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Awards celebrate women's achievements

More than 200 women came to central London to celebrate their achievements in the built environment at the Atkins Inspire Awards ceremony on Friday (6 July).

The scheme, which aims to raise the profile of women in the industry by showcasing their successes was overwhelmed by entries in its first year.

How to encourage and keep women in the sector is the subject of much debate, and events such as this keep it high on the agenda.

Jane Wernick, one of the engineers behind the hugely popular London Eye and winner of an Outstanding Achievement award said: 'Hopefully in 10 years time we won't need this [award ceremony]. Engineering is creative - not fixing washing machines'.

According to architect Jane Duncan, winner of the Inspirational Leader award, a career in the built environment 'is just not [perceived to be] sexy anymore'.

Banishing such negative assumptions, says Duncan, is the only way to achieve a 50/50 male to female balance.

Valerie Evans, however, who also picked up an Inspire award, believed that the general consensus toward women had changed immeasurably.

'Nowadays, it is taken for granted that women are competent and able - 10 years ago women had to prove ourselves at every step.'

by Kaye Alexander

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