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We're proud that an above average 30%* of the Bryden Wood team are talented women. In advance of International Women's Day on the 8th March, we asked some of our female architects, engineers and designers to share their thoughts on being women in construction in 2020.
'International Women’s Day is quite a big topic in the industry because there are more men in leading roles. It is more male dominated at the moment, but I don’t think it’s something that can’t change and I would say that it’s becoming more of a nice mix. I see more and more women participating, especially coming from academia and those joining the industry too.
The ethos of the office at Bryden Wood is very good and very strong in terms of letting everybody, both men and women, participate and provide opinions that are heard.
We’re working on a bigger effort here...trying to demystify the [robotics] technology for as many people as possible, so that we are all on the same page as we try to implement and adopt it within the construction industry... If we’re talking about offsite construction, automation is essential to scale up. I think it’s really important to rethink the construction process and that’s where robotics and advanced fabrication technologies help.’
'I feel that there’s nothing that can stop me. I'm very young and I’ve just started out, but I don’t want to always have in the back of my head that it might be more difficult because I’m a woman. I feel that we’re all equal, so I go with that.'
'Being part of the computational design team where we are introducing new technologies and methodologies, I have found people to be very open and there aren’t any preconceptions because I’m a woman, which is great. And at Bryden Wood, we are all equals. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. We’re all colleagues and we’re encouraged to go out there and be proactive.'
'I’m a mechanical engineer. I work on building services. We design heating, air conditioning & ventilation for all the buildings that we work on. I enjoy the challenge. A lot of it is problem solving and working together with the wider Bryden Wood team, which I really enjoy. It’s well suited to my personality, because I like getting into the detail of things. I’m a very maths and science based thinker, so it’s the area that I enjoy.
I didn’t really think about [being female] until I got into the workplace. In terms of going into engineering, I came from an all-girls school. Actually, a lot of my friends went into the role. It was very normal to do engineering. I didn’t really think about it as a male dominated thing, it was just something that suited my personality and that I enjoy. Obviously, since I went to university and into the workplace, there aren’t a lot of females in the industry, but it's not something I generally think about. Especially in this environment, where there are a lot of females. There are a lot of female architects. We all work together on a project… it’s more of an even split in this office and we’re all working together and bringing the same sort of things to the table.
I think the kinds of projects we get involved with [at Bryden Wood] are really interesting - the areas that we look into, the DfMA aspect of things. I think as an engineer it presents a greater challenge. I think this company challenges the architects to push the envelope a bit more. We don’t just go with the standard tried and true designs. We have to be stretched to prove something will work, which obviously makes it more challenging. But in the end, we are potentially the only people that can deliver that kind of solution because we do have a whole multidisciplinary approach to things. I enjoy that aspect of it.'
'I joined the industry when I was 16. I was straight from school. I didn’t fancy A-levels and I didn’t fancy tech college so I went straight into a job and I did day release... So my first memories of being in construction was entering into a class of forty men and me. [Laughs]
As the years have gone on, more women have entered which is really great. Working at Bryden Wood, there are more women within the team at all different levels, which is really great to see. It’s a great industry to be in. You can be doing anything. You can be involved in healthcare, you can be involved in humanitarian levels, through to quite heavy engineering for dams and things like that, which can physically change people’s lives. So it’s a great time to be in it. Within Bryden Wood I don’t feel that there are any blockers. I have felt it in other companies that I’ve worked, but no. I think there are enough [female] role models at very very senior levels that there aren’t any blockers within it.
There are enough examples of extremely great women out there who are doing some really really great things, that people don’t see it as men and women, just your colleagues, and that’s where we’ve needed to get to and I think that’s where we’re at.
To a young woman considering a role in engineering, I would say, ‘do it.’ It will take you wherever you want to go. If you want to stay local to your area, you can. There are enough opportunities out there to stay local. But, if you want to travel the world, it will also give you that ability. So just try it. It’s great. You can make it however you want. There is enough diversity within the industry to allow people to thrive in all different aspects.
What makes Bryden Wood different is that they aren’t afraid to try things. They aren’t afraid to rip up the rule book and say, ‘Why are we doing it this way?’ That’s what I like. I like the way that they will look at something and say, ‘Right, ok. How can we make this better?’
Also, with the DfMA aspects - making sites safer, making it so that pieces of the F frame for example...are lightweight and can be easily put into place (that it can be built like an IKEA piece of furniture on the deck and lifted in), that’s what I like. I like the way that we don’t say no to anything.'
‘I think that finding women working in construction now is much more normal than it was years ago, especially in the architecture sector. Here at Bryden Wood, there’s no differentiation at all. We actually even have some design teams that are all women. You can find women in all different positions from Assistant to Director, so it’s very good.’
'I am enjoying how the industry is changing and becoming more diverse in general. The most important thing is to enjoy your job. It’s about being a good engineer.'
'At Bryden Wood it’s all about the role you have in the project and not whether you are a woman or not. Overall in the office, it’s still probably more men, especially when you look at all the disciplines, but when you look at the architectural team we are completely balanced...
If you are a young woman starting out in architecture, being a woman shouldn’t stop you pursuing your career. It’s exciting and very creative. In this office, we get to do so many different things and work on so many different types of buildings.’
* - Bryden Wood's female architects make up 54% of the architectural team, which is significantly higher than the Architects' Journal stats for AJ100 practices in 2019, which states the average to be 34%
Bryden Wood's female engineers make up 14% of the team, which is higher than the Women's Engineering Society's stats for 2018, which gives a figure of 12.37% female engineers in the UK