Kirsten Elder #BreakTheBias for International Women’s Day 2022

Kirsten was one of the first employees to join the team at Scotch Partners 10 years ago when we started our business. Originally joining as the lead Sustainability Consultant, she worked her way up to Technical Director level and then in 2021 was appointed as a Partner of our practice.

We caught up with Kirsten for International Women’s Day to find out what she thinks about the campaign and this years’ theme #BreakTheBias:

What does International Women’s Day and this years’ theme #BreakTheBias mean to you?

For much of my working life I have come across woman who have felt the need or been expected to act like men to gain respect and progress their career. I get it. I’ve also felt this pressure, it’s hard not to within our industry (engineering & construction). So, this year’s theme resonates strongly with me because I’ve always tried to fight against this pressure and to just be me… “too emotional” (emotionally intelligent), “too headstrong” (resilient and tenacious); “too outspoken” (challenging the expected). And now here I am, recently promoted to Partner of a Building Services Engineering Practice, and I’m not even an engineer!

I’m not sure how many women are at the most senior position of a UK engineering practice, but we are certainly in the minority so will have broken the bias to get there. I feel proud of my achievement and hope I have shown other women in my company that there are opportunities for them and they can make it to the top, but without having to compromise who they are.

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is important?

Diversity brings different ideas, opinions and ways of thinking. It supports a healthy community and it also ensures a strong, balanced and healthy business. We have a great team at Scotch, and a great culture and feeling of community, and I’m certain that our diversity plays a big part in that.

What was the most important piece of advice you have been given?

Understand the difference between assertion and aggression. Aggression can be the quickest and easiest reaction, but it will get you nowhere. Assertion takes a bit more work but once you master it, it will take you so much further.

What piece of advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in the career that you do?

Work hard and forge your own path, but don’t forget to listen, learn, and respect others.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.