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Midlands region gets its first chairwoman

ICE news

ARUP ASSOCIATE director Christina Jackson took over the chairmanship of ICE Midlands earlier this month.

She is the first woman to occupy the position in the region's 84 year history.

Her main aim for the coming year is to promote the work of civil engineering to a wider audience.

'Our members are at the forefront of contributing to the region's development and helping to shape its future, ' she said.

'During my year in office I will be initiating debate with other organisations on key issues facing the region and how we can work together for the benefit of all, ' said Jackson.

She has already planned a series of debates where a panel of up to five experts will discuss topics with a cross society audience.

'The panel will consist of different stakeholders where only one will be a civil engineer, to attract the broadest possible audience, ' said Jackson.

The first of these will be on the future of Birmingham entitled Strategic Links - in 2020 will Birmingham be a national hub or backwater? It will be run in conjunction with the Railway Civil Engineers Association.

Other panel discussions are planned for the new year with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institution of Highways & Transportation.

Jackson has already held talks with the West Midlands Regional Assembly (WMRA) chief executive Trudi Elliot to try to align the ICE Midlands State of the Nation Report with the West Midlands Observatory state of the region report.

Jackson said that the Regional Assembly's report, which is largely statistical, would compliment or contrast with the opinions expressed by the ICE to form a powerful platform for debate.

Jackson also hopes to wave the flag for female engineers with children who want to work part time.

As a mother of two, she has worked part time since her first daughter was born in 1990.

She became associate director during this time, a decision which she believes shows how much her role is still valued by Arup.

'It's tough, but it's working.

With modern technology such as video-conferencing there's no bar to part-timers making a major contribution.

'The challenge for management in UK companies is to find appropriate roles so that talented and trained people aren't lost from the workplace, ' said Jackson.

'You can't put part timers on the front line and expect them to do 70-hour weeks, but there are other roles and tasks which they can take on, ' she added.

Jackson is a geotechnical engineer and is currently project director for a limestone mine stabilisation project in Dudley. She also works on motorway projects in Ireland.

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