International Women in Engineering Day - meet Emma Bazeley
24 Jun 2021
Emma Bazeley is one of many women at Highways England working in engineering. To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we spoke to her to find out about why she got involved in what has traditionally been a male-heavy role.
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What is your role within Highways England?
I am a Service Delivery Manager within the South West region.
What made you want to get into a career in engineering?
I am a creative person and also love to solve a problem, a career in engineering allow me to now do both these things. Initially for me I did not want an office based job and engineering gave me that opportunity to work both on site and in office based environments.
Engineering has been a traditionally male occupation – has that ever bothered you?
I think people tend to think that engineering is a challenging work environment for women because men tend to outnumber the amount of women in the profession, I am the only girl in the maintenance team in the South West but I do not feel that is the challenge. All work environments can have their challenges, working with different people and negotiating different personalities can always be tricky. The key is your love for what you are doing and your drive to do what you are doing, that gets you through those tough times.
Working in a male dominated environment has never bothered me but I have experienced a few interesting moments in my career. I once went to a meeting and someone said to me ‘ I assume you are here to take the minutes and provide tea, please could I have a glass of water’. The male colleague with me shot out the room to get the water and left me to explain that actually if they wanted to be awarded the work then it was me they needed to impress.
On another occasion at a conference my male colleague and I spoke to a supplier. The supplier had great eye contact with my colleague and when the supplier asked if he could provide a lunch and learn on their products, the colleague replied I am unsure, I had better check with my manager and asked me if I would be ok with that, the supplier soon then moved his eye contact to me. On both occasions though it made my colleague and I smile and did not phase me.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Variety, no two days are the same, a significant amount of our work is reactive depending on the network need, and that keeps me busy. I enjoy being part of a team that has one vision, to ensure the public have reliable journeys and can safely use our network. Maintenance may not seem exciting to many but is key to delivering our vision.
The team around me are passionate about their work and make a day in the office or working from home a much more enjoyable experience. I have worked with some colleagues for a number of years and am proud to say they are friends and not just colleagues. My job also gives me an opportunity to learn, share knowledge and work collaboratively with other teams both in region and wider Highways England.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in engineering?
‘Engineers work with like-minded people on complex, challenging and rewarding projects that make a difference to the world’, when put like that it sounds like a wonderful opportunity to me. My best advice is to first believe in yourself and that you can be as good, if not better than the guys. As a matter of fact, studies show that women are better at managing multiple projects which is an advantage in a competitive world.