MEP Conference: Women in MEP in the Middle East
The region still has a long way to go compared to China where 40% of engineers are women
It was pointed out in a the panel discussion on the representation of women in the MEP industry in the Middle East that if you look at the world’s top brands, you will find a high percentage of women not only working in them but also managing them.
It was also noted that in China 40% of engineers are women.
“It’s still obvious that females are a minority in this industry. But it’s also really hard to compare in this region one country with another,” said Rana Itani, senior building physicist at Ramboll. “So you have got Saudi Arabia where the governmental policies make it difficult for a woman to work in the technical field. Then again in Dubai you have got a lot of really great local initiatives coming up such as the Minister of Women’s Affairs that has appeared, and we are hoping this will promote and increase the number of females in technical fields.”
The panel discussed the importance of female role models to attract more women into engineering.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” said Irene Montserrat, senior building physicist at Aecom. “The next generation of women need to be inspired.
“A lot drop their careers in engineering as they think their skills are not good enough or they think they don’t fit in engineering.”
Itani encouraged women engineers to seek out mentors where possible.
“As a female engineer, you don’t always have the luxury of having a female mentor,” she said. “So I would encourage women in engineering to seek out mentorship even in male mentors. It should be gender neutral.”
The panel noted several gender diversification initiatives their respective companies have in place. Bushra Anwar, principle electrical engineer – building services – at SSH Design, said that when she was working in the UK she was the sole female engineer in the company.
“But comparatively in this region I do see quite a lot of female engineers; so I think the initiatives are there,” she added. “Also in my previous company we used to take on students from schools or colleges – both from male or female – on apprenticeships.
“One of the root causes of less females in engineering is because we don’t have enough support. We need to encourage that from school age.”