International Women in Engineering Day

23 Jun
Today marks the 9th anniversary of International Women in Engineering Day, which takes place every year on June 23rd.

In a historically male-dominated sector, we wanted to shine a light on two talented females, who both play pivotal roles within the Groundforce Shorco technical team of engineers. Read their full stories below and see what they have to say to the female engineers of the future.

Meet Emma McKeen, she has been a Design Manager here at Groundforce Shorco for over 10 years. Prior to this role Emma worked her way from Graduate Engineer through to Senior Engineer. I caught up with her to learn a little more about , why she chose engineering, her journey so far, and her advice for the next generation.

How did your journey into engineering begin?

When I was at school, I always enjoyed maths and problem solving. I was not sure at the time what the career for me was but I thought engineering sounded like a move in the right direction, based on my interests. In order to be certain that it was the right career for me; I opted to do my HND in Civil Engineering first. I enjoyed both the practical and theoretical sides to the course and decided to take the next step, a degree in civil engineering.

What did you notice about being a female within the early days of your studies & career?

Throughout my HND and degree courses, I was the only female delegate. When I started, there was no ‘trend’ to being a civil engineer. However, I can see that now there are more females joining the engineering industry, which is fantastic.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in engineering?

Some of the challenges I have faced include; ability to feel heard, feeling valued, work-life balance (especially post-child birth) and self-esteem. One thing I have noticed is people of a certain generation asking to speak with male engineers specifically – although, this has definitely improved over the years.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

I initially got my job with Groundforce amidst the recession (January 2009) which was a challenge in itself, I was the first female engineer employed by the company and have worked my way from Graduate Engineer to Design Manager. Specific achievements have been leading and growing the core shoring team, producing over 350 new designs a month. This led me to move to Scotland to set out a design office for the core shoring team in Glasgow.

What advice would you give to the female engineers of the future?

Key things to remember: never underestimate yourself, never stop learning, there will be plenty of opportunities for you in engineering and no matter what your age, gender, race or ability you should follow your dreams. 

This is Vicky Mastoridou, Development Manager at Groundforce Shorco for almost 3 years now. Continue reading to learn a little more about Vicky’s journey as a female in the engineering world and her thoughts for the future women in the industry.

How did your journey into engineering begin?

As a child, I was travelling a lot with my family. I found myself excited and interested in different structures, whether it was a multi-story building or a small picturesque cottage. Even the country roads that lead into spaghetti junctions had me asking questions. I wanted to know how they were built and how I could be involved in the future.

In history, infrastructures for worship and sanitation were greatly valued, today we appreciate improvements in highway construction that result in reduced travel time and cycle routes into cities. The value of infrastructure has always been apparent to me and that made me want to be a part of it.

How have you found being a woman in engineering?

I do not feel any different, being a woman in engineering. This to me is normality and I encourage all women to forget any stereotypes they may be faced with and believe in themselves. However, when I am the only woman in an engineering meeting, it can feel as though I won’t taken seriously and I am conscious that the representation of women in engineering is somewhat higher in other countries than in the UK.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in engineering?

Sometimes in a male-dominated sector it can feel a struggle to be heard which can have an impact on your self-esteem. One of the key things I am aware of is breaking down misconceptions around women’s abilities and knowledge within the sector. A common issue faced by women in the engineering field is that hours can be unsociable and for those wanting to balance work and families it can be an additional struggle.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?
  • Gaining my MEng in Civil Engineering in 2012
  • Gaining my MSc in Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development in 2013
  • Designing the 10m Aluminium Bridge for Groundforce Bridge in 2017
  • Becoming the Development Manager and an Accredited BIM Professional in 2019.
  • Introducing the 813 tube in 2021 shifting the demand of a heavier product.
  • Joining the CIM Training scheme in 2022
What advice would you give to the female engineers of the future?

I cannot imagine doing anything other than engineering, no two days and no two designs are ever the same. Engineering is full of challenges that require a variety of individuals to overcome them. Key things to remember: do not underestimate yourself, get out of your comfort zone and keep on learning, you will succeed.

I would just like to say thank you to my team and line manager for supporting me throughout my career and helping me to become a better engineer.

We are proud to have such inspirational women on our team of engineering experts here at Groundforce and we wish them a happy International Women in Engineering Day!

If you are considering a career in engineering, please visit our careers page to see what opportunities are available