What is it like to be a woman in civil engineering?
Women Engineers We interviewed Emma Galley, Section Engineer at Skanska and the company’s 2015 Trainee of the Year, to find out what it's like for women in civil engineering.
What is your current role?
I supervise construction work on site. I manage subcontractors and budgets and plan activities to ensure we build things to the highest quality. I’ve recently been involved with the construction of a railway viaduct in Manchester.
What route did you take into civil engineering?
I did A levels in Maths, Physics and Classical Civilisations, then an undergraduate Masters degree in Civil Engineering, but there are many routes available and not all require a degree.
What first piqued your interest in engineering?
I participated in the Engineering Education Scheme during my A levels. I was part of a team tasked with designing a novelty boat lift for an extension of the Grand Union Canal into Daventry. The project involved coming up with a design, building a model and presenting it to the judges. It made me realise I could do something creative with what are traditionally considered quite academic subjects.
What qualities make a great civil engineer?
Communication skills! If you’re designing infrastructure you need to be able to communicate your design to those building it; and equally if you work on site you must be able to communicate well with the team around you.
I’ve worked on the M25 Smart Motorway project, Crossrail and the Northern Hub. However my highlight is having breakfast with the Skanska’s Global CEO, Johan Karlström. It was great to talk with someone who has achieved so much, and it helped me realise that civil engineering will provide me with the opportunity to make a positive impact around the world.
What doors have been opened through civil engineering?
I’m privileged to be an ICE President’s Apprentice to Sir John Armitt. As part of this role, I’ve been helping to produce ICE’s State of the Nation report, which focusses on devolution and how infrastructure can help to deliver its potential. The report will be launched on 30 June.
What might encourage more women into civil engineering?
Realisation of what civil engineers actually do. The infrastructure all around us - such as clean water and energy supply, and transport networks - is designed and maintained by civil engineers, but how many people know that? I’m a STEM Ambassador and I’ve volunteered at the Big Bang Fair to raise awareness.
What’s next, what are your goals?
My next major goal is to gain accreditation as a Chartered civil engineer.