Planning for a bias-free future

Gemma Seuss is a Planning Engineer for the Southsea Coastal Scheme. She undertakes the huge task of managing the entire project plan and keeping it updated with onsite progress, as well as providing technical and engineering support to the team.

To Gemma, the International Women’s Day theme of ‘Breaking the Bias’ is all about breaking the habit of making assumptions.

Gemma said: “We can empower people to feel confident in their abilities by allowing them equal access to opportunities and not making assumptions based on appearance or background.

“Most people are capable of doing so much more than it is assumed, and not recognising this can lead them to believe they have to exceed expectations to prove themselves.”

Gemma’s previous roles in water treatment works saw her outnumbered by men – at one point she was the only woman in a team of 50! A more recent planning engineer role in a high-pressured, male-dominated team of more than 100 made her feel she couldn’t always get her voice heard.

Although there are more men than women working at the Southsea Coastal Scheme, the smaller team and Gemma’s more focussed role are providing her with job satisfaction and opportunities to develop new skills.

“Being more focussed on planning has allowed me to get a better understanding of the contractual side of the project and to work on the tender process for future phases of work.

“It feels like a much more equal environment where everyone’s voice can be heard. I don’t feel the need to go over and above to prove myself here: I can be judged on my actions and outputs alone.”

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