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Women in Engineering

Karen Whitehall - BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering

Karen graduated from Abertay with a BSc in Civil Engineering in 1991.  A Chartered Civil Engineer with 27 years’ experience in the water and wastewater industry, she now heads up a team which delivers improvements to Scottish Waters assets.

Why did you decide to study engineering at Abertay?

I was interested in science and technology at school so decided on a career in engineering.  After visiting a number of universities, I chose Abertay as I found the course to be more practical and hands on than others.

What has been your career highlight to date?

I will always remember the day that my results for my Chartered exams came through. Sometimes the things that you have to work the hardest for give you the most satisfaction.

Another highlight was presenting at an international conference in Abu Dhabi. The experience itself was terrifying but the pride in being invited and the satisfaction afterwards was amazing.

How important has your Abertay degree been to date?

Without my degree from Abertay, I would not have been able achieve Chartered Engineer status and follow the career path that I have chosen.  As well as my degree being evidence of competency, I have used and built on the knowledge gained from my degree throughout my career.  

Are there barriers still to be addressed for women in this field?

I think the biggest challenge for women in engineering is getting women into the profession.  I have loved every minute of my education and found my career rewarding.  I have never found a barrier that I cannot cross and I cannot see any reason that others will not have a similar experience.  

Any advice for future women in engineering?

Set your goal, go for it and do not let anyone put you off.  It is a fantastic career choice for both men and women.