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IStructE's first female president crowned Woman of the Year

Institution of Structural Engineers (IstructE) president Sarah Buck was crowned 'Woman of the Year' last week at an event celebrating women in construction.

The Atkins Inspire awards aims to encourage, recognise and reward exceptional women in the built environment.

Buck is the first woman to be elected President at the IstructE and is on a bid to change the face of structural engineering from being "male, pale and stale".

St Pancras project director for Bechtel Ailie MacAdam won the Inspirational Leader Award for her part in the £5.8bn High Speed 1 project.

To accompany the awards, Atkins commissioned an independent survey of 50 built environment professionals. This showed that flexible working is helping to attract and retain staff in the construction industry.

Two thirds of those questioned believed it is not difficult to accommodate flexible working while a further 17% said it is challenging but not overwhelmingly so for the right staff.

Of the females surveyed, 20% thought that there were no flexible working options available to them.

"Some organisations think it’s incompatible with what we do," said Atkins HR director Alun Griffiths.

"But engineers work on more than one project at any one time and are already playing a balancing act.

"Here, they’re balancing not another project but another commitment. Flexible working is important as these are people that are not retained otherwise."

On average 16% of respondents thought that flexible working was not important as only a small number of staff wanted it. With 22% of female respondents in favour compared to 10% of male respondents, the results showed a clear split between the sexes.

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