Environment Agency chief executive Paul Leinster heads a list of industry bosses declaring themselves feminists this week in the name of throwing light on the issue of gender inequality in the sector.
Leinster was responding to a renewed call from NCE for chief executives to speak up as feminists as a bold statement of leadership on the issue.
Leinster was joined by other leading figures including Atkins global chief executive Uwe Kruger, Aecom president, design & consulting services – America Tom Bishop, Tony Gee chief executive Graham Nicholson, UK Green Building Council chief executive Paul King and WSP UK managing director Mark Naysmith.
Said Naysmith: “I have actively championed the feminist cause both within WSP and to the wider industry audience for many years and will continue to do so.
“Our industry has, and will continue to change and become a more attractive career for all genders,” he said.
Added Nicholson: “Of course I’m a feminist and I’m absolutely sure we promote feminism here at Tony Gee.
“The industry though needs to move to more flexible working if we are to attract more women into it and that takes a shift in current attitudes and changes in the industry’s working culture,” he said.
They join a high profile list of industry bosses who have spoken to NCE in 2014 to declare their support for our Engineering Equality initiative.
Highways Agency chief executive Graham Dalton, Thames Tideway Tunnel chief executive Andy Mitchell and Aecom EMEA chief executive Steve Morriss have all set out in NCE why they think it is important to speak out.
Said Morriss in Septmber: “I would absolutely describe myself a feminist.”
Challenging any who presume that the term carries negative connotations, he said that his understanding of feminism was clear and that describing himself as a feminist also demonstrated his commitment to tackling “ignorance and prejudice”.
Consultant Aecom is one of the largest engineering design firms in the world, and Morriss takes the view that having a feminist outlook is vital to the success of the company which operates in more than 150 different countries.
“Ignorance and prejudice are things which get in the way of us and our clients doing the right thing and improving society,” said Morriss. “[Feminism] is a name which reflects our support for society - I can’t see many who would stand against that.”
NCE Graduate of the Year on feminism
NCE Graduate of the Year Sophie McPhillips has urged more industry leaders to join NCE’s Engineering Equality campaign by speaking up as feminists.
McPhillips is a proud feminist, and said she sees the value in visible and public displays of support in reversing the construction industry’s attitudes towards equality.
“I’m proud that I’ve overcome the barriers and beaten the statistics to be a successful woman in engineering. But it’s easy to forget those barriers once you’re here, and we need to do more to break them down for future generations,” she said.
“I’d say to anyone sitting on the sidelines, thinking feminism and equality in engineering isn’t their problem, needs to wake up.
“A diverse workforce is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s essential if we are going to tackle diverse engineering challenges, and we should all be doing our part.”