For International Women in Engineering Day 2021, we spoke to a number of selected women to learn more about their journey within the industry. Today, we speak to Veronica Yu MTCP MCIHT MRTPI, Project Manager in the Technical Affairs Department, Ministry of Transport and Communications, State of Qatar and CIHT Qatar Chair.
It was an interest and opportunity that came about in university. Prior to that, I was not aware of transport planning as a career. I took up the Transport modules in my Town and Country Planning course and found particular interest in the transport area. Transport is so closely connected with everything that we do in our daily lives. With some luck after graduation, I landed my first job in transport planning. The interest in this field kept growing ever since. There is always new information to learn and innovation to explore in this field.
Transport planning and engineering is such a dynamic and exciting sector to work in. The fact that the work relates to our everyday life means that I am able to help shape the way to keep us all connected. On top of that, transport is interconnected with other disciplines; I gain knowledge on different topics all the time, a few to name are marketing of a public transport brand, crisis management, the different types of cable cars, wi-fi on public transport, accident investigation, insurance, legislation etc. The work broadens my horizon, the variety brings challenges. It adds value and brings real impact to real people.
Transport planning and engineering is such a dynamic and exciting sector to work in. The fact that the work relates to our everyday life means that I am able to help shape the way to keep us all connected.
The sector has been a male-dominated sector throughout my career. To me, the industry would benefit from a more balanced representation so that woman can contribute in issues, consultation etc that may not have been considered in a male-dominated environment. Having said that, I have met some very talented female who have achieved and contributed massively to the industry. It has been a privilege to work with so many of these professionals such as the leaders, staff and committees in CIHT.
Having worked in different countries and having different interfaces, I have faced challenges not because of my professional capabilities but because of my gender.
There are instances where the individuals' culture and upbringing do not accept women to express their views or to lead and or seeing female as the minority hence not important. Also, it is not yet the social norm to expect female to work extended working hours into the evening and weekend, put on a hard hat, undertake site testing at engineering hours, be highly flexible and on call.
Personal sacrifices have to be made at times in order to help me get there, sometimes it involves convincing my own family on why I need to work out-of-office hours. Having worked in a male-dominated sector for many years has shaped the way I work. I have learnt the essential skills and adapt my own personality and find a voice in the male-dominated sector.
Despite this, there are truly professionals out there that recognise the skills I have and solutions I can bring to the table.
Having worked in a male-dominated sector for many years has shaped the way I work. I have learnt the essential skills and adapt my own personality and find a voice in the male-dominated sector.
The committee members are all volunteers and are acting on behalf of the members in the Region, plus the fact that Qatar has a very diverse member base; I see it very important to have the committee members with a balanced representation. This will help us understand and address the members’ needs and voice their concerns better. We currently have just over 20% female within our committee members. We need to attract more, and we welcome interested individuals to join us.
The differences in gender have been talked about and studied for centuries. Given that the highways & transportation industry needs people to work with ideas, experience and analytical skills, it is crucial to have a balanced gender representation to provide different viewpoints and approaches to help address the many challenges facing the industry. We have seen many proven cases where females have contributed towards. A question that I sometimes ask people who are sceptical: Does a male's perspective in public transport safety fully represent a female's perspective? Do the females in your family have the same view as you to this question?
A question that I sometimes ask people who are sceptical: Does a male's perspective in public transport safety fully represent a female's perspective? Do the females in your family have the same view as you to this question?
I am not surprised with this figure, as I was one of those who did not know about transport planning when I was growing up.
There certainly is a need to increase the awareness of role of transport. This awareness should start at a young age so that girls know that they can pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math (S.T.E.M.), and to let them know how a career in the transportation industry can make a difference to the world. For companies and organisations, they need to recognise that there is a need to ensure flexibility in the workplace, creating part-time positions, facilitating work from home opportunities, ensuring wage equality between the genders and offering equal career opportunity in order to attract and retain female in the industry. Moreover, there should be more encouragement for female role models so girls and women can learn from them. International Women in Engineering Day is a good initiative where we get a chance to celebrate the heroes.
There are many engineering heroes, they all contribute and bring us where we are today. To keep in line with INWED and to relate back to my interest in urban planning and transport, my engineering hero is Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris. The mayor announced last year of the challenging and innovative concept that would make Paris a 15-minute city. The idea is to create neighbourhoods where every residents’ essential needs are easily within reach in 15 minutes by bike or walking. This concept is so applicable especially with the Covid-19 pandemic where the model would suit the changes citizens made to their lifestyles. I see the implementation of this would be urban planning’s new utopia, the city will be closer to be accessible for all. Not only in Paris, this concept can also be applicable to other cities in the world.
There certainly is a need to increase the awareness of role of transport. This awareness should start at a young age so that girls know that they can pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math (S.T.E.M.), and to let them know how a career in the transportation industry can make a difference to the world.
Go for it! The sector has a huge range of jobs, all of which will let you test yourself and develop your skills in new environment. At times, it may seem like you are stepping outside your comfort zone, but this step would actually allow you to stretch yourself, realise your abilities and deliver the best experience for you to learn.
Throughout my career and on the CIHT committee, I have met so many people who have told me how satisfied they are with their job, how they can switch to the different areas of specialities and learn new things, how they find their job makes the world a better place or helps to make someone else’s life better. It is a very rewarding career.
The opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the CIHT or its members. Neither the CIHT nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.