As part of the #BuildingEquality 2018 Campaign, Laoise Maher of Kerrigan Sheanon Newman (KSN) Project Management, shares her story as a woman in construction.
My name is Laoise, I am a Chartered Civil Engineer and now work in KSN Project Management. When I was in secondary school I had a few ideas about what I might like to do; Bangarda, computer science and hotel management.
Shortly before completing the CAO forms, I met my cousin from the UK for the 1st time. He was a civil engineer and that is where my career in engineering began. I attended CIT initially, completed a Diploma in Civil Engineering, following which I went to work. While working full-time, I attended DIT by night to complete a Degree in Structural Engineering.
By building up my experience in various areas including housing, commercial, industrial, heavy infrastructure (rail and electrical sub-stations), I am now working on a portfolio of school projects as part of our scope of works for the Department of Education and Skills.
I have enjoyed my career throughout, it hasn’t always been plain sailing but it has been very rewarding and worth the effort. Mentoring and role models are very important in all areas but especially so for females in engineering. It is an industry that is still very much dominated by males particularly at middle and senior management level.
Encouraging primary and secondary school girls to pursue engineering can be achieved by hearing our stories. I am hopeful that one of my nieces will pursue engineering as at present she is showing a strong interest. Having completed a weeks work experience with PM Group, she is even more encouraged. Role models and work experience at a young age can encourage entry into the profession. However, I have also known many females who have entered but left the profession. This is an area which requires more focus to provide supports at various stages.
CPD in both technical and softer skills, career progression and clear paths and goals can provide the supports and structure to retain and develop female engineers. Networking groups can be very helpful as an informal method of meeting others and sharing your story, plans, concerns and ambitions.
Apprenticeship are an under used method of training and development in Ireland. Industry, colleges and professional institutions could play a role in this area by developing jointly apprenticeships which could provide positive discrimination with a view to increasing females in all ares of engineering.
To learn more about the #BuildingEquality campaign and to share your own story, please visit our dedicated page here