Let’s hear it for the Women of JN!

From leadership to graduate, each of the women working at JN bring something special to the table. In celebration of International Women’s Day we wanted to introduce you to some of these extraordinary individuals we have the pleasure of working with every day.

Before we hear from these women, let’s take a look at why it is so important to celebrate women in the workforce.

It’s no secret that there are still quite a few industries out there that have a lot of work to do in balancing out diversity, particularly the male to female ratio. In engineering, statistics tell us that only 13.6% of the workforce is represented by women. That’s quite a gap, and something we are working to change.

There have been many conversations on the topic throwing around ideas such as setting gender quotas and a focus on hiring “the right man person for the job”. Needless to say, it’s a complicated issue with no one answer. We need to start laying the foundations before women even enter the workforce by encouraging them at high school, and later encouraging them to pursue a university degree in the field.

So, lets see what some of the JN team have to say about their experiences as a woman in the industry and how they got here.

Steph Dahan
Graduate Civil Engineer

Tell us a little about who you are, and what you do
I’m a Civil and Environmental Engineer. I started working at JN during my final year of university as an intern. As an intern I focused on learning from my mentors and developing my skills in engineering design. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve had the opportunity to grow into my new role as a Graduate Civil Engineer. I work alongside senior engineers to produce civil designs for roads, stormwater and carparks as well as produce a range of civil reports required for both small-scale and large-scale projects.

What drew you to Engineering in the first place?
Originally, the plan was to become an Architect. I loved the thought designing buildings and spaces. As I got talking to various friends, family and industry specialists about my goals, I learnt that engineering was more my style, particularly civil engineering. I love that every day is a new challenge, nothing is ever black and white. I love finding solutions to problems!

Could you tell us a little about the challenges you’ve faced being a woman in engineering, and what you’ve done to overcome them?
The only real challenge I’ve had during my time working as an engineer is the number of times I’ve been referred to as ‘Stephen’ in emails rather than Steph or Stephanie! I think the engineering profession has come a long way in terms of the number of women who either study engineering or work in the industry. It was very reassuring to find (despite what the common belief is) that there were actually a fair number of other girls in my classes when I turned up to my first year lectures! A lot of them, like myself, also love the design aspect of the work that engineers do and the challenge that comes along with working in a traditionally male dominated industry.

Has there been a particular woman (or women) who had an impact on you professionally? Who are they and how did they inspire you?
As I was growing up, going through the years of school and university, I was always surrounded by strong and inspirational role models, be it teachers, coaches, friends or family. These women (and some men!) taught me the power of resilience, benefits of great teamwork and the importance of taking pride in your work. I can’t think of a single individual who has most impacted my professional career as an engineer, however collectively all the women that I have worked alongside over the years have always been nothing but supportive, knowledgeable and lovely to work with.

Liz Parkin
Junior Structural Drafter

Tell us a little about who you are, and what you do
I’m Liz and I’m a Junior Structural Drafter here at JN. Having said that, I’ve been lucky enough to work within most disciplines – it can be very much “all hands on deck” in the Drafting team at times!

What drew you to Engineering in the first place?
Initially I studied Interior and Spatial Design (Interior Architecture) and fell into Structural Drafting through Scott, one of our Civil Engineers, and Dave, our Drafting Manager.

Could you tell us a little about the challenges you’ve faced being a woman in engineering, and what you’ve done to overcome them?
I really enjoy working in Engineering and being supported and encouraged as part of a team that works together to achieve results. I think I’ve been pretty lucky to have missed any significant challenges being a woman in this industry.

Has there been a particular woman (or women) who had an impact on you professionally? Who are they and how did they inspire you?
Any woman who consistently works hard and has not only the drive to succeed but also encourages, supports and builds up everyone around them.

Dr Maryam Hasheminamin
Electrical Design Engineer

Tell us a little about who you are, and what you do
I am an Engineer and an Academic. At JN I design electrical infrastructure for commercial, educational, and health care buildings.

What drew you to Engineering in the first place?
I am fascinated by the level of analytics and enjoy creating new systems and tools for people.

Could you tell us a little about the challenges you’ve faced being a woman in Engineering, and what you’ve done to overcome them?
I think there are challenges and bias in some work environments, but not all. What has really got me through this is believing in myself, working hard to do my best, and ignoring the glass ceiling.

Has there been a particular woman (or women) who had an impact on you professionally? Who are they and how did they inspire you?
Some of my favourites are:
Anousheh Ansari – the first female “tourist” who travelled in space
Maryam Mirzakhani – The only female professor who was honoured with the Fields Medal
Hedy Lamarr – a stunning actress and model and an avid inventor (beauty AND brains!). She was the person behind advances in communication technology in the 1940s which led to today’s Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth.

Neasha Jeffery
Structural Project Engineer

Tell us a little about who you are, and what you do
I look after both the Southern Highlands and Goulburn Offices, working on a wide range of structural projects that range from new residential buildings, alteration and additions to commercial/industrial projects and anything else that comes through the door.

What drew you to Engineering in the first place?
I started working for my dad’s Steel fabrication business as a general labourer. I was working on the tools and learnt a lot about the construction industry. I then studied Drafting and started to do Steel shop drawings, quotes, quantity surveying etc. I really enjoyed the industry and wanted to progress my career so I applied to study Engineering, and here I am today.

Could you tell us a little about the challenges you’ve faced being a woman in Engineering, and what you’ve done to overcome them?
I have always worked in a male dominated workplace and I have never come across any issues. I have never seen myself as being different and I think that mindset has a similar effect on clients and colleagues. I have a feeling that if you act different people will treat you different. I think the hardest challenge women face is the “career or family” dilemma. If you do both it is very hard to be give your 100% in both areas, whereas men don’t tend to have that same issue.

Has there been a particular woman (or women) who had an impact on you professionally? Who are they and how did they inspire you?
Not really. I did talk to a girl named Jillian Kilby before I applied for University. She had just won the Easter Royal Show girl competition at the time and was a civil engineer. I still follow her now and she has her own business in Dubbo, but I wouldn’t say she directly influenced me. It’s just good to see other women achieving things.