Female engineers gather to celebrate the Tyne Bridge turning 90

ICE North East championed women in engineering at the Newcastle and Gateshead bridge, which was designed by Dorothy Buchanan.

Engineers from across the UK gathered to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Tyne Bridge.
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Engineers from across the UK gathered to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Tyne Bridge.

More than 90 female engineers from across the country gathered in Newcastle today to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Tyne Bridge, and the female engineer behind the design. 

ICE North East organised the special 'Women in Engineering' event on the anniversary of the bridge’s historic, ceremonial opening by King George V in 1928, as part of the ICE’s 200th anniversary celebrations.

The day also celebrated Dorothy Buchanan, the first female member of the ICE, and a member of the Dorman Long team that worked on the Tyne Bridge in the late 1920s.

Ms Buchanan was a pioneer of her time, joining the ICE in 1927. In addition to her contribution to the Tyne Bridge, she served as part of the team for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Lambeth Bridge in London.


Thousands of women have since followed in her engineering footsteps to carve out successful careers, and ICE currently has more than 8,000 female members worldwide.

New research

The ‘Women in Engineering’ event also saw the launch of a longitudinal research project by Northumbria University and the ICE, to track the career progression of 200 female and 200 male civil engineers at three-year intervals.

The survey aims to gather invaluable and unique insights into how women and men progress in the profession. It also hopes to identify any barriers to progression and show that civil engineering is a career for everyone.

Regional director of ICE North East, Penny Marshall, said: “The North East has very strong connections to civil engineering and we're delighted to celebrate not only the Tyne Bridge’s 90th ​anniversary, but also Dorothy’s contribution to the creation of such an iconic structure.

“Talking about female engineers from the past and the present helps young women today see that STEM careers are not only achievable, but also desirable.”

Vikki Edmondson, senior lecturer in Civil Engineering at Northumbria University and an ICE Fellow, added: “Women have carved out successful careers in civil engineering for decades now, as is exemplified by Dorothy Buchanan’s contribution to the creation of the Tyne Bridge. 

“We want to celebrate the contribution and impact that female engineers continue to make in the field and reaffirm that engineering is a profession open to anyone, regardless of gender.”

The event also included a talk from Dr Jamie L Callahan, professor of Leadership and Human Resource Development at Newcastle University.