Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Female engineer lauded for conquering tough times

Published:Friday | February 2, 2018 | 12:13 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Jemelia Davis (left), president of the Rotary Club of St Andrew, presents Grace Ashley, club secretary, with the Vocational Service Award at their monthly meeting held at The Four Seasons Hotel, St Andrew on Tuesday.

Courageous persistence through very unpleasant circumstances and the many hurdles of discrimination she had to overcome to become a civil engineer for over 30 years, propelled the Rotary Club of St Andrew to honour Grace Ashley with the Vocational Service Award at the organisation's meeting on Tuesday.

Ashley said she was heartened by the much easier avenues that are being created for females to pursue their dreams in what is usually a male-dominated area.

"I often tell people that when I started we didn't have a female bathroom (at the university she attended) because it was a male dominated area. So whenever I wanted to use the bathroom I had to go to the administrative section. I didn't know it would be this challenging but I decided to fulfil my dream and I couldn't't give up. It was also difficult to get a job in my time. You study and eager to come back, only to find out that you can't get a job, that was hard," she told The Gleaner after the meeting at Four Season's Hotel in New Kingston.

"However, things have improved significantly and it is much easier for women to get in. Now people want them (engineers) as soon as they graduate."

The 63-year-old said she had no regrets and is pleased with her years of service.

"It was my love for the sciences, especially physics and math. In my time when you went to university, you would either become a doctor or something in the arts and I was not like that. I was more an outdoor person," Ashley said.

"You have to have a love for it and you have to be strong because you will be dealing with a lot of men. Then again, I did electrical, so that to some extent still presents some challenges, but mechanical and civil engineer are pretty easy to get in."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com