Author: Guest Author

Gender Equality Opportunities in STEM & Construction

By Charlene Wheeless

​Charlene Wheeless is the principal vice president of Global Corporate Affairs at Bechtel​.

Women make-up nearly 40 percent of the world’s workforce but remain significantly underrepresented in the senior management and executive ranks of business organizations, including Bechtel. Bechtel Limited’s recently published ​"UK Gender Gap Pay Report 2017" provides an example of this disparity. At Bechtel Limited, our UK business, gender representation in the lower pay quartile is 58 percent male, 42 percent female; in the highest quartile, male and female representation is 88 percent and 12 percent, respectively. We are not alone. On average, women represent 45 percent of the workforce of S&P 500 companies, but only 11 percent of the top earners.  Worldwide, less than 19 percent of firms have a female top manager.    

Turning the tide is imperative.

At Bechtel, part of our overall approach is to continue our leadership role in increasing women representation in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Gender representation is a particularly large challenge in our industry. Currently, the percentage of women who work in the engineering and technology segments globally is in the single digits. As a company, and as an industry, we must ask Why?

Data shows that in primary education there is near gender parity in STEM, however, the number of females at the secondary level drops exponentially. Women continue to remain under-represented among college graduates with STEM degrees, for which the global gender gap stands at 47 percent, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report. The study identifies​ several contributing factors to this disparity, including stereotypes, social attitudes, and lack of role models. For example, Girls Who Code research discovered high school girls in the U.S. are 30 percent less likely to study computing because of the lack of female peers in those courses.

One way Bechtel is working to shift the mindsets and stereotypes is through our partnership with MacGillivray Freeman Films and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Together we launched a first-of-its-kind IMAX® film Dream Big: Engineering our World, which showcases engineers—many of them women—who have changed the world. In 2017, the film was viewed by more than 1.5 million people in 15 countries. We have also created complementary resources that include activities, videos, and other tools for educators to use and share in classrooms and communities to inspire more young minds.

Bechtel is also partnering with organizations that create points of contact throughout the educational lifecycle (from elementary school through college) to ensure girls’ success in STEM. We’re seeing some positive results from these efforts, but we are not declaring victory. This is an ongoing process. True results will be measured by steadily increasing numbers of women in STEM careers, in management positions, in leadership roles, and in boardrooms.   

This is the first in a series of blog articles focused on addressing gender equality.


Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.

Blog Description

The Build100 blog brings together Bechtel and industry experts to share insights and innovations around global sustainability issues that will have an impact over the next 100 years.


Twitter #Build100

Post Archive

September 2018(5)
August 2018(2)
July 2018 (6)
June 2018(2)
May 2018(3)
April 2018(9)
March 2018(3)
February 2018(2)
January 2018(1)
December 2017(2)
November 2017(3)
October 2017(4)
September 2017(3)
August 2017(4)
July 2017(2)
June 2017(3)
May 2017(3)
April 2017(2)
February 2017(1)
January 2017(3)
December 2016(1)
November 2016(2)
October 2016(1)
September 2016(1)
August 2016(1)
July 2016(2)
June 2016(1)
May 2016(1)
April 2016(2)
March 2016(2)
February 2016(1)
January 2016(1)
November 2015(2)
October 2015(3)
September 2015(1)
April 2015(3)
October 2014(2)


Subscribe to Bechtel Blogs to receive email alerts when new blog posts are published.