Engineers' first female president also pledges to promote diversity within the profession

The new president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has called for the sector to lead the way in tackling climate change.

At her inaugural address yesterday, Jean Venables said she would use her platform to highlight the importance of civil engineers in fighting global warming.

She said: “What we are building now is actually going to dictate what greenhouse gases are emitted from our buildings and infrastructure in the decades to come. We have got to engender the same sense of urgency and importance about climate change that the recent banking crisis has had.

“Engineers have the skills to deliver the solutions to climate change that the country and indeed the entire world needs. It's time to ensure they are placed right at the heart of infrastructure policy decision making, advising the government every step of the way.”

Venables, who is the first woman president in the UK body's 190-year history, said she will also use her tenure to promote diversity within engineering.

She added: “ICE currently has only 8% female membership across all grades, so clearly there is much to be done to get more women into civil engineering. However, the landscape is already changing with 20% of the student and graduate member grades being women.

“And it's not just about women. If we are to truly encourage diversity we must also look at the proportion of ethnic minorities and disabled workers and recruit from the whole pool to get the best talent.”