Event Overview




Gender disparity in the global engineering industry has been well documented, with a significant underrepresentation of women, particularly in leadership roles. The causes for the persistent underrepresentation of women in engineering fields have been widely researched, and many contributing factors have been identified. However in spite of gender equity campaigns by employers and professional bodies, evidence suggests that gender inequity is endemic within engineering work.




Why is this situation apparently so impervious to change?


Advancing Women in Engineering & Construction Symposium has been designed with the intention of giving women the space to share their experiences and contribute their thinking to the changes needed to enable change.


‘Reshaping the industry through the collective voice of women’ is primarily aimed at supporting the development and retention of women in the engineering sector and associated parts of the construction industry.



Event Overview

The full-day schedule is focused around encouraging networking and collaboration throughout, with afternoon workshops intended to lead into the development of research topics and improvement initiatives that can prompt further action. Attendees will have access to an impressive range of experts and the unique format of the event will allow smaller group interaction.



Michelle is the current president of the NZ Structural Engineering Society, a founding Director of LGE Consulting and a mother of two.  Michelle started her career in construction project management, working on large infrastructure projects in Australia and America before moving to New Zealand, where she is a Chartered Professional Engineer in structural design.  As sesocs first female president, Michelle has been in a unique position to represent women in engineering.  She has also been a keen champion of quality in structural engineering, and during her time with sesoc has been involved in advocating for change in the quality and regulatory space.  Between her involvement with SESOC, running her own business, and raising her children, Michelle looks forward to sharing some thoughts and reflections on the being a women in the engineering and construction sector.






Ceinwen McNeil is the CEO of BVT Engineering. Ceinwen is passionate about the importance of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life, and in particular she champions the rights of women. She describes her purpose in life as making sure her work enables women and girls to participate to the best of their abilities - economically, socially and environmentally. The rich diversity within the BVT staff is a testament to Ceinwen’s commitment to her values.

Not afraid to challenge the status quo, Ceinwen brings a wealth of experience to her roles in the construction industry. She has held leadership roles in the government sector, a global professional services organisation, and has run her own strategic consultancy company working in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa. Ceinwen draws on this vast experience to create value for multiple stakeholders in the construction industry.




“Engineering is an occupation in high demand and one that is highly valued, and it has been subject to feminist campaigns for equity and diversity for at least two decades.

Yet the gains have been slim. In Western countries, women continue to be underrepresented in the engineering profession, both at student and at professional levels.”



Engineering Ignorance: The problem of

gender equity in Engineering (2009)




Land & Water Leader for New Zealand at Aurecon Josie is passionate about looking at infrastructure from a broader social outcomes perspective and understands the importance of reflecting the diversity of our communities in infrastructure that will impact many generations to come.   Josie is a member of the joint Engineering New Zealand and Architecture New Zealand Diversity Accord Steering Committee with a focus of increasing female and Māori representation in infrastructure.

ABH Ltd. Ngāti Whātua Anahera Rawiri is of the Ngāti Whātua people, born and raised on her papakāinga at Orakei, Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa.  She has been a driving force behind pioneering initiatives spanning papakāinga housing, health, infrastructure, investment and property. Anahera is a Principal of ABH Limited, a homegrown company spearheading a number of private and public sector projects in the property, strategy and business advisory.


Indigenous Design Director, WSP Alayna is of Ngāi Tahu whakapapa (Tūāhuriri) and Ngāti Mamoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou whakapapa (Tūtekawa). She brings nearly two decades of challenging the design industry on social justice and equitable city making principles. Alayna sits on a number of boards and panels as a design advisory specialist, and has held Director and executive level leadership roles in government agencies and at some of the largest engineering companies in the world. Her experience spans Aotearoa, Canada and Australia, working in multi-disciplinary teams across an array of sectors and projects.

ACE New Zealand Chief Executive   After studying law and biomedical ethics at the University of Otago, Helen worked for 15 years across health law, professional regulation, patient safety policy and biomedical ethics, both in New Zealand and Canada. She then moved to the engineering sector, spending five years on the leadership team at Engineering New Zealand.  Helen is a passionate advocate for women in professional services and a driving force behind The Diversity Agenda, an award-winning programme to help engineering and architecture firms become more diverse and inclusive.


Regional Business Line Director - Buildings & Places, ANZ

At his core as an engineer. Graeme wants to be part of projects and be a part of places which serve our communities and help make peoples lives better. The basic human right to healthcare, education, housing and helping people, in particular the most vulnerable in society, is something that drives him come to work every day. Graeme is currently looking after the Buildings & Places business for AECOM across ANZ after nearly 20 years of jumping around the world firstly as a Chartered Structural Engineer and more recently leading multi-disciplinary buildings teams and businesses.




Find your support network


A buffet lunch with an emphasis on networking with leading women and an afternoon of workshop session, before drinks and canapes to finish the event.


Sponsored by

Goldie Wines




The workshops at the symposium are intended to serve as collaborative opportunities to spur the collection and development of thoughts on topics related to obstacles that women face in their careers in engineering and related professions. At the end of each workshop the goal is to have a true account of what the work environment is like, what needs to change, and what might help to keep women progressing in their careers,  all from the perspective of women.



There will be four streams of workshops in parallel, and two sessions, so each participant can select two workshops to contribute to.



Morning Workshops


·     Wahine Toa – Diversity and Inclusion – we want both


Inclusive workplaces recognise, respect, and value cultural differences and worldviews, thereby allowing team members with diverse needs to flourish. This workshop challenges participants to reflect on their identity and how it influences their experiences in their workplace. What does inclusivity look like to you based on your identity as a woman and/or a person of colour?

·     Being a Parent and a Career Professional


Having a child changes your life but shouldn’t have to change your career progression. The first step to having a successful career and being a parent, is working for a company which acknowledges that it is life changing. The workshop aims to discuss ways that companies can provide support to women both before and during maternity leave, and when they return into the office. Discussion can be had around what works well, what doesn’t work well, and what women would like to see more of, to make this transition easier for everyone involved.




·    Advocating for yourself


“She sat at the back, and they said she was shy – she lead from the front and they hated her pride…”*  The balance sometimes seems impossible, being true to yourself whilst also fitting the company profile, finding your voice whilst not being labelled ‘trouble’.  This workshop aims to discuss techniques and skills on how we can avoid being one’s own worst enemy with regards to knowing when and how to advocate for yourself. We will reflect on solidarity, toxic work culture, and knowing when is the time to leave and not blaming yourself.


*Breathe by B. Hemsley

·     Finding Satisfaction in your Career


Finding satisfaction in your work is key for maintaining motivation and advancing your career, but the path to finding meaning in your work may not be clear. This workshop aims to discuss different forms of career satisfaction and strategies for identifying the aspects of your job that you find the most rewarding. How can you shift your mindset or work with your employer to find job satisfaction?



Afternoon Workshops


·        Promoting the strengths of women’s leadership


·     Being a Woman in a Technical World


There’s the old saying that a tough woman is nasty and a tough man is a good leader. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to effective leadership, yet traditional views on what constitutes a good leader continue to dominate the engineering and construction industries. Women seeking senior leadership roles may feel compelled to take on masculine traits to advance their career, rather than leaning into non-traditional leadership styles that draw on their ‘feminine’ strengths. What systemic changes can be implemented to help promote more women into senior leadership roles based on their natural leadership styles?

In the engineering field, women are usually outnumbered from the start of the discussion and there are often a lot of unconscious biases floating around. Women feel more need to prove their experience and technical skills prior to being recognised for their worth. This workshop aims to discuss how we can overcome these biases, find our voice at the table and support other women. How can women ensure their contributions and skills are recognised as they deserve without having to jump through a bunch of hoops first?



·        Improving Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace


Companies are increasingly recognising that mental health is a crucial component of the health & wellbeing of their employees. Mental health can affect productivity, career development, and life outside of the workplace for better or for worse. This workshop aims to facilitate discussion about factors in the workplace that contribute to positive or negative mental health outcomes. How can women’s perspectives on wellbeing enhance mental health in the workplace?

·     Encouraging Meaningful Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace


How can we encourage workplaces to see diversity and inclusion as more than a tick box exercise? The aim of this workshop is to discover how we can drive and influence change, while not being seen as troublemakers. For companies to see the benefits of diversity, there needs to be more action than just writing a bunch of policies that say what they want to achieve. Change needs to come from the support of the leaders, but how can we encourage them that change is required?







Keen to add your voice to the collective?


Registration is open to all women, non-binary individuals, allies and supporters of a more diverse and inclusive industry.

Cost  $150 per person


Registration includes full day attendance, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea


Alongside civil and structural engineers

in particular, we also welcome architects,

regulatory officials, and project managers

and any others working/or worked previously in a technical role

associated with the built environment.




Register at Eventbrite:


Text Box: Register Now






The AWEC Symposium is kindly supported by:



Gold Sponsors:






Bronze Sponsors: