8th March 2024

Inspiring inclusion on International Women’s Day


Today marks International Women’s Day, a global day recognising the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and calling for a more gender-equal world.

This year’s theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, and we asked some of our amazing team how we can inspire inclusion in the engineering industry and create happier and healthier communities:

Jess Foster, associate in our London studio, said: “Promoting inclusivity is essential. Examples remain where inclusivity hasn’t caught up, such as the ‘men at work’ signs which can still be found around some construction sites. It might seem a small thing, but the subtleties and importance of the messages we send out each day must not be underestimated. There are some really positive strides taking place in our industry, such as such as the National Association of Women in Construction’s campaign to address the widespread inequalities in PPE provision.

“Championing women for speaking spots is a great step, but it’s generally only visible to people who are already engaged in the industry. Girls who have spent their formative years encountering signage and messaging that construction sites aren’t for them, are unlikely to be drawn to a career in engineering, even if the experience of a design studio is very different. Inclusivity and visibility is inspiring, but we must work on also not being exclusive.”

Isla Jackson, director in our Glasgow studio, commented: “Inclusivity means creating happier, healthier and more sustainable communities, which is why it’s vital that diverse perspectives are at the heart of our designs for buildings, parks, towns and cities.

“Here in Glasgow, the council recently backed a motion that puts women, non-binary and genderfluid people at the centre of city planning and policy development. This landmark move – the first of its kind in the UK – will help us to transform perceptions and create brighter future where inclusivity is embraced. It will set an example for others to follow worldwide.”

Leah Stuart, director in our Leeds studio, added: “It’s never been more important for us to prioritise inclusivity, particularly as we respond to the challenge of the climate emergency. Climate change is set to widen gender inequalities worldwide, so it’s vital we organise our built environment and design our transport systems to tackle this issue, and with more people in mind.

“Part of this is considering women and gender diverse people’s experiences of using public spaces and moving around our towns and cities. We must factor safety and accessibility into planning decisions and designs, if we’re to advocate for sustainable active travel, public transport and champion the benefits of outdoor space.”

Natalia Lilliu, graduate civil engineer in our Leeds studio, said: “Socialising with the engineering community, asking as many questions as possible and connecting with others, are all things that have supported me in my career so far. Equally, these are all great ways to open up opportunities and drive change.

“As a graduate, I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by so many inspiring and supportive women in my team. I’ve learned so much already from their experiences, and it’s great to work together and see our projects come to life.”

Inspiring inclusion on International Women’s Day