Closing the gap: Women in engineering
For Interflow Project Engineer, Queenie Trinh, the gender imbalance within civil engineering did nothing to deter her from diving into the industry. She enjoys the variety of her role and has forged a successful career in project management and discovered the value of getting a first-hand insight into work practices by literally getting in the trenches with her colleagues.
Interflow Project Engineer Queenie Trinh’s decision to pursue engineering was made after a fateful visit to the University of Technology Sydney, where she learned about the discipline and was lured in by the promise of variety.
“I hate to be stuck indoors because if you’re inside most of the time, then you’re behind a computer,” she said.
“But I saw that engineering wasn’t the same monotonous thing day after day; you could be challenged every day, so that’s what interested me.”
A woman in a ‘man’s world’?
With her sights set on becoming a project engineer, Queenie focused on the opportunities available to her and didn’t give the gender disparity of the industry a second thought.
“I wasn’t discouraged by the gender imbalance of the industry because I didn’t even think about it as a thing. So, because I didn’t know about it, I wasn’t worried about it,” she said.
As a female engineer in NSW, Queenie has become used to being the only woman on-site. Yet she has forged effective working relationships with her clients and colleagues at Interflow – Australia’s industry leader in infrastructure network solutions – based on her experience and expertise.
Earning your stripes in the trenches
Queenie said she has gained the respect of clients and colleagues by working side-by-side with them on-site, and then using the experience and insight she gained to plan and manage projects.
“I have been with my team for about four years and at the beginning I was with them on-site, day in and day out,” she recalls.
“By being on-site, and kind of feeling their pain, you get a sense of how they work, how they think, and see how they do things. You also have the opportunity to solve problems, using ingenuity and by being practical.”
“If you are just planning projects without understanding how the team goes about their day-to-day work, then you wouldn’t be able to find the balance between them needing to follow your suggestions, and them knowing that you’re on their side.”
Getting out there
While Queenie had never felt disadvantaged as a woman in the industry, she believes that attracting more females into the field would help debunk any existing gender stereotypes.
“Having women out there doing the work, as opposed to just having every site full of males, would be great,” she said.
Interflow’s Managing Director, Geoff Weaver, said Interflow was always looking for opportunities to attract more women to the company given the intrinsic value and perspective that they can add to the business, with the benefits of greater diversity being felt by Interflow’s employees and clients alike.
“Provided that people can add value and feel valued, we want them with us. So, at Interflow, we actively embrace all aspects of diversity, including age, ethnicity and gender,” he said.
When asked what advice she’d give to other women looking to enter the industry, Queenie’s answer is simple.
“Go for it. If you want to do something different, give it a go,” she said.
“There are a lot of different challenges, they’ll get a lot of experience out of it, and their days will change from hour to hour.
“They will need to think on their feet and they won’t ever be bored.”