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International Women’s Day (Monday March 8th) celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, globally. This year’s theme, #ChoosetoChallenge, reminds us that we can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. This day also marks the start of Women at Imperial Week.
To kick off the week, we’ve identified some great female role models from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, here at Imperial, and asked them “how they #ChoosetoChallenge”.
Dr Alalea Kia – is a materials scientist and engineer with expertise in the durability of cement-based materials, flood mitigation and permeable pavements. Dr Kia developed Permia – a new permeable material for roads, runways, footpaths and cycle ways (available via Imperial Tech) – and a 9 square metre trial site of her new pavement can be found at Imperial’s White City Campus. Learn more about Permia – and read more about Dr Kia here.
How do you #ChoosetoChallenge?
“Females are significantly underrepresented in academia, particularly within STEM. During my laboratory and site work, which involves working in male dominated environments, I am often the only woman present. We need more women in these environments and to challenge this, I participate in STEM outreach activities, encouraging young females to study and have fulfilling careers in Engineering.”
Dr Aruna Sivakumar is a senior lecturer with expertise in modelling travel behaviour and urban energy systems. She is director of the Urban Systems Lab and leads smart city, transport and systems modelling initiatives – her work having attracted funding from the likes of EPSRC, ESRC, Shell Inc in the UK, and SMRT Singapore. Her research on activity-based microsimulation models of urban resource demands is internationally renowned and she’s advised the UK’s Departments for Transport, and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. As a STEMNET ambassador, and mentor, she looks to provide people with the benefit of her experience and insight gained over 15+ years. Read more about Dr Sivakumar here
How do you #ChoosetoChallenge?
“I would start with myself. I have in the past been too hard on myself for not exhibiting the qualities that were apparently necessary for a successful career – such as aggressiveness and overt ambition. However, these are notions driven by gender perspectives and I know for a fact that it is possible to be successful as long as you enjoy your work and are good at it”.
“Challenging stereotypical notions can be as simple as politely but clearly calling them out, and reorienting discussions. But equally, I try to overtly demonstrate my non-stereotypical behaviours and patterns, with confidence.”
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