A talented acoustic engineer, Meisha Stevens recently took home NAWIC’s Future Leader of the Year Award for developing a change management program in her own organisation that supports women in engineering.
When Stevens started her career with Wood & Grieve Engineers three years ago, she noticed many of her female colleagues struggled to “stand up or speak up for themselves”.
“I had spent the previous seven years in a very male-dominated industry, sound engineering, and that experience taught me resilience and how to speak up for myself. When I moved into acoustic engineering – also a male-dominated field – I noticed many of the women seemed reserved and shy.
“I decided to build a bigger presence for women in my own workplace, as well as in the industry,” she explains.
Stevens developed a leadership program to support WGE’s female engineers, hosting internal workshops and identifying external networking opportunities to boost confidence and skills. Monthly ‘spotlight sessions’, for example, see women unpacking a project they’ve worked on or sharing an insight into their area of specialisation. Group discussions explore workplace challenges and find solutions.
“Our program is helping women to develop confidence, and little by little helping them to find their own voice. When they are the only woman on the construction site, or are sitting in a room with 20 men, they feel confident to speak up and share their knowledge – which is why they are there in the first place.”
WGE has been “super supportive” of Stevens’ program, which is delivering dividends in more ways than one.
“When I first joined WGE, we had just three female engineers in our office. Now we have multiple engineers in every section,” Stevens adds.
“WGE has always had a strong and supportive culture. But I think business leaders understand that diversity brings diverse thinking. And that strategy is definitely paying off for us at WGE.”
Stevens’ recognition from NAWIC comes with a scholarship valued at $4,000, which she’ll invest in an accelerated leadership program with Women and Leadership Australia. Stevens also plans to roll out her workplace leadership program throughout WGE’s offices nationally.
“I’m passionate about diversity and inclusion. That’s my goal, and I know I need to be a leader if I’m going to further my message,” she says.
So what is that message?
“Give women opportunities to find their voice. This builds morale and supports diverse thinking. And that’s what we need when we are tackling complex engineering problems.”
Article courtesy of Property Council of Australia; first published 11 September 2018.