Who said a leopard cannot change its spots? Well that bastion of male chauvinism, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), has done exactly that. With just one in seven engineering graduates female, the boys and girls at 1 Great George Street, Westminster have been working hard in recent years to make the profession more attractive to young women. It’s working too. According to my wife who is a civil engineer (did I say civil?) the construction world is better for it and has become a good place for women to work.
What’s more, along the way, the ICE has discovered that part of the solution is to increase engineering’s appeal to young people in general. Many really thrive in a work environment that awash with electronic tools and gadgets – engineering has the lot!
If you go to YouTube and search for ‘Engineering happiness’ you will see the civil engineers behind some of London’s most iconic infrastructure projects who have put on their dancing shoes to show the public – young people in particular – how happy they are to be engineers and the diverse and exciting careers on offer through choosing maths and science subjects at school.
Yes, they’re all boppin’ to the Pharrell Williams hit song ‘Happy’. Look out for the slim, tall dude in a Panama hat. That’s Sir John Armitt, who led the delivery of the London 2012 Olympics. He’s certainly happy. And why not? Civil engineers have a leading role in planning, designing, building and running practically the entire built environment we live in.
Please take a look, tell your friends and spread a little happiness. And do encourage any youngsters you know with maths and science ability to take these subjects that open doors to rewarding technical occupations.
Adrian Young, Editor and Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers