Monday, March 4, 2019


We're supporting the campaign to attract more women into engineering professions by launching an award to mark the centenary of the Womens’ Engineering Society (WES).

BESA believes engineering professions in general – and building engineering in particular – will not be able to meet their future business goals without a far more gender diverse workforce. According to the Office for National Statistics, just 9% of British engineers are women and BESA is firmly behind the WES campaign to raise that figure to 30% by 2030.

“Creating more career opportunities for women in engineering is not just the right thing to do morally – it is the right thing to do for our businesses,” said BESA chief executive David Frise. “There is plenty of evidence to prove that the most successful businesses are those with the most diverse workforces.”

The BESA Woman Engineer of the Year award will be launched in early 2019 and presented at the BESA National Conference on 21 November 2019 in London. It will recognise a woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the work of the Association and the championing of women in the building services workforce.

“There has never been a better time for parents to encourage their girls to embark on a career in engineering,” said former chair of BESA Scotland Simone Hart Sibbald. “The career potential has never been greater because, alongside a very real skills shortage, there is growing understanding of the positive way women are contributing to this male-dominated sector.” 

Although she still finds herself sitting in industry meetings where she is outnumbered 20 to 1, Ms Sibbald, who is managing director of the ventilation hygiene contractor Perfect Service Solutions, said “there is nothing but respect for me”.

“Companies perform better if they are more representative of the community around them,” she added. “A diverse workforce brings new ideas and fresh perspectives that help your company win work and broaden the customer base. It is good for corporate reputation and helps us attract and retain customers and employees.”

With women reaching the very top in politics; emergency services; healthcare and business – why not engineering? The RAE’s figures show that 20,000 additional graduate and higher level apprentices will be needed every year between now and 2024 to meet predicted demand. The industry has no choice, but to look beyond its ‘traditional’ sources of talent.

Role models will play a crucial role in encouraging women – particularly young women – to enter male dominated fields like building engineering services. The new award will recognise these role models and build on the success of women like Joanna Robinson, managing director of BESA member company Mansfield Pollard.

As well as running a large, international business, Joanna is chair of BESA’s Ventilation Group.

“During my time as chair, I am supporting the BESA agenda to promote women in engineering, and am committed to empowering the next generation of female engineers – highlighting the potential career opportunities in manufacturing and engineering,” said Joanna.

BESA’s Future Leaders group is also nurturing emerging talent by giving young engineers – drawn from member companies – opportunities to grow and develop through mentoring and training. The group’s chair is Reanna Evans – a project engineer at the contractor NG Bailey.

"I have been fascinated by buildings from a young age, but – as a young woman – I thought I would only be able to work in interior design or architecture. However, as I grew older I realised there were apprenticeships in building services. I knew this was the way I wanted to go because I want to build and service a brighter future for our country.”

For more information about WES visit

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