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Last edited 16 Mar 2022
All-female professional reviews
Josie Rothera: As an ICE reviewer, I’m often the only female of the three parties in the room (two reviewers and the candidate). However, last year I was on my first all-female review panel and the candidates themselves were also female.
At the end of one of the reviews, the candidate made particular reference to the unique, all-female review. I hope that her experience will remain with her, as it will do with me, as significant within the industry.
 Stereotypes faced in the built environment
J: I’m female in a predominately male industry. I’ve faced challenges and provided some opportunities.
I worked on my confidence.
I went out of my way to talk to the operational teams, the ones that wouldn’t be expecting to see a female on a site. I would ask them about their experiences, decisions that they would make where there were problems, and by doing this they spoke to me more freely and with more intention.
I discussed this with my project manager and he called a meeting with the subcontractor, where he made it clear that it was me that was in charge of the package and that they needed to refer queries through me in the first instance.
Being the only female, a person of colour, and from a less dominant group on site, I felt I had to verbally repeat the project manager’s work instructions to a site agent and the site personnel so that defects were corrected.
 The difference in consultancy
Most of the project lead engineers were male and there were few female leaders. This was over 10 years ago and the balance between male and female, certainly in consultancy organisations, is becoming better.
 The recruitment challenge
But my career was given a new steer, and I went into academia for the next seven years.
 The image of construction
J: Another challenge is the image of construction.
Breaking down the traditional image of construction sites into a more inclusive one is a step forward. With the advent of new technologies on site such as remote-controlled equipment, this could attract a more diverse workforce.
 The importance of allies
S: One thing I want to highlight is the role of male allies in recognising talent within the industry.
I want to equally recognise women allies, such as my mentor, Veronica Flint Williams, who inspired me to be the best version of myself that I can be.
 Why you should become a professional reviewer
Reviewing a candidate allows me to broaden my understanding of developments in various ways, such as how to install an offshore wind farm in west Denmark, and health and safety regulations in Hong Kong.
From these, I can reflect on how I could approach something in a better way and learn lessons from the industry and fellow engineers.
Humbly developing myself while advancing women in their careers? That’s even more than what I originally signed up for!
It won’t always be easy, and the path that you choose might not be the one that you first thought that you had in mind, but there are so many different roles that need transferrable skills that you have.
This blog extract first appeared in the ICE insights as 'My first experience of an all-female Professional Review' on 14 March 2022. It was written by two ICE members, Josie Rothera and Siu Fa Ng
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