Our Structures Engineer, Paula McMahon, takes her place as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering
June 23 is International Women in Engineering Day. This year, we have even more reason to celebrate the day as Paula McMahon has been selected as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering (WE50) 2019: Current and Former Apprentices by the Women’s Engineering Society.
The WE50 is designed to change perceptions and encourage young women to consider engineering as a career.
As the full list is published in The Guardian, we caught up with Paula to find out what the recognition means to her and learn more about her career path in the industry, which has seen her gain Fellowship status with both the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the RSA.
How long have you been with Sir Robert McAlpine?
I’ve been with Sir Robert McAlpine for four years, joining after getting to know the organisation when I worked closely with a project team in a previous role - I was impressed by the friendly, open culture. I initially worked for Sir Robert McAlpine as a Bridge Inspector, before becoming Highway Structures Manager, where I ran routine bridge inspections and maintenance for 220 structures.
Today, while planning the Tees Viaduct Substructure Refurbishment (TVSR), I support the training and mentoring of staff across the North of England and Scotland. I currently mentor over 30 candidates from trainees and apprentices early in their career to those in their 50s working towards Engineering Technician qualification.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love mentoring people. Seeing them gain confidence as they progress to become professional members of the ICE is really satisfying. Sir Robert McAlpine is a very supportive work environment where helping people reach their full potential is considered a real part of the day job.
I’m also involved in voluntary work both for the ICE and across the sector. I’m proud that in my role as ICE Chair for Teesside and Vice Chair for the North East I’ve been able to increase diversity in the organisation – with better representation for people at all levels of the profession, and an improving gender and ethnic balance.
It’s a big achievement to be included in the WE50 – how do you feel about the recognition?
It’s great because publicity around initiatives like WE50 enables young girls to see beyond the stereotypes and understand that a rewarding and interesting career in STEM is open to them.
Diversity in the sector brings with it a balance of views – which ultimately means we can find better solutions to future challenges.
As an industry we need creative and enthusiastic people so anyone who thinks they fit the bill (whether male or female!) should go for it!