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This is a “close” copy of the words that were spoken in this episode

It is not 100% accurate.
The guest was Yetunde Holloway, Chair of the Committee on Women in Engineering (WIE).

    Mel De Gioia 0:27

Welcome to Engineering Leaders’ mini series in the lead up to the very first World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development 2020. This mini series is being supported by the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. My name is Melanie and my co host and our podcast’s resident engineer is Dominic. Today’s episode is on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number five, about gender equality.

    Dom 0:51

Our guest talking to us about her work on the SDG is a civil engineer. She was recently made the chair of the Women and Engineering Committee Of The World Federation of Engineering and Organisations. She has held a variety of engineering roles within Nigeria and in the UK. Our guest also co founded a climate change initiative called Green Vantage. Our guest today is Yetunde Holloway.

    Mel De Gioia 1:17

Yetunde grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and was naturally good at maths and physics. As she was growing up so too was the city around her. Utanda would constantly marvel that she could pass an empty lot one day, and then six months later, something would be there. And she would look at it and wonder what’s going on.

    Guest 1:37

When I was growing up, the city was growing with me. And that’s basically how I decided to do civil engineering.

    Mel De Gioia 1:43

To experience that rapid growth in your own city and be curious about that I can completely see how you would want to be a part of that development.

    Dom 1:53

Now as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we’re talking about each of them and today, we’re talking about UNSDG number five. Now would you be able to run us through just exactly what that is?

    Guest 2:04

The SDG five is really about gender equality. And the targets include ending all forms of discrimination against females and women worldwide. The SDG goals basically wants to make the world a better place by 2030.


None of the goals – that of the 17 goals – are achievable without SDG five.

Women and females have to be respected, they have to be empowered.


    Dom 2:24

What was your inspiration for aligning your work to goal five?

    Guest 2:28

I can’t say there was an ‘aha’ moment when I thought ‘I will align my goals to SDG 5’. But my experiences in life, my experiences in the profession, as a female engineer in Nigeria, have shown me that women need to have a voice in engineering. We really need to speak up.


The growth of any human grouping depends on diversity and innovation.

From diversity, we get innovation, we get improvement.

And I also realised that I didn’t necessarily have a voice to speak up for me when I was younger.

And I thought now that I have a voice, let me use it to elevate others.


    Mel De Gioia 3:04

Did you have any personal experience of being left behind?

    Guest 3:09

I’ve had experiences of being left behind, being overlooked, gender pay differences and things like that. In fact, I was in a conversation with colleagues about two, three months ago, and they said, “we’ve given women enough.”

    Dom 3:24

There’s such a massive waste of talent if people are thinking like that, as well. So it is

    Guest 3:30


    Dom 3:31

so many wonderful engineers out there. And if they’re not being given the opportunity, then that’s sad that it’s actually like that.

    Guest 3:40

I agree. I couldn’t agree more. So I’m motivated by much better by much older engineers. So I’m motivated by them and their successes. Other women and my colleagues, we strengthen each other in the Association of Women Engineers of Nigeria. So that helps us a lot.

    Mel De Gioia 3:56

So within the engineering space, how are you as an engineer contributing to this very important Sustainable Development Goal?

    Guest 4:05

We have what we call the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria. I had served with them as an executive. And during that time I was able to contribute. And I still do contribute by giving talks by encouraging young professionals to be tenacious and to be focused and not to give up and then the emphasis is on women to ensure that they are empowered and encouraged to continue with engineering. I also have a group of friends, we call it Green Vantage, we are focusing on climate action. But then we are now looking at women within climate action so SDG 5 climate action, that’s two SDGs in one. You know I said that the other SDGs can not succeed without SDG 5, but we realised that women are affected more by climate action than men. And so we are trying to have groups of women and encouraging them to reuse things so that we can reduce the effects of climate change on the environment.

    Mel De Gioia 5:03

So you’re tying up your work at Green Vantage with you and SDG 13, which is climate action. And you’re tying that into number 5,

    Guest 5:15


    Mel De Gioia 5:16

Yes. And you bringing this all together. Yeah. And that’s the beauty of the those goals that’s being created is that they all work in so well together. So you’re focusing on a climate action initiative, but angled towards gender equality as well. So if you bring gender equality along, you will get climate action as well, so yeah, I like that. I like the balance that you say that you can’t have one without the other. As you said, I think you said, that you can’t have one without the other.

    Dom 5:48

Are you seeing a shift? Is it encouraging with numbers increasing?

    Guest 5:51

We haven’t been able to have formal indicators of what we have achieved so far. That’s the pity and it’s probably one of the things that I will be doing with the WFEO – establishing indicators and metrics, saying this is where we are, what have we achieved? So those are four things we’d be looking at doing.

    Mel De Gioia 6:12

Is that one of your goals for 2020 do you think?

    Guest 6:15

Yes, definitely it is. It is.

    Mel De Gioia 6:17

So we’re coming up to our first World Engineering Day. We’ve just passed the landmark starting a new decade 2020 here we come. Are there any goals on the horizon for this year that you hope to achieve?

    Guest 6:34

Well, I’ve raised some efforts. I think I haven’t made enough effort. So I want to make more efforts and have a global spread.

    Mel De Gioia 6:40

Global, yes,

    Guest 6:42

There is a need for us to for women engineers all over the world to collaborate and so that our voices are louder in their head in every corner of the world. So I’m hoping that through my position as chair of the Women in Engineering of WFEO, that I will work with amazing and brilliant people. And I already have a few of them on my team. I have Dawn. She’s a professor at a University. She’s brilliant. I have Annie-Anam. She’s from Ghana. Very brilliant as well. I’m hoping that I’ll be working with amazing and passionate people to increase that capacity for cross border collaborations, essentially leaving the world a better place than we found it. So my goals would include encouraging and empowering women all over the world to smash the metaphorical barriers that have been created. I don’t want women to hang around waiting to be given opportunities. Given, quote, unquote, to be given opportunities by men. They should take what is theirs. They should own their successes and be the best they can be in engineering and any … in STEM …. and any other thing they’re doing really.

    Mel De Gioia 7:45

Yeah, I can’t wait to see what comes out of the Women in Engineering group that’s underway here this year. It’s going to be a big year. We definitely will be watching out for that. And thank you so much for your time today. I’ve really enjoy it.

    Dom 7:57

Yes, thanks for joining us.

    Guest 7:58

Thank you very much.


Thank you for tuning into Engineering Leaders as we prepare you for the first World Engineering Day on Sustainable Development, which will be held every fourth of March. We hope you’re enjoying our mini series which is brought to you with the support of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. The best way to show your support for our show is to tell people, either in person or in a review. Just spread the word. Seriously, it is that easy. We look forward to you and your friends joining us next time when we bring you another episode with one of our engineering champions.

Transcribed by

Yetunde Holloway speaks to us about her work on SDG5 as a Civil engineer. She was recently made Chair for the Women in Engineering Committee within the World Federation of Engineering Organisations.

Over the years Yetunde has held a variety of engineering roles in Nigeria and the UK. She has also co-founded a climate change initiative called Green Vantage.