A member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East has been identified as one of the most influential women in the engineering sector.
As part of International Women in Engineering Day, The Daily Telegraph has recognised Fellow of the ICE and member of ICE Council Kate Cairns, among their Top 50 Women in engineering (WE50): Returners and Transferrers 2018.
Kate, from Newton by the Sea, was selected for challenging convention, overcoming adversity and affecting change in her roles as a consultant, advocate and professional speaker.
Kate has over 20 years’ experience in the civil engineering sector, including driving the inception and evolution of two international construction industry standards in sustainability and safety. She is a strong advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), chairing the national ICE FIR (fairness inclusion and respect) panel.
She also founded the See Me Save Me campaign to eliminate lorry danger after her sister, Eilidh, was killed when struck from behind by a fully laden tipper lorry whilst cycling to work. Kate’s advocacy work resulted in the London Mayor’s Safer Lorry Scheme and the world’s first Direct Vision Standard for HGVs which will come into force in 2020.
“Having recently had the privilege of judging the European Women in Science and Engineering awards and witnessed the palpable power, intellect and charisma in the room, and seen the surge in willingness of women to stand up, be counted, be seen and be heard, I feel proud to be a woman in this profession,” she said.
Kate, who has been turned into superhero ‘Enviro’ as part of the Great North Engineering Experience, added: “Awards are necessary to celebrate achievement, and to shine a light for those who struggle to see the existence of women with talent, ambition and potential.
“We must open our eyes, and our minds, to people who are not like us, to minority groups, to BAME, to LGBTQ+. Comfort and familiarity might be easy but when we are brave, curious and open we find life’s riches.
“I am grateful to WES and The Telegraph for recognising and celebrating those of us challenging the norm, taking a different route, and forging a new way.”
ICE president, Professor Lord Robert Mair, added: “I first met Kate in the House of Lords where she had come to give evidence to a select committee on reducing road danger and improving justice for vulnerable road users.
“As an engineer, a campaigner and a politician, Kate uses every avenue possible to affect change and improve lives for those around her and the wider community. It is rewarding to see her huge efforts recognised on this national scale. Kate is a trailblazer and illustrates that anything is possible. I'm sure many more aspiring women and people from all backgrounds will follow her.”
Kate, who is a Chartered Civil Engineer, a Chartered Environmentalist, a Fellow of the ICE and a member of ICE Council, has also been chosen as one of the 12 ‘invisible superheroes’ as part of the Great North Engineering Experience, which is currently at the Mining Institute in Newcastle.
Kate also achieved a Commendation for the Northern Power Woman ‘Person with a Purpose’ award 2015 and was shortlisted for the WISE Health and Safety award in 2015.
The Great North Engineering Experience is on at the Mining Institute on Westgate Road, Newcastle, 10am to 6pm Tuesdays to Sundays, until September 9.