Our Woman in the Field interview series showcases inspiring women who work in field careers. This month, Gement had the opportunity to interview Brogan Macdonald, a talented young woman working at Ramboll as a Senior Structural Engineer. Marketing Assistant at Gement, Paris Ani, caught up with Brogan to learn more about her story and experiences in the industry.
Gement: What is your official job title and where do you work?
Brogan: I am a Senior Structural Engineer at Ramboll, London. This means I oversee structural engineering projects in the design and construction stages. I work with clients and architects to carry out various calculations on the structure of a building (for example, beams, columns, slabs, and foundations) and make their designs a reality.
Gement: How can someone become an engineer and get into the construction industry?
Brogan: There are two main routes to becoming an engineer. The first is an apprenticeship, which allows you to earn while you learn. You can become an apprentice engineer from the age of 16 and start getting work experience immediately upon leaving school. The apprenticeship typically gives you 1-2 days per week to go to college to gain a qualification in the engineering subject. The second option is to go to university. You will need to achieve specific grades in subjects such as Maths, English and Science to get accepted to attend university. The course is typically 4 years and you receive a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Engineering.
Gement: Can you tell us more about your educational background?
Brogan: I studied English, Maths, Business Management, Art and Graphic Communication at Higher Grade (the Scottish equivalent of A-Levels). I never studied any science subjects and I was worried this would mean I wouldn’t be able to study engineering, so in my 6th year, I took an Open University course through my school called Engineering the Future. This gave me the grades to be accepted to Heriot-Watt University to study Structural Engineering with Architectural Design.
Gement: Did you face any struggles in your progression in this field?
Brogan: I struggled a lot with my mental health during school and university, which made my progression more challenging. But I gained support from the NHS and my university for counselling and got the medical help that I needed. It’s important to recognise and get help with mental health as it is no less important than physical health.
“It’s important to recognise and get help with mental health as it is no less important than physical health.”
Gement: What are the biggest misconceptions about working in engineering/construction?
Brogan: That it is a man’s world! Yes, it is true that there are only 16% of women in engineering. However, I work with dozens of talented female engineers. My line manager is a woman, and I also have 3 female engineers in my project team. I always feel supported and empowered.
Gement: Why should more people from underrepresented backgrounds (women, minorities, and young people) get into engineering/construction?
Brogan: Engineers invent and create everything we use day-to-day, from your mobile phone to the transport links you use to see friends. Women make up half of the population but only 16% are engineers. This means that the things engineers are making do not consider minorities’ needs and accessibilities. It’s important that we increase minority representation in engineering to ensure their problems are being solved too.
Gement: What are your thoughts about Gement and our educational programmes to raise awareness about career opportunities in construction?
Brogan: Gement has a brilliant programme that creates visibility of career opportunities in construction for everyone. Gement aligns with my personal values of promoting careers in construction, with diversity and sustainability at the heart of the mission.
“Gement aligns with my personal values of promoting careers in construction, with diversity and sustainability at the heart of the mission.”
Gement: Do you have any special memories or standout moments during your time in this field?
Brogan: This year I received my Engineering Chartership, which means that I am a qualified engineer within my field of civil and structural engineering. I worked very hard for over 3 years to study for this certification and during the lockdown, I was working full-time and studying every evening! I have also received awards from the Women in Construction and Engineering Awards as Best Young Woman Engineer.
Gement: Where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now?
Brogan: I want to continue my work in sustainable structural design and contribute towards industry guidance to help fight the climate emergency. Ideally, I will be a director in 5-10 years’ time and be leading a team of young, talented engineers!
Gement: What are your hobbies outside of work?
Brogan: I absolutely love art, painting and drawing. Before I decided to become an engineer, I was going to go to Art School! I also enjoy playing tennis, reading fiction, and travelling. I’ll soon be taking a break from work to travel to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of our Women in the Field Series. If you work in the construction industry, and you think you could contribute positivity to our series, contact us at email@example.com.