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9 female civil engineers leading the way in the industry

18 July 2022

From leading major engineering projects to TV appearances, these women inspire young girls wishing to follow in their steps.

9 female civil engineers leading the way in the industry
There are many women leading in civil engineering. Here are nine great examples.

Today we look at nine inspirational women – the trailblazers, innovators, and creators – who show that women shouldn’t be dismissed as leaders of the future in civil engineering.

1. Louise Hardy

Image of Louise Hardy
Image credit: Louise Hardy

Louise Hardy is a non-executive director of infrastructure organisations, including Balfour Beatty plc. She’s responsible for some of the most incredible infrastructure projects in the UK.

During her time as infrastructure director at Laing O’Rourke, Louise managed a £2bn portfolio for the London 2012 Olympic Park.

Louise regularly dedicates time to sharing her love of civil engineering with students, helping to inspire the next generation of civil engineers.

ICE Connects recently launched its ‘Women in Fellowship’ networking event.

With success in projects ranging from HS1 (high-speed one) to her appointment as European project excellence director for AECOM, ICE is proud to count her among our fellows.

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2. Dawn Childs

Dawn Childs
Image credit: Dawn Childs

Dawn Childs is the chief executive officer of operations at the Pure Data Centre Group.

Her career is as diverse as it’s impressive, including engineering disciplines such as aeronautical, mechanical, and civil engineering.

Dawn was the first female engineer to take up several officer posts in the Royal Air Force and became the first female head of engineering at Gatwick Airport.

For those who might say engineers’ careers can’t be fun – think again. Dawn has been responsible for overseeing the governance and standards of over 120 theme parks and attractions.

Dawn is also a prominent advocate of STEM learning and inspires girls year on year to consider a career in civil engineering.

3. Dr Priti Parikh

Dr Priti Parikh
Image credit: Dr Priti Parikh

Dr Priti Parikh is an associate professor at University College London and head of Engineering for the International Development Centre.

She’s been recognised as one of the most influential academics in government by Apolitical.

After spending 12 years working on major infrastructure projects in India and the UK, Dr Priti pursued a PhD, where she studied the impact of infrastructure in slumps in India and townships in South Africa.

Dr Priti’s dedication to inclusive infrastructure has led her to inaugurate an MSc programme in Engineering for International Development (EFID) at the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction.

If that’s not enough to keep her busy, Dr Priti is a stand-up comedian in her spare time!

4. Ayo Sokale

Ayo Sokale
Image credit: Ayo Sokale

Ayo Sokale, project team manager at the Environment Agency, has already achieved an astounding amount in her career.

She’s been nominated for The Telegraph’s Top 50 Women in Engineering Under 35 (WE50), in partnership with the Women’s Engineering Society (WES).

In 2018, she was one of our President’s Future Leaders, making her a fitting role model for young women who aspire to make a difference in the industry.

Ayo has also turned her hand to politics, having been elected as a candidate for Caversham in 2019.

As a keynote speaker, she’s continued to demonstrate her dedication to social causes in her industry.

She frequently highlights the importance of Black, female, and neurodiverse representation within the industry.

If that’s not enough, Ayo has also featured as a BBC Bitesize Science presenter – we can’t wait to see what she does next!

5. Roni Savage

Roni Savage profile image
Image credit: Roni Savage

In a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Roni Savage said: ‘If I had to start again, I’d be bolder from day one.’

So far, she’s founded Jomas Associates, a company of environmental and engineering specialists, and provided Sir Alan Sugar with expert advice in the 2019 final of the Apprentice.

Most recently, she spoke out against social mobility lead Katharine Birbalsingh’s controversial comments about girls and women in STEM.

We think that’s all pretty bold and inspiring, for starters!

Roni became an ICE Fellow in 2019 and was recently shortlisted for the Veuve Clicquot’s 2022 Bold Woman Award, which celebrates excellence in female leadership.

6. Jennifer Stables

Jennifer Stables
Image credit: Jennifer Stables

Jennifer Stables is a senior engineer and project and design manager at AECOM.

Although Jennifer began her career in structural engineering, her current role has taken her to Qatar, where she has project managed key engineering projects.

The Al Wahda Arches, a new palace complex for the Emir (King), and an extension of the airport are just a few examples.

Her work on the Qatar Inner Doha Resewrage Implementation Scheme –part of the Qatari National Vision 2030 – is among her proudest achievements.

Jennifer is an active member of ICE. She’s currently chair and representative for Qatar, an ICE trustee and recently joined the New Civil Engineer Advisory Board.

7. Claire Gott

Claire Gott MBE is the UK head of industry at WSP.

At the age of just 17, while helping rebuild an orphanage in Tanzania, Claire realised she wanted to be a civil engineer.

Her passion for social responsibility saw her establish the independent charity Cameroon Catalyst alongside a fellow student while the two were studying at Southampton University.

Her career has led her to work on diverse and challenging projects, including the redevelopment of London Bridge Station, HS2, and the Rosalind-Franklin Laboratory that helped in the battle against Covid-19.

Claire champions sustainability and is also deeply passionate about changing the face of civil engineering by encouraging more women to join the industry.

8. Rachel Skinner

Rachel Skinner
Image credit: Rachel Skinner CBE

Rachel Skinner CBE is an executive director at WSP and a former president of ICE.

Named as one of the Daily Telegraph’s Top 50 Women in Engineering, Rachel has worked on high-profile strategic transport projects.

She also established the ‘Women in Transport Network’ in 2005 and became the youngest president in ICE’s over 200-year history.

During her term at ICE, Rachel focused her presidential theme on the climate emergency, launching the films Shaping Zero and What are you going to do?.

These films had experts worldwide, including Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, discuss the actions civil engineers can take to reduce carbon emissions from infrastructure.

This year, Rachel received a CBE for services to infrastructure. She was also given an honorary degree from the University of Leeds.

9. Dervilla Mitchell

Dervilla Mitchell
Image credit: Dervilla Mitchell

Dervilla Mitchell HonCBE is a director and deputy chair of Arup.

She’s headed multi-disciplinary engineering projects including Portcullis House, Westminster and led the management and design of Heathrow airport’s terminal 5.

She was also a project director for a 2-billion-dollar airport development in Abu Dhabi.

As a student, she was just one of four female engineers in a class of 200. A statistic which, thanks to the leadership example set by Dervilla and other outstanding female engineers, is becoming a thing of the past.

We want to hear from you

Do you know a female engineer who is setting an incredible leadership example? Comment on our Twitter or LinkedIn channel to celebrate a female engineer making a difference in our industry.

  • Jessica Beasley, communications executive at ICE