Women in construction: Breaking down the barriers

Two female engineers from Binnies Singapore were featured in Southeast Asia Construction (SEAC) magazine, discussing their experiences as women in the engineering and construction industry. Sri Hernani Mohamed Affandi, Binnies Process Technology Specialist, and Rebecca Cheng, Binnies Senior Civil and Structural Manager, spoke to SEAC for its Women in Construction series. The resulting articles were published on 25 March and 9 April, respectively. 

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Sri Hernani is a Binnies Singapore process and hydraulic specialist and is primarily involved in the feasibility study or preliminary design stages of projects. To provide an insight into the role of a hydraulics engineer in Singapore, the work she gets involved in and the challenges the industry faces, Sri Hernani talked to SEAC about her experience of working in a male-dominated industry. 

“I am fortunate to work in a company where female professionals are well represented in various roles, including office and team leaders, and where there is a culture of respect for all professionals regardless of gender, race or religion,” Sri Hernani said, and added that Binnies is “supportive and understanding about the challenges that many women face at work, like the taking of maternity and childcare leave, as well as the juggling of work and the care of our children on a daily basis. Binnies is open to flexible working arrangements should the need arise, and even provides a clean and secure room for nursing mothers within office premises.” 

If you have curiosity and passion for the industry, go for it 

Rebecca similarly rose through the ranks in a male-dominated industry and now leads a team of civil and structural engineers to deliver civil and structural designs for water and wastewater projects across Singapore. 

Explaining her work, Rebecca said, “Over the years, I have progressively broken this negative perception by putting extra effort into gaining hands-on experience. Learning more about the industry also helped me develop important skills and build my confidence. I no longer face any barrier working in a male-dominated environment and in fact, I now enjoy working with them as they always motivate me to perform at my best and go the extra mile whenever faced with challenges.” 

Both Sri Hernani and Rebecca were keen to encourage more women to pursue a career in engineering and construction and concluded the articles by sharing their key pieces of advice. For Sri Hernani, her advice for aspiring engineers is “to work hard and let your results speak for themselves”, while Rebecca says, “My advice is: don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Gaining hands-on field experience early will help you later in your career, particularly when you have to overcome difficult challenges and make crucial decisions.” 

You can read both Sri Hernani and Rebecca’s articles in full on the SEAC magazine website.