With a need for traditional, heavy earthworks, few women work as engineers or in other roles in the remediation industry. Three women from Ventia's Environmental Services business unit are hoping their example will help to change the lack of representation.

Engineering the environment

"I've always wanted to work in the 'built environment' and felt I was personally more suited to a technical role such as engineering, versus a creative career path such as architecture," says Tina Lien, Project Manager.

Having been with Ventia for the past two years, the varied profile of Environmental Services projects is helping Tina build upon her civil engineering experience, while keeping her curious about the complexities of remediation.

Another woman helping shape Environmental Services is Penelope Stewart, Design Manager, Operations.

"I develop solutions to engineering problems that are 'best-for-project' and ensure consultants produce designs that suit a project's budget and program," says Penny, who has been with Ventia for five years.

"Having worked as a Project Engineer previously, I understand the daily challenges that remediation sites present. This means I can leverage my knowledge and guide engineers when they implement a design package."

While both Penny and Tina are highly competent in their roles, achieving greater gender diversity in Environmental Services presents a challenge. In Australia in 2018, only 17.2% of undergraduate engineering degrees were earned by women; and in 2019, the representation of women working in STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-qualified occupations - stood at just 14%. This had barely improved from 11% a decade earlier. In 2020, women in all STEM industries earned 19% or $25,558 p.a. less than their male counterparts.

Tina worries that schools are not sufficiently promoting career opportunities in STEM to young women and sees this as part of the problem.

"Too often, engineering is not an encouraged career path for young women in high school. If they are not being introduced to the field, it will be difficult to achieve gender diversity in our industry"

Ventia is involved in several initiatives that help raise the profile of STEM disciplines as future career paths for school students, both girls and boys.


Getting the numbers right

Working in roles involving accounts and finance has been a hallmark of Alexandra Court's career. Commencing work as a Site Administrator on the Botany CPWE Remediation project, Alex is now the Senior Finance Administrator for Environmental Services. 

"I oversee and supervise the team of Site Administrators who are currently working on our projects," Alex says. "I also process and analyse month-end financials across the business unit and assist everyone with their finance administration needs."

Alex finds that although the Site Administration team is predominantly made up of women, they rarely see each other because they all work at different project sites or offices.
"Connecting through phone calls or MS Teams meetings helps bridge the gap," Alex says.

I've worked for Environmental Services for eleven years now, and when I'm based at a project site, I no longer notice being surrounded by mostly men. I'm just one of the team.


Pictured at top: Penelope Stewart (left), Tina Lien (middle), Alexandra Court (right)