I am a structural engineer, which means my job is to make the architect’s ideas workable. I work within AC PLC’s design team to develop strong long-term solutions that are economical and remain within budget.
I do the static and dynamic check for parts of, or an entire building. Working for an international company means it is important to follow the standards of the project’s home country. I follow this by creating a structural drawing. Completing calculations and the structural design means that I can enable the design to progress. Procurement can then purchase the correct structural elements. I think I stand out as an AC PLC team member because of my desire to make things achievable. I pride myself on fulfilling the ideas of the design, commercial and procurement teams.
As a child, I loved to draw buildings. I also really enjoyed maths. Structural engineering allowed me to combine both subjects into a job I really enjoy. When I finished high school, I was looking into computer science, a path I am sure my parents may have preferred me to follow. However, I went on to attend the Technical University of Civil, Industrial and Agricultural Construction in Bucharest, Romania. I was following my dream of making houses stand.
Structural engineering is certainly a male-dominated field. This is a theme that goes back to my university education, where men massively outnumbered women. I knew going into my career that the field and specific role were viewed as traditionally male. However, knowing this in advance didn’t make things less challenging.
I think in the UK, and my native country Romania, we are lucky that society has progressed to a point that barriers to women entering the industry come down more and more every year. However, it is important to remember that women have only been given the same rights as men within the past 100 years. It is only within the past 40 years that women have gained access to certain workforces that were previously off-limits to them. Many people are still not used, or are resistant, to accept the fact that women can do the same work as men, if not better.
One of the main perceptions of being a woman in construction is that you get wolf-whistled at whilst on-site. Although this doesn’t impact me personally, it is an extremely common problem that turns women away from the industry. To ensure women feel comfortable and attracted to this field, a cultural shift needs to be implemented. The industry must keep up with social progress, for example, by implementing a zero-tolerance approach.
Throughout my career, I am fortunate that people have always held respect for me. I have never faced any issues in the industry based on my gender. AC PLC has an amazing culture that trusts me and my work. I have been able to show them what I am capable of, and they have assessed me on this, not my gender. This is implemented within the entire culture at AC. I have so many women colleagues and we all feel like we have an equal position and opportunity to other staff.
It is important every member within a workforce feels like they can follow their dreams in their careers. Being passionate about what you do leads to success and a future of achievements. Women in the industry need to know that they can succeed in this field and should not be put off by the traditionally male reputation. Do not think like a man or a woman. Just think like a human.