Females in Construction and Engineering Break the Mold

SRC female students opt for engineering and construction courses at SRC

It is often thought that females are underrepresented in the construction and engineering sector.

But there is one lecturer at Southern Regional College determined to change this narrative… Melanie Boyce. 

Melanie teaches on the College’s Construction BSc Degree programmes in both the Portadown and Newry campuses and has worked in a variety of roles in the construction sector. 

Melanie’s CV experience is impressive having worked as a quantity surveyor in a multi-disciplinary consultancy firm and as a traffic and transport engineer, designing by-passes and undertaking traffic impact assessments. 

She has also worked as a project manager on one of the largest demolition sites in Northern Ireland.

This role has seen Melanie manage personnel, work progress, health and safety, site finances and environmental concerns.

Melanie has worked within civil engineering teams where the ratio of female to male civil engineers was almost 50%. 

As Melanie said: “I think parents are sometimes not aware of the vast numbers of professional women working both as consultants or on construction sites; some of the greatest architects and engineers in the world are women.

“Take Zaha Hadid for example. She is possibly one the UK’s greatest architects and was presented with the Pritzker Architecture prize, an international architecture award in 2004.”

Melanie Boyce who teaches on the SRC’s BSc Degree Construction course.

Melanie added: “It may be viewed as a male dominated industry, but I have had the luxury of working with mixed teams and have always been treated with the same respect afforded to my male counterparts. 

“Respect is earned and that is the same for everyone in any industry regardless of gender.  

“Your skills and experience speak for themselves, but the most important thing is to believe in own your capabilities and not be limited by what others think.”

“Career opportunities and roles within the sector are vast. 

“For persons with an arts background, architects, designers and interior designers are in demand to shape how a building feels and more importantly how it is lived in. 

“For those with a science background, then perhaps an engineering role would be of more interest. 

“Engineers come to a task with an open mind ready to problem solve and trouble shoot, communicating with other stakeholders.  Perhaps analysing environmental or social impacts of proposed projects.”

Students and in particular young females should be encouraged to see the various roles in the industry Melanie said, adding: “They go beyond traditional roles of digger drivers and bricklayers. 

“Whilst these roles are fundamental to the sector and these persons are very much part of the team, there are opportunities.

“If you can hang of the side of high-rise buildings using ropes, then there’s a job role for that.  If you want to work to reduce carbon emissions, then the possibilities in the industry are endless. 

“You can work on all types of structures, residential, commercial, industrial, healthcare, sewage and water treatment, roads, airports, docks, drainage, fitting out cruise ships, professional cleaning, painting to estate agents and surveyors.”

“For those interested in a career in the sector, there is the potential to be well compensated and be part of a team that physically changes the landscape. 

“To be part of a team that creates monumental change is inspiring.  The construction sector is full of problem solvers with a ‘can do’ attitude.  It’s an exciting industry where technology and design are constantly pushing the limits. 

Those interested in a career in the construction and engineering industry might be building the next ski resort in the desert, reclaiming land back from the ocean or building four storeys underneath the ground, while pushing the skyline upwards. 

“The construction of buildings and other infrastructure projects provides a great sense of pride. 

“The sector really changes peoples’ lives whether it is in the construction of schools, hospitals, roads, flood defences, waste water treatment works or building homes.”

At Southern Regional College, there are opportunities for school leavers and adult returners to launch a career within the construction and engineering sector, with either a further education or higher education programme.