The topic of gender equality in the workplace has made significant strides over the years, but one question remains:


Does the glass ceiling still exist for women in their career progression?

As we reflect on this important issue, it’s crucial to acknowledge the progress that has been made in breaking down barriers and dismantling outdated stereotypes. However, the reality is that many women still face obstacles and systemic challenges that impede their career advancement. From pay disparities to limited opportunities for leadership roles, the glass ceiling persists in various forms, casting a shadow over the aspirations of talented and ambitious women.

As an experienced female professional, I’ve had to navigate all of these issues, and I now view my role as one of support for young female engineers. How can we encourage a more inclusive engineering community where everyone has the chance to succeed?

In this blog I’m going to explore three barriers which still exist for women as we strive for progression in the workplace:

  • Unconscious Bias,
  • Navigating Networking
  • Work-life Balance

Unconscious Bias

It’s a scenario that plays out far too often in workplaces around the world: unconscious bias rearing its head in the form of preferential treatment for males over their female counterparts.

It’s imperative that we confront these biases head-on and work tirelessly to create environments where talent is recognised and rewarded based on merit, not gender. Preferential treatment not only undermines the contributions of women but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and impedes progress toward true gender equality.

So, let’s challenge ourselves to be vigilant in recognising and addressing unconscious bias in all its forms. Let’s champion diversity and inclusion, celebrate the unique perspectives and talents that each individual brings to the table, and create workplaces where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.


Navigating Networking

Networking plays a crucial role in career advancement, but for many female engineers, navigating networking events can present unique challenges. It’s a scenario that’s all too familiar, male engineers forging connections with bosses at events outside of work, maybe on the golf course, maybe in a bar, leading to preferential treatment and opportunities for promotion.

But what about the younger female engineers? Often, they may feel excluded from these informal networking opportunities or uncomfortable participating. The result? A perpetuation of bias and a widening gap in advancement opportunities.

For more established female engineers, it’s imperative that we recognise and address these disparities head-on. Creating inclusive networking environments where all individuals feel welcomed and valued is essential to promoting equity and fostering a culture of inclusion. What out-of-work activities could everyone enjoy, male and female, younger and older?


Work-Life Balance

In the pursuit of work-life balance, there’s a persistent double standard that often goes unnoticed: the expectation that single women must prioritise their careers over personal fulfilment, while their male counterparts are afforded more flexibility and understanding. And god help the woman who wants to get married or have a family! Do we really just ‘want it all’? Many female engineers do … and really, in this day and age, why shouldn’t they?

Why is it that women feel pressured to go above and beyond their day job activities just to be accepted, while our male colleagues can seem to navigate work-life balance with greater ease?

The truth is, societal expectations and deeply ingrained stereotypes continue to shape our perceptions of gender roles in the workplace. Women are often held to higher standards, expected to prove themselves capable of juggling multiple responsibilities. Yet here’s the thing … work-life balance is not a luxury reserved for a select few — it’s a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, regardless of gender or marital status.


There is a Silver Lining

By shining a light on these barriers and fostering conversations around gender equality, we can drive meaningful change and create pathways for women to reach their full potential. As leaders, advocates, and allies, it’s important for us to challenge the status quo, champion diversity and inclusion, and create inclusive workplaces where all individuals have equal opportunities to thrive.

So, to my fellow professionals, let’s continue to push boundaries, break down barriers, and pave the way for a future where the glass ceiling is nothing more than a relic of the past. Together, we can make equality not just a goal, but a reality.