have previously considered.”
According to the Women’s Engineering Society, only nine per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK is female. This is the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, while Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30 per cent. Look further afield and you will see a whopping 40 per cent in China.