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Success through Women in Transportation


As one of the world’s most respected design, engineering, and project management consultancies, Atkins focuses primarily in threeareas: transportation, infrastructure, and energy. Transportation (highways, rail, aviation and ports) is Atkins’ largest market in North America, and they believe that their ability to deliver the complex solutions required to solve the U.S.’s looming infrastructure crisis requires the engagement of all of the country’s brightest minds—not just 50 percent of the population.

Atkins knows that women in transportation and STEM fields are critical to meeting present and future challenges and—in the big picture—provide a more balanced, diverse workforce that benefits the company as a whole. This includes women in leadership roles. New research from The Peterson Institute for International Economics reveals a six percent increase to a company’s net margin when at least 30 percent of their leaders are female.1 But how does the needle get moved in engineering and transportation professions that are predominantly male?

One of Atkins’ mottos is “small steps, giant leaps.” Which means, to achieve real change, you need to first understand the issues, then focus your efforts on the incremental steps that move you toward the goal.

A few years ago, Atkins’ colleagues in the UK partnered with the Royal Academy of Engineering, BP, and Rolls Royce to conduct a survey on women in engineering.2 While much data was available about the deficit of females in STEM subjects, none of the previous surveys asked female engineers why they chose engineering and if they were fulfilled by their career choice.

After interviewing more than 300 women, one thing was clear from the survey data—engineering had an image problem among young women. There was a lack of general awareness among young women, and they were being heavily influenced by popular culture to choose other paths. The survey results identified a number of areas for improvement:

The unknown. 87% said awareness needs to be raised about what engineers do.

More opportunities. 77% felt there needed to be more awareness on the wide array of career options available to engineering graduates.

Bad career advice. Nearly two-thirds (66%) of women engineers felt the advice about engineering careers was weak.

It’s too hard. Over half the sample (55%) felt that potential engineering students were steering clear from engineering because they thought it was too difficult.

While there is still a lot of work to do, the women who shared their experiences, beliefs, and advice in this survey provided Atkins with a great deal of hope. Making engineering a better-known career option and encouraging girls to pursue it earlier in their education may attract more women to engineering. But in the absence of an industry-aware family member, teacher, or counselor who can inform and inspire these young women, Atkins feels we all must do our part to fill that gap.

Leaders at Atkins believe we must commit to promoting engineering as a diverse and rewarding career and be the role models who can share our experience and mentor those with the interest and potential—and we need to find ways to proactively reach students and teachers, especially in middle and high schools, to educate them about the rewarding opportunities in engineering. Taking these small steps will open the doors of possibility for these young minds and ensure a diverse future workforce.

Atkins’ focus on women in engineering

  • Atkins’ U.S. workforce includes 22.7% female engineers, nearly double the 12.4% U.S. labor force average
  • 25% of our senior leadership team in North America are women
  • We’ve been named The Times Top 50 Employers for Women in 2013 and 2015
  • We’ve contributed $2.5M to STEM education and programs in the U.S.
  • 45% of protégés in Atkins’ formal mentoring program are women

About Atkins

  • 18,052 employees worldwide (Staff number at 31 March 2016)
  • Established in 1938
  • The world's 14th largest global design firm (ENR 2015)
  • The 18th largest international design firm (ENR 2015)
  • One of the top 10 firms in the Middle East and the US (ENR 2015)
  • Headquartered in London, England

In-house services

  • Architecture
  • Asset management
  • Civil engineering
  • Construction services
  • Emergency management
  • Energy
  • Environmental
  • Geomatics/surveying
  • Geospatial and data management solutions
  • Intelligent transportation systems
  • Landscape architecture
  • Master planning and urban design
  • Ports and coastal engineering
  • Project controls
  • Program management
  • Solid waste
  • Structures
  • Transportation
  • Water and wastewater
  • Water resources

Select transportation projects

Project NEON, Las Vegas, NV- lead designer for the development of a 3.7-mile freeway through the heart of Las Vegas, an area currently seeing 300,000 vehicles every day.

FasTracks East Corridor and Northwest Rail (Eagle P3), Denver, CO- providing civil, structural, utility, and rail engineering services to expand the electrified commuter rail system.

RoadX, CO – selected to advise the Colorado Department of Transportation in harnessing the power of emerging technologies to improve safety and mobility for Colorado’s transportation system.

Purple Line Light Rail Transit Project, MD – lead designer for the new $2 billion, 16-mile rail system in the Washington Metropolitan Region as part of the Fluor-led design-build team.

I-4 Selmon Expressway Connector, Tampa, FL– lead designer on the award winning, $420 million four-level directional interchange to improve Tampa’s regional traffic flow and ingress/egress to the Port of Tampa.

Louis Armstrong International Airport, New Orleans, LA– providing a full range of planning, engineering and architectural services for the airport’s long-term development, called “the most transformative project for New Orleans since the Superdome” by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Cobb County Special Purpose local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Program, GA– Since 1993, our program and construction management team has helped Cobb County successfully deliver more than 1,000 improvement projects valued at over $1.8 billion through the SPLOST program.

High Speed Rail (HS2), United Kingdom– partner in delivering a high-speed railway in Great Britain, spanning from London to Birmingham and traveling at speeds of 250mph, faster than any current operating speed in Europe.

King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia– lead designer for new 640,000 m² passenger terminal and associated buildings to increase the airport’s capacity to 30 million passengers each year.

Asia Aerospace City, Subang, Malaysia – lead consultant and master planner for world class facility for the aerospace industry. Development will be designed as a smart city with cutting edge research and development facilities, integrated office suites, academic facilities, a convention center and hotel.

Amber Cove Cruise Terminal, Dominican Republic – provided landside design and engineering services to help Carnival Corporation expand its current ports of call for cruise enthusiasts and to boost the local economy.

Learn more about Atkins’ work and career opportunities at www.atkinsglobal.com


  1. Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Surveyby Marcus Noland, Tyler Moran, and Barbara Kotschwar, Peterson Institute for International Economics. http://bit.ly/1O2xPpr
  2. Britain’s got talented female engineers. Successful women in engineering: A careers research studyby Atkins in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, BP, and Rolls Royce http://bit.ly/1RDrHMx


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