Tomorrow, Wednesday 8 March, is International Women’s Day. It’s an opportunity for the Environment Agency to highlight all the great work that women do, especially in reducing flooding to local communities.
Vicky Bowen and Maggie Byas are the only women in the East Hampshire field team, a team that is on-the-ground doing manual work. Vicky and Maggie both love their hands-on jobs and believe that, as women, they bring many additional skills and benefits to the team.
My job is mostly outside doing practical work. I help reduce flooding by clearing debris from rivers, removing fallen trees and maintaining mechanical structures.
Members of the public often come and talk to me about what I’m doing, especially other women. I think they find it easier to approach me than my male colleagues.
I’m proud to be a woman doing a physically-demanding job and making a difference to the environment.
Vicky and Maggie both made intentional career changes into these jobs within the last few years. They wanted to be outside doing something that benefits people and the environment. Previously, Maggie worked in a supermarket and Vicky for a taxi company.
I’ve already learnt so much doing this role. Now I can lay a new hedge, and confidently use a chainsaw. I’ve also brought additional skills to the team such as good communication and organisation.
I love being out and about, seeing the seasons change and working with nature. I would encourage more women to think about a role like this. It’s really rewarding and great fun at the same time.
Alongside their day jobs, Vicky and Maggie are doing water environment worker level 3 apprenticeship. This gives them new qualifications, training and skills including flood management and habitat management.
The Environment Agency encourage members of the public to report blocked rivers or damaged riverbanks by calling the incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.