women in engineering

From left to right Giedre Balciunaite, Rachel Nurse and Grace Astbury

A company with a strong reputation for multiple reasons, Structa has, since its early days, championed the hire of professionals of all genders. We understand and fully embrace the benefit of having a multi-gender team.

In celebration of Women in Engineering Day 2024, we took a moment to sit down and ask Grace, Giedre and Rachel about their experience of the engineering sector, as a woman.

38% of our employees are women. Let’s meet some of them:

Grace Astbury – Principal Engineer

Joined the Structa team on 1st April 2020, having previously worked at a neighbouring Engineering Consultancy.

Having spent almost 6 years at her previous company, Grace felt it was time to further her career with a firm which had strong performance procedures and actively demonstrated a genuine care for its people and local community.

Giedre Balciunaite – Structural Technician

Joined Structa on the 17th January 2022.   Giedre sought a position at a family-friendly engineering consultancy offering hybrid working arrangements, with the opportunity to further develop her Revit skills.

Rachel Nurse – Graduate Structural Engineer

Joined the Structa team on 5th September 2022, having just finished studying her civil engineering degree in Bristol. Rachel was looking to join a company with a positive working environment, to gain experience and further her career.

What do you love about working in this industry and why do you think women might make good engineers?

Giedre : I appreciate working in this industry due to its diverse workforce, where each individual’s unique strengths enhance both project work and the office environment. Women make excellent engineers because of our attention to detail, a critical skill in project execution. Furthermore, we excel in effective communication within and between teams, ensuring that information flows smoothly, leading to successful project outcomes.

Why do you think there are so few women in this industry?

Rachel : I believe that the perception of what an engineer is, is like the image that used to be associated with the word ‘engineer’ which was usually a man on a construction site in a hard hat. When I was studying in college there was no enlightenment on the various roles an engineer could have. It was discouraging that there were few women in leadership positions. Time has passed, and I have seen not only more women, but more races and cultures within the engineering world.

What was it about Structa that turned your head and why are they an inclusive employer?  

Giedre: As a single parent, I am particularly impressed by Structa’s commitment to being a family-friendly company. The flexibility offered by Structa has been invaluable to me, especially when I needed to adjust my working hours due to childcare responsibilities. This accommodation reflects their understanding and support for all employees. Structa truly values the importance of work-life balance, creating an environment where everyone can thrive. Furthermore, I have found Structa to have the best work environment of any company I have worked for. The colleagues are not only friendly but are also always willing to help and share their knowledge.

What did you study to facilitate your career in Engineering, and did you find you were one of few women on your course?

Rachel: I studied a BTEC in Engineering then a BEng in Civil and Environmental Engineering in Bristol and graduated in 2022. In college, I was the only girl on my course and during my BEng less than 10% were women, however fast forward to now taking a part time MSc in Structural Design I can happily say I am 1 of around 10 girls in my class of 30. Things are changing and it is more common now to see female engineers.

How long have you been in Engineering, and do you think more women are joining the profession in recent years?

Grace: I have been working as a Consulting Engineer for 10 years, and I have been at Structa for 4 years. I feel I see more women in the industry now than I did when I was first started working, part of that being because Structa has a larger proportion of women in the structural team than seems typical of SMEs. I know from speaking with the Structa Principals that is likely because they recognise the significant benefits of having a diverse team, and also have worked hard to foster a positive culture of inclusivity, balance and flexibility.

Do you think that it’s hard for women to work and enter into this industry?

Grace: I think that it’s become easier to comfortably work in this industry, and certainly I’ve found at Structa (and heard from colleagues in my team) that gender or being in a minority doesn’t lead to the challenges that a lot of us have faced in our previous firms. However, the reality of my experience, especially when I was younger, is that I’ve had numerous instances where my gender has led to additional challenges. Thankfully, when these rare instances occur, at Structa the Principals take it seriously and react with compassion and understanding. In these recent years of my career, I definitely feel there have been notably more occurrences where I am treated as an equal and feel respected in my role.

Being a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry comes with challenges, but working at a supportive company, such as Structa, means those of any gender, race, sexuality or disability are treated equitably and are truly appreciated for the value this diversity brings the team.