Tell us a bit about yourself (company, your role, experience, etc..).
I work in SENER, an engineering and technology group from Spain, but working globally in the sectors of Mobility, Energy and Aerospace. I am Director Business Development for Europe in SENER Mobility and I have been working in this company for almost 20 years now. SENER is very active in the UK and we are involved in some of the major transport infrastructures in the country.
From your perspective and/or your own experience, what are the main challenges and opportunities that women face in the workplace?
The engineering sector is a male dominated sector. For many years women have not been part of these careers and therefore now we can see few women in high level positions. The challenge is still to get the interest of the young girls in these STEM careers. The opportunity will come by integrating the other half of the population’s ideas, needs and ways of thinking into the engineering projects to better serve the whole society. We are still designing infrastructures with gender bias data because we have not got a voice for many years. We are changing that, but we still have a lot to do. We have a big challenge with females taking big responsibility roles in this sector.
What do you think organisations should do in order to increase the presence of women in leadership positions?
Honestly, I think they should be bolder and braver. There is no bad outcome, or at least not worse than choosing a man. I have never been in favor of quotas, but more and more I realized that it might be the only way to move further and faster. Before, they might not have been enough women, but now sometimes it might just be easier to get a man for a job, for a panel, for an interview… I say: go beyond and choose a woman! They are out there. Ready to go. Women have the same chances to fail than a man, and exactly the same to succeed.
From the gender perspective, what initiatives have already been implemented by your organisation that you would like to point out?
There is just as much as you can do in the engineering sector because of the lack of female engineers in general. But of course, in our company we have a whole set of policies to deal with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Among other things, SENER is part of the Women and Engineering Program from the Spanish Royal Academy of Engineering that aims to promote STEM careers among the female public, in addition to including various actions and programs such as “Mentoring of Excellence” or “Engineering with social purpose”.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I don’t know if my younger self would have taken much of an advice. She wanted to experience everything for myself, but if I have to choose, I would have told her not to settle for the easy, to go always beyond and to be ambitious. We should get more used to see ambition in women as a good quality.
In terms of gender equality, how do you imagine the world in 10 years’ time? What would be your ideal outcome?
I am sure in ten years we will be better. I have no doubt about that. The problem is: do we still have to wait for ten years? The ideal would be not to have to do this kind of interview to raise awareness, right?