International Women in Engineering Day - meet Jenny Gordon
24 Jun 2021
Jenny Gordon 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?
Senior quantity surveyor looking after a small commercial team who support the project managers on the pavement schemes in SW region.
What made you want to get into a career in engineering?
Purely by chance. I didn’t get the A level grades I needed to study topographic science so applied through clearing for anything remotely land surveying. As a result I received a phone call from Trent Polytechnic to say the course I’d applied for was full but they could offer me a place on an HND course in civil engineering quantity surveying. They guaranteed to find me a 12-month work placement but needed an answer right then. The 12-month guaranteed work placement sounded invaluable so I said yes.
Engineering has been a traditionally male occupation – has that ever bothered you?
No. From the start working for contractors on road construction sites in the 1980s I have been treated with respect from all levels be it high level management, site labourers or office staff.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Initially it was the balance between being on site and in the office. There’s less of the site work now but it is always a pleasure to travel on roads I’ve been involved with and see bridges which I feel are mine. The role suits me well as I like being involved in something practical, needing to understand construction drawings, and yet being mainly involved with figures. The most important thing is the people, the sense of teamwork and being part of something useful.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in engineering?
Move around early on in your career to ensure you gain experience across contractors, consultants, councils and subcontractors.