Mentoring the next generation of women on the Metro Tunnel

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To mark International Women’s Day this March, the Metro Tunnel Project is celebrating the brilliant women leaders working on our city-shaping project.

One of them is Nicole McCarthy, a project engineer on the new State Library Station, which is taking shape more than 30 metres below Swanston St.

“I get to go on site, and every time I do, it blows my mind,” she said.

“Standing in the station cavern and seeing how big it is, is amazing. The photos don’t do it justice. You need to see it in person to appreciate how big this project is.”

Ms McCarthy was one of only six women in her first-year engineering class at Perth’s Curtin University.

When she began her career, first in water infrastructure, she didn’t see many female role models in the industry and the ones who did blaze a trail before her faced many hurdles.

“Twenty years ago, I saw women who were five or 10 years ahead of me starting to have children and pausing their engineering careers,” Ms McCarthy said.

“I can see from the number of women working on our projects now that things are improving.”

Ms McCarthy has two kids of her own now and her career is anything but on pause. She is mentoring several young female cadets and graduates and said now was the perfect time to get into the industry, with so many big infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

“All the work we have underway now means there’s a growing need for investment in cadets and graduates,” she said.

“I really enjoy sharing my experience with them and explaining why things are done the way they’re done. I hope that they think I’m a good role model.”

She said working in engineering, especially on major infrastructure projects like the Metro Tunnel, could be incredibly rewarding.

“We have all these pieces of paper that show us how we’re going to do things, but to actually see the progress in person is really satisfying. It gives you this sense of being part of the work that’s come to fruition.”

The calibre of young women coming up the ranks today in the industry is very high, she said.

“They’re all very switched on. I’d probably be daunted if I had to compete against them as a fresh graduate. The world is their oyster when it comes to what they want to do with their degrees.”

To learn more about career development programs and job opportunities at the Metro Tunnel and other major projects, visit bigbuild.vic.gov.au/jobs

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