Dr. Christina J. Hopfe, CEng FCIBSE FHEA CEPHD
Programme Director Low Carbon Building Design and Modelling
Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Building Design
More than 20 years ago, when I decided to study civil engineering, I applied for an internship at a construction company. This was a mandatory requirement for the degree I was studying for at the time. In order to be awarded this placement I wrote more than 30 applications, all of which were rejected. When I subsequently telephoned one of the offices to enquire why that was, the excuse baffled me and still reradiates in my mind. The reason for not being able to get a position was to do with the necessity to provide a separate female toilet on-site. Regulations at the time required separate toilet possibilities for men and women: and evidently, the costs for an additional loo (even on a multi-million Euro project) would have been too high.
Times have changed significantly since then. Many more women have entered engineering and science professions and their presence has progressively made things easier, and more amenable for many of us. I am proud to say that in my current team of PhD supervisions, forty percent of the students are women; all of them are highly talented and will have incredible careers ahead of them in the field of sustainable building design, performance modelling and energy demand. The LoLo CDT offers great possibilities for women from all walks of life to work independently with world leading experts from academia, industry and energy policy.
I know I made the right choice to embark on a career in Engineering at the time; even if I had a bumpy start. The hurdles have got less over time and the skills gained from overcoming challenges have strengthened my resolve to help others facing diverse societal barriers to succeed!