Woman engineer paves way to top at highways
A Bermudian civil engineer has paved her way to the top as head of the island’s highways section.
Tina Beer-Searle, one of only three women in the Department of Works and Engineering, has made her way to acting principal highways engineer in an area traditionally dominated by men.
Ms Beer-Searle, 54, said she had an “intolerance” towards gender discrimination in the workplace and that women had to nip sexism in the bud.
She added: “Be very direct — shut them down because if you don’t, it just keeps coming and then it could get worse.
“You just have to be on top of it right away and politely say what is not appropriate.”
She said that young women who had been discouraged from forging careers in science, technology, engineering and maths should “just keep going at it and dealing with the criticism from people who don’t think that women should be in engineering”.
However, she added that the representation of women in traditionally male jobs had been “getting better and better over the years”.
Ms Beer-Searle, who was born in Germany and spent much of her early life there, said that her parents had encouraged her engineering ambitions.
She graduated from the University of Arizona in the US with a degree in civil engineering, with a concentration on structural engineering, and has worked in the field for 30 years.
Ms Beer-Searle experienced gender discrimination at university. She said: “One of my first classes I had in college, my teacher said that he didn’t believe that women should be in engineering, so I just got up and left. There was no sense staying in his class.”
Ms Beer-Searle said: “When I graduated I worked for a land development company who would develop entire things from the bottom up — all the utilities for houses and roadways, the storm drains, just about everything. That was exciting because I had a very diverse group of projects.”
Now she is in charge of Bermuda’s infrastructure network.
She explained: “We take care of all the roads, the sidewalks, the potholes, the curbs, the bus shelters, the walls along the roadway edges, the vegetation along the roadway edges, and kind of clearing of the roadways, anything that might fall into the road that has to be removed, we take care of those items.”
Ms Beer-Searle added: “Nobody really pays attention to civil engineering, its just a necessity, not a luxury.
“Civil engineers are just doing the basic stuff to get society to work.”
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