Keltbray, which is a UK leading specialist business that offers engineering, construction, demolition, decommissioning, remediation, rail and environmental services, is marking National Women in Engineering Day, by calling for the construction industry to tackle future skills and labour shortages by closing the gender gap and increasing workforce diversity.

According to The Women’s Engineering Society, which is a professional, not-for-profit network of women engineers, scientists and technologists, only 6% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female. While the percentage of female engineers within Keltbray Group is 15%, and so more than double the national average, Keltbray sees it as a key challenge to increase this number and attract the best skills and talent from ALL parts of society to meet future skills shortages.

Keltbray Group’s Training and Development Director, Holly Price, said: “With the construction industry at full throttle and likely to exceed pre-recession levels this year, we have long known that attracting the best skills and talent from all parts of society is one of the biggest challenges we face.

“Forecasts suggest that an additional 200,000 jobs will be created in the construction industry over the next five years, and that more than twice that could retire over the same period. While it is pleasing that new figures released at the end of March by the Government show an increase in the number young people taking up apprenticeships and traineeships, we in construction need to attract more female workers.”

At present Keltbray employs around 60 engineers, of nine of whom are female, and most of whom are engaged by Keltbray’s engineering design consultancy, Wentworth House Partnership, and where Director, Stuart Vaughn, is appealing to ALL engineers with an interest in temporary works or geotechnical design wishing to come forward. For more information about the roles available, please email [email protected]


More information

High resolution photographs of some of Keltbray’s femail engineers can be accessed via this link:

For more information, please contact Keltbray’s head of communications, Marit Meyer-Bell, on tel. 0786 765 3392 or by email to [email protected]

Picture caption: The picture shows four of Keltbray Group’s engineers (from left to right), including Dr. Christina Kantartzi, Katherine Houston, Viktoria Pravcheva and Ioanna Lampropoulou, all of which you can read more about below:

Dr. Christina Kantartzi,Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Wentworth House Partnership 

After completing her PhD in Geotechnical Engineering at Queen Mary University of London in the mid-90s, Christina returned to her native Athens, where she enjoyed a 20-year long career. She recently moved back to the UK to give her children an international education and expand their future options.

She says: “It has been good for me professionally to move to the UK and extend my opportunities for learning and development. While engineering is the same all over the world, I’ve had to get to grips with British Standards and expose myself to new challenges. In Greece, we don’t have the same gender gap in engineering as we do in Britain, and in my view it is important for women not to let this deter them from a career in this field. When choosing a career, the key thing is to find out what you’re good at and professionally pursue what you enjoy doing.”


Katherine Houston, Principal Engineer, Wentworth House Partnership

In 1980 Katherine was the first woman to complete an HNC in Engineering at Glasgow College of Technology. Despite working on oil rig designs in the early 1980s, Katherine and other women were at that time prohibited from setting foot on the off-shore rigs.

When moving to London in the late 1980s Katherine found employers to be more supportive of female engineers: “When returning from a two-month maternity leave after having my first son, I ended up running the engineering department for a well-known construction company for a number of years. They supported me the best they could, and on the days I struggled to collect my son from nursery in time, I was able to radio the nearest tipper truck, which would then swing by the nursery to pick him up for me.

“Some women think you have to be aggressive to survive as a female in this industry. I don’t agree with that, but it helps to give as good as you get, and ignore any mockery and set yourself in respect,” she said.


Viktoria Pravcheva, Graduate Engineer, Wentworth House Partnership

Viktoria is studying Civil Engineering at University of Bath, where around 30% of her fellow students are female, although many end up working in other industries, such as banking. As part of her sandwich degree, Viktoria has spent the past year working on temporary works design for demolition projects at Wentworth House Partnership.

Viktoria says: “My parents both studied mechanical engineering, but advised me against following in their footsteps. They warned me that I would get cold and wet on site. However, for me it was really important to study something I enjoy. Given that I always loved science and maths at school, civil engineering seemed the right way to go.

“This placement year at Wentworth House Partnership has confirmed that I did the right thing. Temporary works may not seem like everybody’s idea of fun, but I think it’s an incredible exciting field. Each project is unique and challenges you to think differently to ensure people’s safety.”


Ioanna Lampropoulou, Graduate Engineer, Keltbray Piling

Ioanna joined Keltbray after completing her MSc in Soil Mechanics and Engineering Seismology at Imperial College in 2012, where only six out of 32 students were female, and none of them British.

She said: “I can only speculate why there were only six girls on my course, and none of them British, but I do think civil engineers enjoy a higher status and are better remunerated in other countries.

“It is a shame so few British girls choose a career in engineering, as it is both interesting and challenging. The work is varied and gives you the opportunity to visit sites, which means you are not stuck in the office all the time. I think this is a great job for girls, which involves a lot of creativity in the constant problem solving you are exposed to. I am also well respected by the guys on site, and really enjoy what I do.”