- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Experts from engineering, construction and science came together to celebrate the successes of women in industry and the challenges they face recently in a vibrant debate at the Senedd.
This was the first time an event of this nature has taken place in Wales and was organised by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and hosted by Joyce Watson AM, founder of the Women in Construction website.
The “Question Time” style debate was chaired by BBC’s Sara Edwards with a panel consisting of industry experts with a keen interest in diversity and promoting women in non traditional roles including Dr Jan Peters, President of WES; Sally Sudworth, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Wales Cymru Chair; Wyn Pritchard of ConstructionSkills Wales and Joyce Watson AM.
Jan Peters, WES President, said:
“WES has been the voice of the woman engineer since 1919 and connects and celebrates the contribution of women to engineering and the built environment. Our members enjoy inspiring each other and young women about the opportunities open to them.
“Our safety clothing survey from 2009 certainly let women’s voices be heard. We heard of clumsy, ill fitting clothing, boots, and gloves; and of no maternity PPE, but we also heard good news stories. We have now launched a range of purple work boots with Dunlop Safety and are building a network and outreach campaign around this.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with the construction industry to help encourage women to ask for ‘kit that fits’ and to raise awareness of employers, buyers and suppliers that there is women’s safety clothing out there.”
Jan also spoke about the contribution of women to shaping our future: the importance of showcasing the work women do and their innovations that shape society.
Joyce Watson AM said:
“At a time of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever that we invest in skills to provide people with a real opportunity to enter training and work.
“Despite more than 30 years of equality legislation, gender still clearly plays a big part when it comes to the career choices people make. Just 1% of frontline construction workers are women, and we cannot ignore 53% of the workforce population as a possible resource.
“This event will both raise awareness of the considerable contribution women play in the built environment, and will inspire women to consider the industry as a real career choice.”
WES is a membership-based charity that relies on membership fees, sponsorship and donations. The event was sponsored by ICE Wales Cymru, Constructing Excellence Wales, Construction Youth Trust, ConstructionSkills Wales and Capita Symonds.
Sally Sudworth, ICE Wales Cymru’s first female Chair, said:
“This debate is really timely. With a growing challenge to deliver capital projects in more efficient ways it’s essential that we have the best people on board to help us achieve this. ICE president Peter Handsford said at his inauguration this week that we need to approach delivery in a completely new and innovative way if we are to deliver best value in terms of finance and carbon. We have challenging targets to achieve in the coming years.
“I want to encourage more women into the industry; it’s a fantastic career choice that gives huge variety and immense job satisfaction.”
More information on the Women in Construction campaign can be found at www.womeninconstruction.co.uk. More information about the Women’s Engineering Society can be found at www.wes.org.uk.