Industry leaders urge "open, candid discussion" on diversity failings in new film

A powerful “talking heads” film launched today to mark the annual Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) conference, is instigating an “open, candid discussion” across the engineering industry about why it fails to attract a wider pool of creative talent, particularly women.

  • Updated: 12 November, 2015
  • Author: Kate Ison

The “Engineering Change” film, produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), see’s leading industry figures –such as Michele Dix from Crossrail 2 and Rachel Skinner from WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff – share their experiences, set out what they think is blocking change and what industry can do to be more inclusive and ensure it attracts a diverse workforce that is reflective of society.

While female applications to ICE are slowly rising, with graduate numbers at 18%, women still only represent 10% of ICE’s total membership and the figure is consistent across the wider engineering community.

The industry leaders in the film discuss the need to make engineering careers more visible, generate more flexible, inclusive work practices that cater to the busy lives of all employees, eliminate unconscious bias against candidates during recruitment, and showcase more women engineers for young people to aspire to – not just women who have reached the top of the career ladder but those who have managed to achieve that and have a family.

They throw down the gauntlet to industry as whole to take action and deliver change that makes joining – and staying – in the industry a more attractive prospect for all.

Miranda Housden, ICE South West Director and producer of the film, said: “Any organisation or profession will be stronger and more creative if it can draw from a wealth of people, backgrounds and experiences, and will better serve its clients and society if it reflects the diversity of our communities.

“But we can only tap into this wider pool by making ourselves more inclusive and attractive, and making this happen is a challenge for the whole industry. We can start with an open, candid discussion about what is holding us back and the steps that can be taken - in both a practical and cultural sense. We hope this film, and the leading inspirational figures who feature in it and want to see change, really kick starts the debate.”

View the video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/E-bllZe0dLY

Get involved in the debate on Twitter using hashtag #engineeringchange

More information

You can hear more from the contributors on diversity in their monologues, which will be made available in December as part of the ICE TALKS campaign. The campaign will also see industry experts talk on other key industry issues.

Contributors to the film

  • Rachel Skinner, Director, Development, WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Dr Jennifer Schooling, Director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
  • Ed McCann, Director, Expedition
  • Dervilla Mitchell, Director, Arup
  • Anne-Marie Tuck, Principal Engineer, Black and Veatch
  • Sarah Shaw, Wise Campaign Communications Director, WISE
  • Nick Baveystock, Director General, Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Joanne Chau, HS2 Senior Area Engineer, High Speed Two (HS2)
  • Jackie Roe, Delivery Manager East, Tideway
  • Nathan Baker, Director of Engineering Knowledge, Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Dr Michèle Dix, Managing Director, Crossrail 2
  • Danna Walker, Project Manager, Construction Industry Council
  • Melanie Ogden, Project Manager, Northern Line Extension, Transport for London

Notes to editors

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is a leading source of professional expertise in transport, water supply and treatment, flood management, waste and energy. Established in 1818, it has 88,000 members, 25% of whom are based overseas. ICE’s vision is to place civil engineering at the heart of society, delivering sustainable development through knowledge, skills and professional expertise. ICE has long worked with the government of the day to help it to achieve its objectives, and has worked with industry to ensure that construction and civil engineering remain major contributors to the UK economy.

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