Minister for Youth and Women's Employment, Annabelle Ewing MSP met with just a few of the women involved in designing and building the Queensferry Crossing to mark National Women in Engineering Day. Her visit celebrated their contribution to Scotland's biggest infrastructure project in a generation and recognised their achievements in the engineering sector.
The Minister heard at first-hand how rewarding a career in civil engineering can be as well as exploring real and perceived barriers for women in the industry. She also learned about the sheer variety of roles that civil engineers undertake.
STEM education in our schools is vital, for young people's participation in the economy, as well as modern life. It Is vital that they, in particular women, are encouraged and are made aware of the opportunities open to them.
Annabelle Ewing MSP said: "I am delighted to spend National Women in Engineering Day with some of the incredible talents working on the Queensferry Crossing. Projects like this are a wonderful and inspiring example to all pupils, students and apprentices – male and female – that there are opportunities to be part of the most important projects in Scotland today.
"Quite rightly we talk a lot about our country's impressive legacy of scientific and engineering discovery, but we need to be clear that there is exciting, challenging and pioneering work happening across Scotland right now and it is calling out for gifted young people. There is more work to do, but we are getting there. Science subjects were among the most popular National 5 and Higher qualifications this year and our colleges, universities and apprenticeship programmes are offering a greater variety of routes into the sector.
"National Women in Engineering Day is being marked across Scotland and celebrating the role models for the next generation that will shape our scientific and engineering landscape. Working together we can help the STEM sectors look at what more it can do to attract and retain women to make it stronger and continue as a globally respected powerhouse industry."
Sara Thiam, Regional Director for ICE Scotland, said: "We need to get the message over that a career in engineering can be an enjoyable and varied one for women. University is just one of the routes into the industry with apprenticeships becoming increasingly attractive to young people who don't want to take on student debt."
"As we emerge from a recession those who design, build and maintain Scotland's infrastructure are very much in demand. We need to ensure that the industry is an inviting one for women, and that they understand the variety of roles on offer."
Lawrence Shackman, Project Manager for the Forth Replacement Crossing, said: "It is up to all of us to champion and support welcoming more women engineers into the profession. Supporting more women into the industry is not only the right thing to do, it's good business sense and makes for more effective and sustainable project delivery."