24th June 2024

#Enhancedbyengineers: “Compassion is a superpower”


On Sunday, the world marked International Women in Engineering Day, with this year’s theme recognising how people’s lives are ‘enhanced by engineers’.

INWED is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the amazing work that our engineers, and engineers worldwide, are doing to make people’s lives happier and healthier, and to build a better and more sustainable future.

But it’s also a vitally important waypoint to call attention to the barriers that still exist in the industry and discuss what more needs to be done to make our world and the built environment more equal, diverse and inclusive.

This week we’re hearing perspectives across our team, including Nikki Johnston, principal engineer in our Edinburgh studio:

Nikki: “I’ve witnessed firsthand the positive impact that engineering can have on communities with the regeneration of my childhood area, Northfield Grove in Edinburgh – one of Civic Engineers’ projects.

“The area has been transformed from a drab neighbourhood into one centred around the community, with a meandering pathway, play parks, raingardens and offshoots to communal places. I took my four-year-old daughter for a walk there and it was amazing to see her exploring and so interested in the different flowers and bumble bees. Northfield has always had a strong community, but seeing the way that the new spaces are bringing people together adds a layer of warmth that I don’t believe was there before. Now there are children playing and elderly people sharing a coffee and a conversation. Everything feels integrated.

“Where and how we live, work, socialise and travel plays such a big part in our mental and physical wellbeing. Engineers have an immense responsibility to develop places and spaces that work for all, from all ages, backgrounds, cultures and communities, and people with health conditions and impairments too.

“Diverse voices add so much value and are crucial for enhancing the built environment. I’m passionate about above ground water sources, like swales or multiuse dry basins, for example. Being able to see water and interacting with it, and for children to be able to play in wetlands, has countless health and wellbeing benefits. Positive change is gathering momentum, and we’re starting to see guidance opening to allow more progressive solutions, and a greater understanding of the need for biodiversity and amenity value. Having more diversity in the industry is helping to feed into this shift and creating a better future.

“As a builder’s daughter, I always wanted to be involved in construction. It’s not always been made easy by comments I’ve received from industry peers. I’m proud I’ve not let it stop me, and to have found inspirational women to follow. Now, I hope to do the same for others.

“Not enough is said about the barriers that women face in the industry. Some businesses still offer poor maternity pay and there’s often a lack of support for women rejoining the workplace after starting a family. Another blocker is how undervalued compassionate leaders are. Compassion is an absolute superpower when it comes to fostering relationships and nurturing talent, and it’s an asset to any project or business. Tackling blockers like these will help to address the gender gap in leadership roles.”

#Enhancedbyengineers: “Compassion is a superpower”