Engineering is a field still struggling to close the gender gap, with women still considered as inferior to men.
This has long been the case but some women do not mind this injustice and instead prove that engineering is not only a man’s world.
One of them is this female engineer from India who is not only breaking stereotypes but standing up for what she works for. She is one of a kind – as of posting, she is the first and only female tunnel engineer across the country.
Annie Sinha Roy is a graduate of mechanical engineering at Nagpur University. She worked for the first underground metro line in southern India, across the 4.8 km east-west underground of Namma Metro, between Cubbon Road and Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.
Before the project was completed, it was a struggle for Roy to fit in because she was a woman. And she never forgets her first day at work.
“She must be a visitor,” Roy heard as she entered the construction site.
Tunnel Engineer Annie Roy recalls that the workplace was surrounded by about 100 men, most of which are laborers and a few engineers. There were also no toilets, no place to sit and debris all around, she says. But perhaps the worst part is that her workmates thought that she would not last long.
“After a couple of hours, I was standing in front of a huge machine that had to break the ground but it was stuck. A German engineer and my boss asked me to get inside it and open a nut. Even before I realized what I was doing, my face was gushed by hydraulic oil.
The colleague said my face would glow for the rest of my life. Today tunnelling is my life,” shares Annie through the Times of India.
Since she started working for the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) in May 2015 as an assistant engineer, Roy operated a tunnel boring machine locally called as Godavari, which bore underground from Sampige Road to Majestic.
After the machine has done its purpose, she spends eight hours in the tunnel every day overseeing operations.
“Sometimes when people see me with the helmet and jacket and learn that I work for Namma Metro, they would only ask when the work will get over,” she says.
Prior to this highlight of her career, she got a job from Senbo, a contractor with Delhi Metro, and starting working for the company in October 2007. The original plan was to get a master’s degree first before working but the death of her father forced her to get a job and bail out her family from a financial crisis.
She joined Chennai Metro in 2009. And in 2014, she went to Doha for six months after a struggle with her visa.
“My visa application was rejected thrice by Qatar because they do now allow unmarried women to go and work there,” Roy laughs as she tells. “But the fourth time, I fought it out with them.”
With regards to women becoming engineers, she wants other women to do a job like hers, “I want women to drive a tunnel boring machine. I want them to work in the tunnel,” she says.