BESA launches outstanding woman award

BESA National Awards

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) is supporting the campaign to attract more women into engineering professions by launching an award to mark the centenary of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES).

BESA believes engineering professions in general – and building engineering in particular – will not be able to meet future business goals without a far more gender diverse workforce. According to the Office for National Statistics, just 12% of British engineers are women and BESA is backing a WES initiative to raise that figure to 30% by 2030.

Figures from the Royal Academy of Engineering also show that 20,000 additional graduate and higher-level apprentices will be needed every year between now and 2024 to meet predicted demand.

“Creating more career opportunities for women in engineering is not just the right thing to do – it is better for our businesses,” said BESA chief executive David Frise. “There is plenty of evidence to show that the most successful companies are those with the most diverse workforces – and how successful can we possibly be if we are, effectively, ignoring 50% of the population.”

Nominations for the BESA Outstanding Woman in Building Engineer Services award are invited via the Association’s website (www.theBESA.com/conference) and the winner will be honoured at the BESA National Conference and Awards event at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London on November 21st.

Role Model

The award, which will be presented by WES chief executive officer Elizabeth Donnelly, will recognise a woman who has made an outstanding contribution to engineering in the built environment and is a fitting role model for women in the building engineering workforce.

“There has never been a better time for parents to encourage their girls to embark on a career in engineering,” said Ms Donnelly. “The career potential has never been greater because, alongside a very real skills shortage, there is growing understanding of the positive way women are contributing to this male-dominated sector.”

She added that it was high time engineering closed the diversity gap on other industry sectors and that role models would play a crucial role in encouraging women – particularly young women – to enter male dominated fields like building engineering services.

“With women reaching the very top in politics; emergency services; healthcare and business – why not engineering?” she said.

The new award will build on the success of women like Joanna Robinson, managing director of Mansfield Pollard. As well as running a large, international business, Joanna is chair of BESA’s Ventilation Group.

“A large part of my work with BESA is to promote women in engineering, and am committed to empowering the next generation of female engineers – highlighting the potential career opportunities in manufacturing and engineering,” she said.

BESA’s Future Leaders group is also nurturing emerging talent by giving young engineers – drawn from member companies – opportunities to grow and develop through mentoring and training. The group’s chair is Reanna Taylor – a senior project engineer at the contractor NG Bailey.

"I have been fascinated by buildings from a young age, but – as a young woman – I thought I would only be able to work in interior design or architecture. However, as I grew older I realised there were apprenticeships in building services. I knew this was the way I wanted to go because I want to build and service a brighter future for our country,” said Ms Taylor.

She said it was also increasingly clear that companies performed better if they were more representative of the community around them. “A diverse workforce brings new ideas and fresh perspectives that help your company win work and broaden its client base. It is also good for corporate reputation.”

For more information about the BESA Outstanding Woman in Building Engineer Services award, go to www.theBESA.com/conference

For more information about the Women’s Engineering Society please visit: www.wes.org.uk