Ladies in waiting

29 November 2021

Women make up around half of the world’s population but are underrepresented in nearly every walk of life. Especially construction. In the UK, women make up roughly 13% of the construction industry; in the US it is about the same. But the majority of these will be working in office and admin roles. Go to site and it’s a different story.

According to figures from the European Commission, only 2% of workers on site globally are women. Indeed, to see a women working on a job site is typically the exception, and not the rule. Which is why, this month in T&TI, it is gratifying to see women included who are clearly part of a tunnelling team.

On the cover we have Anna Merkulova who is there for good reason. She is an engineer, and a member of the BTS and ITA. And, as CEO of the Mosproekt-3 group of companies, is a key player in the rapid expansion of the Moscow Metro where more than 30 (yes, 30) TBMs have been mining the tunnels of the Big Circle Line (read the fascinating interview with Merkulova on p.18). While on p35, as part of Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project, we have another female tunnel engineer, this time ‘at the face’, so to speak, in the Albert Street cavern, Brisbane. In my mind, this is an exciting photo that shows a lady engineer walking with confidence and purpose within a highly complex work site.

As with the picture on our cover (which by the way is not at a site in progress), both are professional images that show tunnelling in a good light, and no doubt could inspire young ladies to consider a career in engineering.

Which of course would be no bad thing: figures for women in engineering are lower than the construction average but are improving: in the UK, women roughly account for just over 10% of engineering professionals (up from 5.8% in 2009), while the number of women in engineering roles has almost doubled in the past decade, from just over 25,000 to just over 50,000, according to Wise. So there is light at the end of the tunnel (sorry). Things will improve - it’s just that they may take some time.

George Demetri Editor