Where smart engineering meets intelligent insights

WGA AU | Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec - Photo: Where smart engineering meets intelligent insights

Why do we want diversity, why is this important to WGA?

I think to solve the complex engineering problems that we’re dealing with, we need diverse thought, and to achieve diverse thought we need a diverse group of people in the room, with different experience, from different background.  

When a diverse group of individuals are involved in decision-making, they can bring different ideas and viewpoints to the discussion, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions. 

What are the challenges of being in a male dominated industry?

It didn’t really hit me that I would be entering a male dominated industry until I was on site for vacation work. I liked maths and chemistry, and chose to study engineering, and I was never discouraged at school or by my family to pursue engineering.  

I think whether its conscious or unconscious, there’s been times I’ve been made to feel unwelcome.  

And my experience is not the same as other women of a different generation, or women who look different to me –  we all have a different experience, so I don’t want to speak on behalf of all women.  

I think, starting as a young female engineer, there were some challenges. Some of these are not unique to women, but are more likely to occur to women.  

 What have you noticed at WGA?  What do you see is our biggest opportunity to improve our gender balance at leadership level?


I was fortunate enough to meet some really strong female role models in senior technical roles early in my career, and I noticed the difference in companies where I didn’t see any senior women. I think when people see individuals who look like them or come from similar backgrounds in positions of power or success, they are more likely to feel like they can also achieve success in that field.Question, is this the space for me in the long run. 

But what I think, despite where we are at now, I think this is the place to be. If you look under the hood, I think we have the right values, we just need to make it a priority. 

What are some of the ways we can remove barriers to enable women to progress towards leadership positions?

  • prioritise this as a key goal. This change needs to be driven from the top and not left as the responsibility of women alone.  
  • Leadership representation: Promoting female role models and representation, and supporting women in those roles. 
  • Mentorships can be powerful in terms of supporting women’s progress.
  • Improving Parental Leave and Flexibility: Maintaining flexibility, especially when women return to work after parental leave. This will ensure that women can balance their work and personal responsibilities effectively. 
  • We can also set some targets for removing these barriers… 

What do reasonable targets look like?  What have you seen done well before?  And what hasn’t?

  • Quotas vs targets, 2 separate things, targets help with goal setting
  • Setting targets for aspiration: Not quotas, but aiming for something that will help the business move towards gender balance. This will enable businesses to measure progress and work towards achieving gender parity.
  • I think any good target is smart, you need a timeframe and a target %
  • What hasn’t worked before is filling quotas and then not supporting women in those roles. This can create a hostile response and undermine the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives.

What could mentorship look like for our female staff?  Have you seen this done well before

Mentors are important for all our staff, men and women. I think what’s important is representation in mentors, in terms of finding a mentor who has the advice and guidance you’re looking for, through their experienceI think what’ s worked well for me is thinking of mentors, more as a,board of mentors who can guide you on different aspects. But relying on mentoring is an individual solution to a structural problem, it’s a tool in our toolkit.. 

Being realistic, women are obviously more likely to leave for a time to have a baby.  Stats will show that we (and industry) often lose those people which hurts our pathway towards female leaders.  How can we help avoid losing our staff or making that process a barrier in their career progression where it hasn’t been so much for men?

There’s some ways to maintain women’s  connection with the workplace and support their progression towards leadership positions:

  • Maintain connection with the workplace: through touch points, such as keeping in touch days, to help women stay connected with their workplace during their time away. This can help them feel valued and included, and can make the transition back to work smoother.
  • Part-time options: Offering part-time work options can provide a more flexible approach to returning to work after having a baby. This can help women maintain their career trajectory while balancing their family responsibilities.
  • Avoid making assumptions: Conversations about career aspirations should be open and honest, without making assumptions. It’s important not to assume that women will not want to pursue leadership positions because they may have a baby in the future. 
  • Non gendered parental leave.
  • Training and development opportunities: Employers can offer training and development opportunities to help women keep their skills current and prepare them for new opportunities when they return to work after parental leave. This can help them feel supported and valued, and can improve their chances of progressing towards leadership positions

There’s some good ideas that we can take forward with leadership and as a company, is there anything that we can all do?  And by that, I mean all of our staff irrespective of gender or their role?

  • I think the solution to removing barriers is structural and requires leadership from the top, but there areother  day to day things we can do to make sure we maintain an inclusive culture.
  • Some thought into whether your team activities or more social engagement with clients are inclusive. Is there a different time or type of activity you could be doing. Are the way and the types of events mean that only a certain segment of the team have the opportunity to connect with leadership 
  • Calling out bad behaviour: It’sreally important for peers and leaders to teak responsibility to address unacceptable behaviour at work. Earlier in my career it was more difficult to speak up, especially when it was directed at me, it’s  more difficult when you’re at the bottom end of a power dynamic. So that’s really where peers and leaders can step in to say that, some behaviours aren’t acceptable. 

 Find out more about Jess Page here.