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Imagining the future for New Zealand women in engineering

June 20, 2022

International Women in Engineering Day: our Kiwi engineers share their vision for a fully inclusive workplace for women

International Women in Engineering Day is held annually on 23 June, and this year's theme is Inventors & Innovators: Imagine the Future. To help celebrate, we asked some of our engineers to talk about how they see future workplaces for women.

At the end of the First World War, women who had been employed in technical fields found it almost impossible to continue working as engineers. A change in the law returned these women back to their domestic lives, while the legal and public service professions were letting women in.

Fast forward to 2022, we've come a long way, but we still have a long road ahead.

We're profiling women who recognise the gaps and dare to be part of the solution for a future workforce that represents all genders. We talked to a couple of them: Hilary and Kirsten.

Hilary Papps, Principal Transport Engineer / Transport Planning Team Lead

Hilary's vision of a fully inclusive workplace for women is an environment in which all individuals, regardless of gender, feel empowered to express themselves and their opinions. 

She believes recognising and celebrating diversity of thought ultimately leads to a workplace where employees enjoy going to work, take pride in their work, and have a sense of belonging.

"And it has a positive impact on project performance," she adds. "If you encourage people to bring their 'whole selves' to work it not only benefits their performance and office culture, it also leads to improved project outcomes."

Hilary says Stantec has provided her the freedom to forge her own career path, in a supportive and inspiring environment.

"Diversity of thought is encouraged here," she says. "And more than encouraged—it's essential. Different ideas influence all stages of a project lifecycle, encourages innovation, and produces better decision making."

Kirsten Norquay, Senior Principal Process Engineer / Process Community of Practice Leader

Value, connection, positivity, diversity, sharing, collaboration, and respect are words Senior Process Engineer/Process Community of Practice Leader Kirsten Norquay uses to describe the benefits of a fully inclusive workplace.

Her vision is one where people are inspired and empowered, a workplace that cultivates an authentic and collaborative environment, where everyone is accepted for who they are and able to fully utilise and grow their strengths and skills.

“A diverse and inclusive workplace, where we all feel valued, connected and able to freely contribute as our true selves creates a positive, productive working environment where distinct viewpoints are shared and respected.”

Kirsten is particularly invested in nurturing and retaining women in the water sector, specifically supporting those working while raising a family. She’s pleased to endorse Stantec’s flexible working policies and support for parents.

“What I’ve appreciated and would like to keep for our future workforce are the informal female professional networks you can develop and, particularly while raising a young family, the ability to work flexible hours or part-time when required.”

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