Meet the Women ‘Engineering’ their Own Success

Posted By:
Northern Ireland Water

22nd Jun 2021

NI Water is celebrating International Women in Engineering Day on 23rd June by recognising some of the female engineers making a splash in the world of water.

Sara Venning, CEO of NI Water and President of the Institute of Water has a degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering and commented:

“International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to females in this exciting industry. This year, the theme is ‘Engineering Heroes’, to recognise all the female engineering heroes helping us in the world today, protecting the lives and livelihoods that depend upon sustainable infrastructure.”

With latest figures showing that women in engineering are still hugely under-represented, accounting for just 13% of the engineering workforce, NI Water is taking this opportunity to profile 3 of its female engineers by finding out a bit more about their jobs and why they would encourage more females to take up careers in engineering.

Eimear Gourley, a Project Manager from Lisburn, comments “I chose a career in engineering because I am a natural problem solver.   I was one of 3 females to graduate from my Civil Engineering degree class of 36 people. Being in a male dominated industry definitely had its challenges, but I believe females bring a completely different dynamic to a team, which will allow it to go further. 

“When working on a project, I enjoy stakeholder engagement, which ultimately means ensuring everyone who has an involvement or interest in the project is fully aware of the plan and their expectations are managed. 

“My advice to a young girl considering a career in engineering is that your input, no matter the size, will contribute to a developing society. More women are needed in the engineering industry.” 

Rita Bailie, a Chartered Civil Engineer and performing the role of Principal Water Modeller, lives in Newtownards and has this advice “I chose a career in engineering because at school I really enjoyed maths and science subjects.

“My Civil Engineering degree class was 90% male. Being a female and in the minority in the class was never a barrier and there was good camaraderie between everyone. 

“Right now, my team is using hydraulic models to provide better insight into the performance of our water networks and this is informing decisions on how to deliver clean, safe drinking water to customers’ water taps.  

“I would recommend to all women with an interest in STEM subjects to consider engineering as a career. Employers want female engineers because the workplace thrives on diversity and balance.” 

Roisin Connor from Ballinderry who works as Head of Capital Programme Management concludes, “I chose engineering as a career because I held an interest in design and problem solving from watching my Father in his role as an Architect. This was supported by my love for the sciences and mathematics at school. 

“In my current role, I provide reassurance in the delivery of the capital works programme for water and waste water.  In doing so, I am ensuring that we get the best value for publicly funded investment to meet the needs of our customers, whilst protecting our environment. 

“I can’t recommend engineering as a career for young girls enough.  I am a STEM ambassador and mentor others in this field and I would encourage anyone who would like to find out more to reach out to local STEM organisations or your school/college career department.”

NI Water has an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion and is proud to be creating an environment and culture where everyone can achieve their full potential.

A recent recruitment drive has resulted in four new female apprentices joining the organisation, which increases female representation within the frontline workforce.