23rd June 2021

International Women in Engineering Day

Millie Smith

Geovation celebrates International Women in Engineering day with female Engineers from across our community.

What is International Women in Engineering Day?

International Women in Engineering Day was established to acknowledge and increase awareness about the amazing work female engineers do in the engineering industry. Held on Wednesday the 23rd of June this year, International Women in Engineering Day aims to raise the profile of female Engineers and shine a light on the incredible career opportunities in the engineering industry available for girls and women.

How is Geovation celebrating International Women in Engineering Day?

To celebrate, we spoke to some of the inspiring women in the Geovation community and asked them to share their motivation for working in engineering, what it’s like being a female engineer and tell us their top tips for any women wanting to get into the engineering world!

First up, we asked Sonja, Head of Product at BKwai a few questions about her experience:

1. What was your engineering role and what role do you currently do now?

After graduating, I joined a large engineering consultancy firm where I worked on the design and analysis of complex structures around the world. I was lucky to be involved in a huge variety of projects: from bridges and buildings, to stadia and offshore structures.

After 7 years, I made a move into Product Management for data technology companies. I recently joined BKwai, a construction tech startup that is building a platform to help engineers identify meaningful insights from monitoring data and improve the resilience of civil infrastructure assets. As Head of Product, I have the opportunity to combine my engineering and technology experience to develop software that creates maximum value for our customers, and I am loving it so far!

2. Why did you originally choose a career in engineering?

At school I enjoyed maths, physics and design, and engineering gave me an opportunity to combine all three to solve real world problems. I chose to study engineering at university and took a year out before starting to work for an engineering company to learn more about the industry and what the role entails. I loved that there is so much variety, and that the outputs on projects are tangible and have direct real-world impact.

3. What was it like being a female Engineer?

I got lucky: the companies I worked at had a reasonable distribution across the genders – I think about 30-40% of my graduate intake were women. I wasn’t made to feel excluded or different to anyone of the other engineers, but I did have trouble getting site kit (boots, hi vis jackets etc.) in a small enough size!
I remember on some of the university open days, where most of the other attendees were male, I sometimes felt quite out of place. I didn’t fit the stereotype of playing with Lego as a child or taking things apart to see how they worked. I wanted to be an engineer because I liked problem solving and designing solutions that improve people’s lives. I’ve learnt that as Engineering is such a vast and varied career space, it really does need people from every background and with different mindsets, so don’t be put off if you don’t fit the stereotype. We need diverse teams to be able to find the most creative and valuable solutions.

4. What was your favourite thing about working as an Engineer?

Knowing that I was making a positive impact through the projects I worked on. There is so much scope to influence outcomes, drive new initiatives and actually make a real difference to the world.

5. What would be your top tip be for anyone wanting to become an Engineer?

Think carefully about why you want to be an engineer, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not for anyone else, and then go for it! Don’t be afraid if you’re not 100% sure, no one actually ever is! Engineering is a hugely varied sector, and the skills you’ll learn (e.g. problem solving, analysis, expectation management) are incredibly transferable and useful in all sorts of situations.

If Sonja’s experience as a woman in engineering has inspired you, find out more about International Women in Engineering day and how you can get involved here.