This International Women’s Day (8 March 2022) we want to break the biases that hold talented women back from leadership roles on Major Projects in the construction industry.
At Tetra Tech we have many talented women in pivotal roles on our projects. Unfortunately, this is still a rarity in the construction industry. This is something we are working hard to improve.
Here, we speak to Victoria Brayshaw, Head of Civil Engineering who is at the heart of some of our major residential schemes to get her thoughts on how gender diversity makes for better projects.
Why does gender diversity matter for our projects?
“Our project teams are hand selected on merit. But I rebel against the notion that it is impossible to build diverse teams in this industry. It is difficult but not impossible – and it is a position of privilege to be blind to the issue. Women are 50% of the global population. We are not a minority group. Yet we remain underrepresented in the construction industry, particularly in leadership roles on major projects.
“Our teams should reflect the society we serve, and gender diversity is a part of that. We all have biases and blind spots. If we fail to include diverse talent in our teams we risk creating places that don’t meet people’s needs.”
Why does gender diversity matter for our people?
“In diverse teams, everyone can share their opinion and feel championed – no one has to temper their view or conform to the group consensus. In my experience this is truly game changing for the individuals concerned. I really welcome the day this is business as usual across the industry.”
What are our clients doing to promote diversity?
“We work with some brilliant clients. Their leadership on issues such as gender diversity and neurodiversity is frankly inspirational.
“It’s a learning curve, being part of an underrepresented group doesn’t make you an expert on inclusion. But our clients are leading by example and they challenge us constantly; this gives me enormous hope for the future of our industry.”
How do we improve gender diversity further?
“Diversity attracts diversity. We need a broad variety of role models in leadership to inspire, retain and champion others. Until this happens across the industry, we’re unlikely to make the strides we need.
“We all have a part to play as individuals. I do recognise that as a female leader at Tetra Tech, I have a moral duty to advocate for more women in our industry. I’m incredibly proud of the growth that we have achieved over the past 12 months and that, as part of that growth, we have improved our gender balance within the Civil Engineering discipline significantly. This is a mission very close to my heart.
“Women often downplay their achievements; we are conditioned from a very young age not to be boastful. This is incredibly difficult to overcome but the importance of role modelling in attracting and retaining talent to our industry shouldn’t be underestimated. I have recently been elected as a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and I hope that this inspires others. Fellowship is another area where women are significantly underrepresented.
“Finally, the positive impact of having male allies in this industry can never be forgotten, I work with some truly amazing men – we must all work together to achieve inclusivity.”