International Women’s Day – Shirley Reynolds

International Women’s Day – Shirley Reynolds

Shirley ReynoldsAssociate Director, Shirley Reynolds, shares her experience on working within the Civil Engineering industry and some of the challenges she’s faced for International Women’s Day:

“Although my degree was in a mathematical subject, I started my working career in the mid-nineties in the Civil Engineering department of a University where the lecture staff were almost exclusively male and Civil Engineers. I have always remembered being asked by a senior member of the Department how I was coping being a woman in that man’s world (those were definitely different times!), to which my instant reply was that being a non-Civil Engineer in a Civil Engineer’s world was far more of an issue!  I’m pleased to say that my challenge to that attitude did bring more respect of the broad spectrum of disciplines that contribute to the field of civil engineering and I have thrived in my career as a Traffic Engineer.

But a sense of the novelty of women engineers in the workplace did persist for a while longer in my career.  In 2005, there was an article in one of the professional magazines featuring me and three female engineering colleagues responsible for the design and delivery of a new traffic signal junction scheme. I suppose there was a well-intentioned motive to encourage women into engineering but to my mind it only served to reinforce that we were somehow different from our male colleagues. We’re not different, we’re equal.

When I reflect on my career as a Traffic Engineer and now as an Associate Director with Waterman Aspen, I can honestly say that I don’t really think that I’ve faced particularly difficult challenges as a woman, as a working parent or even as a non-Civil Engineer. I’ve just worked hard to be the best engineer, manager, parent, partner, friend and colleague that I can be. And I get a great deal of satisfaction when I can help others be the same.”