Georgina Molloy, chair of the new Engineers Ireland Women in Engineering Group, explains why it was set up and what it hopes to achieve.
Last week was Engineers Week and we showcased a number of women doing brilliant work across the industry, from NASA datanaut Fionnghuala O’Reilly to chemical engineer Caroline Poovelil and civil engineer Eve Cassidy.
However, like many areas of STEM, there is a gender gap in engineering that needs to be addressed. To help, Engineers Ireland has launched a new Women in Engineering Group.
The group is chaired by Georgina Molloy, who is a chartered structural and civil engineer with two decades of experience working in design consultancy in Ireland and Australia. She is one of the only chartered scaffold design engineers in Ireland and has been managing the design department at McCrory Access Solutions for more than 10 years.
We spoke to Molloy to learn more about the new Women in Engineering Group and how it hopes to support women in this industry.
‘It can sometimes feel unnatural to work on projects where one is in the minority and can sometimes face unconscious biases’
– GEORGINA MOLLOY
What was the motivation behind launching the Women in Engineering Group?
There are a number of matters that motivated us to launch the Women in Engineering Group at Engineers Ireland. The first and biggest motivation is the fact that many female engineers work in male-dominated environments such as offices, facilities and sites.
It can sometimes feel unnatural to work on projects where one is in the minority and can sometimes face unconscious biases. We would therefore like to have a network to facilitate connections between women working in engineering roles and to knowledge-share and exchange ideas.
We are also motivated to do something to try to address and improve the number of women working in the engineering profession. Engineering is a really wonderful career choice as you are using problem-solving abilities and developing solutions for the good of society. We hope that by forming a group we can keep women in the industry and attract some women back to the profession who may have left to work in another industry or taken a career break.
What is the group setting out to achieve?
Our mission is to support women who have chosen a career in engineering pre and post-graduation. That includes women on and returning from a career break so that they can develop their skills and competencies and fully realise their potential in and out of the workplace.
We also aim to support the STEPS team at Engineers Ireland in their aim to encourage young people to consider a career in engineering.
The hope is that by supporting women and by building a network, it will prevent women from leaving the profession for other, more gender-balanced industries, and that a visibly active group will entice girls to study engineering.
We aim to do this by hosting virtual and – as soon as is safe to do so – in-person events, so that women can network and discuss what we can do to address gender balance, the gender pay gap and diversity and inclusion.
Our LinkedIn page already has over 150 male and female members. Our first virtual meeting, where we elected our committee of 12, had over 30 people in attendance. And all 30 women were eager to be on the committee or to be involved in another way, so we are an extremely engaged and supportive group already.
What are you most excited about now that the group has launched?
What has struck us most about our group so far is the high level of qualifications and the broad and deep range of experience of the women participants. The group represents many disciplines of engineering and in some cases our members are the sole female working within their discipline.
We have a member, for example, who is the only female arbitrator with an engineering background in Ireland and one who is the only female scaffold design engineer in Ireland – that’s me!
Do you think this group will help work to close the gender gap in engineering in Ireland? What are some other steps we need to take to achieve this?
We hope that it will help to close the gender gap in engineering in Ireland by keeping women in the profession and by attracting women who may have left to come back. We also hope that members of the group can be role models for girls, inspiring them to study engineering.
We believe that men are an extremely important part of the solution to closing the gender gap. We welcome and encourage men to join our group and our events because we cannot close the gap without them.
Some other steps we can take include having gender-balanced committees, interview panels, interviewee lists, boards and senior management.
Providing unconscious bias training for engineers and within companies and actively encouraging men to take, for example, their entitlement of paternity and parental leave so that family leave is not seen as something that only women avail of, could help to close the gap.
Our events are open to Engineers Ireland members and non-members and to men and women. We would love men to get involved and to work with us to close the gender gap. We need to speed up the pace of change, not only in the interest of women but in the interest of business and of getting the best and most diverse solutions possible for our clients and for the world.
Climate change is at a critical stage, zero carbon targets are in place and we need the most diverse set of engineers possible working on the solutions to our world’s problems. Engineers Ireland has also set up an Inclusion and Diversity Group, of which our group is a sub-group, who will work to address diversity beyond gender diversity.