We are celebrating International Women in Engineering Day by introducing some of our female engineers and hearing from them how they feel diversity has evolved since the first International Women in Engineering Day ten years ago.
We hear from Vasiliki Kalomoiri, an Asset Design Manager for the buildings within Portsmouth Naval Base. Vasiliki is responsible for the delivery of projects from inception to completion, considering amongst other things the design risks, the Health and Safety and the Net Zero Carbon.
Why did you want to become an engineer?
Since I was a young girl I remember myself spending a lot of time in creating with my friends structures, such as tree houses or medium-size single storey timber houses. Additionally, I always admired close relatives who are engineers and those people became my role models. I appreciated the difference and creative ways of thinking, the ability to solve real life problems and making people’s lives better. Hence, from a very young age I knew that I wanted to become an engineer.
Thus, following high school exams I began my studies in civil engineering and then in structural engineering. I started my career in Greece as a construction civil engineer. Then I worked as a structural engineer for many years, some of them in the UK. I like to learn constantly and be at the edge of knowledge, thus while working I completed two masters degrees in engineering and project management respectively.
Have you noticed any changes in diversity in engineering since you were studying?
While I was studying in university, women were a tiny minority compared to male students. Nowadays women are around 16% of all engineers, compared to 10% reported in 2010. The number of women in engineering is rising, but that is not enough.
We need to bring more women to this field and to encourage them to study engineering because they have many things to offer and to thrive in various levels . Women are typically excellent communicators and collaborators, working well in bringing teams together to find solutions. They pay more attention to detail so they can highly contribute to the safety of people and assets.
There are also many studies suggesting that diverse teams create better results and more innovative thinking compared to non-diverse teams.
Any advice for anyone wanting to study engineering?
Engineering is an exciting subject of applied science, that helps us to shape the world and make people lives better, safer and greener. Many past decades’ misconceptions kept women out of this field. It is critical to create clear role models for future generations of engineers and encourage young girls to consider engineering careers.
Skills you need to acquire besides math and physics, is understanding the basic driving forces of a problem, attention to detail, thinking out of the box and trying to simplify problems as much as possible in order to achieve the right solution. Becoming an engineer will give to the person pride through their achievements and satisfaction.
Furthermore, I would advise anyone wanted to study engineering to be proactive, open-minded and to remain determined to their dreams.
What do you think about International Women in Engineering Day?
I believe International Women in Engineering Day is important because it raises the profile of women in engineering. It provides awareness to uplift the women who have chosen unconventional careers in STEM and it promotes the diversity and inclusion. This day we will be celebrating the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing every day. We listen to their stories, struggles and challenges, successes and celebrate their achievements. Those stories can motivate and inspire young girls to follow the engineering career path, towards a brighter future for them and our society.