Vicky Pyle, EDDC's engineering assistant
Vicky Pyle, EDDC's engineering assistant

Offering reassurance when someone’s child is sick, and recognising how important bringing up the next generation is, is one of the greatest gifts you can give mums in the workplace – says East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) engineering assistant Vicky Pyle.

To mark International Women's Day (March 8th), East Devon District Council (EDDC) are releasing features on women working in male-dominated industries to highlight the challenges they face and how everyone can promote equality and also raise awareness of how we can all offer support. 

About Vicky’s Job:

Vicky, who joined EDDC five years ago after being made redundant, is the only woman in her team of four people. She is responsible for carrying out condition inspections for nearly 300 sites, including EDDC’s public open spaces (parks & gardens), closed cemeteries, car parks and coastal defences (with the help of the engineers).

She said: “I love my job – EDDC is so supportive and so is my manager. I’m allowed to have a healthy work-life balance, which supports family life.

“My favourite part of the job is being outside and being able to chat to the public. I regularly get stopped and asked what I’m doing while stood in a middle of a park with an iPad.”

What is it like working in a male-dominated environment?

“Working in a male-dominated environment is my normal, so don’t know any different. I work with a very respectful team, it’s fun, we have a joke and get on really well.”

What challenges do you think women tend to face in the workplace?

“The biggest challenge I have ever faced was after having my daughter, who is now 10 years old. I was working for another company and was told I couldn’t work part time, after returning from maternity leave.

“It was really hard, trying to balance work and family life – not only did I have nine months off but practices and policies got updated – so I had to catch up but wasn’t helped. I then had to deal with the guilt of leaving my child in full time childcare and still turn up every day to give a 110%, coping with little or no sleep.

“Even now, there is a stigma with mothers working in general society – although I have never experienced this at EDDC.”

What advice would you give to people, to help support women in the workplace?

“Take time to recognise those parents (women and men) who come in, despite having little or no sleep and the importance of the next generation.

“I have such an understanding line manager with children of his own. I used to live in fear that my job would be at risk if my child was sick. But since working at EDDC, I’ve never been made to feel that. Taking the time to vocally offer that reassurance and appreciation of the challenges, and help with those insecurities, can be so important.”

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing your role?

“I have always been treated as an equal. Every engineer I have met is very respectful and welcoming to women in the field.

“I’d highly recommend the role and the industry. So much has been done to promote women in engineering. I think anyone could do my job, with the right training, which I did thanks to EDDC.

“EDDC offers so much support, letting people lead the life they want - flexible, family-friendly working, the Happy, Healthy, Here initiative, hybrid and remote working.

“I love that I can do the school run and work my timetable around family life and not have to worry.”