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ICE president calls on role models to shape the future of the institution

08 March 2024

Professor Anusha Shah, Claire Gott and Chris Caves joined host Dr Michѐle Dix CBE at the latest ICE Connects event.

ICE president calls on role models to shape the future of the institution
L-R: Dr Michèle Dix CBE, ICE President Professor Anusha Shah, Chris Caves, Claire Gott and Jo Moffatt.

ICE President Professor Anusha Shah has issued a call to action, encouraging members to “be capable, empathetic, and visible role models at all levels, be the ambassador for the profession”.

“Someone who can shape the future of the institution, the industry and wider society,” she said.

Professor Shah was speaking at the second ICE Connects: growing women in Fellowship event of its kind, which seeks to encourage women and other underrepresented groups to become ICE Fellows.

Professor Shah is the senior director for resilient cities and UK climate change adaptation lead at Arcadis.

She spoke alongside Claire Gott MBE, UK head of industry and deputy head of structures at WSP, and Chris Caves, an advocate for diversity and north transport group leader at Arup.

The event was hosted by Dr Michèle Dix CBE, the chair of ICE Connects: Women in Fellowship.

All speakers highlighted the importance of diversity – not only in leadership positions, but across the infrastructure industry as a whole.

Over 300 participants joined the event either in person in London or from other regional Arup venues, or online. The event had registrations from South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Oman, Kuwait, and more.

Increasing representation of infrastructure leadership

Fellowship is the highest grade of membership offered by the ICE and a professional accolade respected around the world.

However, this grade doesn’t fully reflect the increasing proportion of women in other parts of the membership.

The panel agreed on the need for increased representation of women at Fellowship level and across the breadth of the engineering professions.

They echoed the messaging of the ICE Connects focus group, who advocate for diversity across the infrastructure leadership landscape.

Speaking to this effect, Caves said: “This is not just a focus on women in Fellowship but is actually part of a much more significant movement to ensure that we will have female representation at senior level across projects, professional bodies and the organisations to which we all belong.”

International Women’s Day

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is 'Invest in women', which aligns with this ICE Connects initiative to boost the representation of women in leadership.

Reflecting on the ICE’s contribution to attracting more women into the field in general, ICE director general and secretary, Janet Young, said:

“There's no denying that there's still progress to be made, but we must also acknowledge how far we've come through diligent efforts to attract more women to the industry.

“Our initiatives such as STEM Ambassadors, CityZen, and recently, the Girlguiding partnership, are helping encourage girls to pursue not just civil engineering, but STEM careers in general.”

Fostering a culture of diversity

Caves spoke on his own reflection of the ICE’s approach to fostering diversity.

He said: “I am really encouraged as we talk today with ICE Connects about gender in the area of Fellowship, that the ICE continues to focus on diversity in all its forms, including broadening our industry to encourage those from all social backgrounds and those who are neurodiverse.”

“We continue to need inspiring role models to step forward and share their experiences, to provide the opportunities for all potential civil and infrastructure engineers to see that ‘someone like me’ is out there doing the job and enjoying it.”

The ICE Connects: Women in Fellowship network continues to promote and share experiences from ICE Fellows and diverse leaders across infrastructure and other sectors.

This is to ensure that different minds, from various backgrounds, can bring their viewpoints and experience to vital conversations within leadership.

It’s vital to foster a culture within the civil and infrastructure engineering industry that embraces diversity.

“There is no typical ICE Fellow, it’s important to say that,” said Gott, speaking to the part all need to play in promoting diversity across ICE Fellowship. “It’s our job to be role models for the next generation of Fellows.”

Continuing to grow the ICE Women in Fellowship network

Dr Michèle Dix CBE said: “You [women] should consider becoming a Fellow for the opportunities that being a part of that network offers.”

The network aims to celebrate and encourage connection among women who support each other, champion their success, and work to increase visibility of the need for diversity across infrastructure leadership.

Events such as this one contribute not only towards fostering this network but encourage individuals to grow their own to develop the ongoing movement for women in Fellowship.

Find out more about becoming an ICE Fellow.

  • Jessica Shardlow, communications lead – UK regions at Institution of Civil Engineers