Outdated attitudes can often preclude women from pursuing or progressing in an engineering career. However, with an ambition to champion individuals regardless of gender, companies can, and will, make gender equality and diversity issues a thing of the past.
For Clare Duggan, Project Engineer at Sligo Water Treatment works (WTW) – operated by Celtic Anglian Water (CAW) – engineering is one of many industries where gender imbalance exists. But, Duggan – who feels she’s never been treated any differently in the workplace to her male counterparts – says this isn’t because one gender can do a job “better” than the other, rather it’s because each individual needs good guidance on choosing the career that best suits them.
“Equal opportunities should begin at school level, when you people are making decisions that will affect their careers. There are societal benefits to removing gender imbalance from all industries, but this shouldn’t be the only, or primary, aim when assisting young people in making career defining choices. The man goal of such guidance should centre on helping teenagers select careers that suit their skillsets and will have the ability to engage them throughout their professional lives”.
CAW work with schools to provide tours of their plants around Ireland to encourage all children to think about a career in engineering. The tours show students examples of the challenges and opportunities within the industry.
“Water and wastewater treatment is a very technological and interesting field of study/work, with a major impact on the environment” says Inês Croft, Project Engineer at Ringsend WWTW in Dublin operated by CAW. “Working in one of the biggest wastewater treatment plants in Europe, I’ve developed my creative problem-solving techniques, my ability to work as part of a team, my attention to detail, my capacity to handle competing priorities and my desire to learn”.
Clionadh Williams, Process Engineer at Ringsend, adds:
“By showing girls the different prospects and importance of engineering, we can help build and develop the necessary skills needed for different job requirements in the future. There’s a perception that an engineering role is a man’s role – this is totally inaccurate, and we need to remove this perception.
To inspire and educate the next generation we must make what we’re teaching them valuable. It should be interactive and interesting, and we have to be enthusiastic when we’re with them. I’ve hosted school visits in the past and I found that providing hands-on experience sticks in the minds of children more so than what I have spoken about”.
According to Elizabeth Cohalan, Project Engineer at Ringsend WWTW, presumptions about who can do a task, and if they can do a task based on “work-life balance” are simply just that – presumptions.
“For me, as an engineer, balancing work and social life has been very easy to achieve”,
says Elizabeth Cohalan, Project Engineer at Ringsend WWTW.
“When I first started, I had only recently moved up to Dublin and was still finding my feet. On my first day, I was encouraged to join a local football team as it was important to have something outside of work. Thankfully, due to CAW’s support, I haven’t had to make any sacrifices because of my role.
I’ve also never felt that certain tasks were assigned to me because of my gender – we’ve been provided with an environment for both men and women to get involved in the work as much as they can. What plays the major role in the work you get is you: your attitude and ability to communicate. You take charge
Celtic Anglian Water were the proud sponsor of the 6th annual WWT Water Ireland Conference & Exhibition which took place on 28 March 2017 at the Pillo Hotel Ashbourne.
This annual event brings the region’s major stakeholders together to address the economic, environmental and customer service challenges facing the Irish water sector.
A number of key topics covered which included; A Sustainable Model for the Provision of Water Services in Ireland; Infrastructure Investment, Capital Delivery & Flood Resilience; Sustainable Management of the Water Environment; and Driving Innovation & Efficiency.
Mark Driver, Managing Director of CAW,
"The WWT Ireland conference is a great platform to bring the Irish Water industry together to discuss the challenges and opportunities that we are currently faced with. We were privileged to have our colleague Jim Foster from our sister company Anglian Water who delivered an insight into the innovative methods AW have developed to treat WTW in the eastern counties of England. Dr Foster’s presentation was indeed very topical as it highlighted the raw water quality treatability challenges which Anglian Water have and continue to be presented with, many of these raw water quality challenges are very similar to those Irish Water is now facing. There was a particular interest in Dr Fosters presentation on the issues associated with the levels of pesticides now present in raw waters and the seasonal variations in contamination levels, MCPA was singled out by one member of the audience for particular discussion. "
One of the largest wastewater treatment works in Europe will host a visit of three schools and the Director General of Engineers Ireland, on Friday 10th March as part of Engineers Week (4th to 10th March).
Ringsend Waste Water Treatment Works, serving the greater Dublin City area and managed by Celtic Anglian Water (CAW), is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced works of its kind in Europe. It will host a visit by Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland and three schools from across Ireland, marking the last day of Engineers Week.
The pupils visiting are from St. Michael’s College Junior School in Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4 and are all aged between 10 – 12 years old.
Engineers Ireland is the voice of the engineering profession in Ireland and through its STEPS programme organises Engineers Week – funded as a strategic partner of Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Smart Futures Programme.
Engineers Week is a week-long programme of nationwide events celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland. The aim of the week is to create a positive awareness of and spark enthusiasm about the engineering profession among young people with little or no engineering background.
The three visiting schools will be given an introduction to engineering within the water industry and an insight into how wastewater is treated before being recycled back to our waterways from where is began. Presentations on the day will also include an overview of how 50% of the electrical power required by the treatment process is generated on site from the biogas produced in the sludge digestion process, and how the biosolids byproduct of the treatment process is further processed to produce a nutrient rich organic fertilizer, Biofert, for recycling to agricultural land across the country.
Declan Maguire, Operations Director for CAW said:
“We are delighted to be supporting Engineers Week and promoting engineering as a career choice. As one of the largest and most innovative treatment works in Europe we naturally receive a lot of interest in our site at Ringsend, and as a significant employer of engineers we are always keen to promote and develop the profession.
“We are always happy to assist schools, colleges, and universities who are interested in the Works and gaining a real insight into a number of the engineering disciplines including civil, mechanical, electrical, and chemical. Engineers Week, co-ordinated by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme, is a great way to raise the profile of the engineering industry to budding engineers of all ages and we are delighted with the level of interest we have received in the events we are hosting for schools today”
Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland commented:
“Engineers Week is a chance for parents and young people to find out more about the many career opportunities available within the engineering sector and learn about the kind of skills that qualified engineers can build on as they move through their careers. Engineers Week also highlights how a career in engineering is accessible to all those who have an interest in the sector. There are many misconceptions about the ‘type of person’ who should pursue engineering and during Engineers Week we can show people that the world of engineering is open to everyone - girls, boys, creative thinkers, curious minds, problem-solvers and leaders.
"We are delighted that so many engineering organisations have embraced Engineers Week by hosting local students and creating specially tailored workshops and events to showcase their organisation and profession. By doing so, we have been able to engage with over 58,000 students, parents and teachers nationwide, sparking an enthusiasm for the profession and helping students to explore their future in this exciting subject area,”