Women engineers deconstruct the barriers with skill and intelligence

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2007, 12:00am

Many young professionals find a mentor in the form of a senior colleague or renowned expert. But simply seeing Hong Kong's modern landmarks taking shape was enough to inspire two women to become civil engineers.

'My interest in engineering arose when the Tsing Ma Bridge was being built,' said Eva Kong Nai-kui, a senior project engineer with Gammon Construction who is now working on Chep Lap Kok's Skypier ferry terminal.

'I was so impressed by the scale of it and how such projects are very important. I like practical stuff, and engineering is not only that - it has benefits for the wider society.'

Being part of this success story also inspired Jenny Yeung, holder of the 2006 Young Engineer of the Year award and a government geotechnical engineer.

Ms Yeung and Ms Kong said there were obstacles to being a woman engineer - especially on construction sites - but viewed these as temporary hurdles in the early stages of their careers.

'A friend of my mum's said I wouldn't be able to find a job as she said engineering was not suitable for women, but my career has proved otherwise,' said Ms Yeung, who is responsible for the safety of slopes and preventing landslips.

'The challenges we face are much the same as those faced by our male counterparts. As long as you're seen as technically capable and perform professionally, they realise you are professional, and even tone down the foul language.'

For women interested in becoming civil engineers, the advice is to be passionate and committed. 'Expect to get your hands dirty, though,' said Ms Yeung.

This article is part of a series on engineering trends and development, produced in association with The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. It is published on the last Saturday of every month