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There's a need for more visibility of women in leadership, climate expert says

16 October 2023

ICE Connects hosted ‘an audience with’ guest speakers Dr Tara Shine, Col Dame Kelly Holmes MBE and host Sally Magnusson.

There's a need for more visibility of women in leadership, climate expert says
The panel consisted of Dr Tara Shine, Dame Kelly Holmes and host Sally Magnusson.

“Visibility is about using your voice to create the change you want to see in the world," said Dr Tara Shine, world-leading environmental scientist, speaking at the latest ICE Connects event.

“Making these changes gives you power; sharing them gives you influence,” said Dr Shine, who's a former member of the United Nations Framework Convention. 

She spoke alongside Col Dame Kelly Holmes MBE, two-time Olympic gold medallist, at 'an audience with' event hosted by broadcaster Sally Magnusson on 12 October.

The ICE Connects event provided an opportunity to hear from women who have achieved success in their own professions and to learn about some of the challenges that transform sectors and inspire our infrastructure leaders.

“If you don’t put yourself in the mix, you’re never going to get there. In life, it is about growth and experience,” Dame Kelly Holmes said.

ICE Fellowship aligns with Holmes’ sentiment, recognising the significant contribution civil engineers, and associated professionals, make to society through their experience and achievements as leaders.

Fellowship is the highest grade of membership offered by the ICE and a professional accolade respected around the world, yet this grade does not fully reflect the increasing proportion of women in other parts of the membership.

With the infrastructure industry striving to embrace wider diversity – harnessing the best talent to solve huge global challenges – the drive for inclusivity is key.

The value of visibility

As the third annual event of its kind, last week’s event theme of ‘visibility’ built on the previous year’s theme of ‘using your voice’.

The importance of women working collaboratively to spur change was mentioned and inspiring discussions among the attendees echoed the value of visibility in making a difference.

Referencing visible women leaders in civil engineering, a traditionally male dominated space, Holmes said: “Someone like me would be inspired by civil engineers like you.”

The ICE Connects: Women in Fellowship network regularly hosts events that share experiences from ICE fellows and leaders in infrastructure, as well as allies in other industries who work to create platforms advocating for increased diversity at senior levels.

Creating a platform for women in leadership

The ICE Connects: Women in Fellowship focus group is working to diversify membership demographics at the highest level, and actively encourage members to shine a light on their own achievements by applying for fellowship.

Hosting a range of activities and events to spotlight the importance of inclusivity and diversity – not only in leadership positions, but across the infrastructure industry as a whole – is a vital part of ICE Connects work.

These events and broadcasts present opportunities to hear from those visibly advocating for women in infrastructure.

The ICE Connects network strives to provide inspiration for women to share their expertise and experience, across the spectrum of the ICE’s work, and to encourage others into their next step in professional development.

As outlined by Sally Magnusson, this series of small steps will “continue to grow this expert group of [ICE] members.”

Growing the ICE Women in Fellowship network

Dr Michèle Dix CBE, ICE Connects: Women in Fellowship chair, said “You should consider becoming a women fellow for the opportunities that being a part of that network offers.”

Dr Dix, recently announced as a new commissioner for the National Infrastructure Commission, outlined the support this network offers.

It helps build connections and link with others who can provide mentoring and provides ongoing support that enables you to champion what you’re doing throughout your career.

The women this network is made up of not only support each other, share best-practices and mentor those looking to apply for fellowship, but work together to inspire future female engineers.

Events such as last week’s ICE Connects annual ‘an audience with’ contribute toward fostering this network, using communal feedback to develop an ongoing programme of activity for Women in Fellowship.

Find out more about becoming an ICE fellow.

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