Engineer’s Week raises public awareness of the importance of a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) education and encourages young people to pursue engineering careers. At H.R. Gray, we have taken this opportunity to ask our Director of Construction Operations, Kristen Braden, PE her thoughts about the importance of introducing girls to the engineering field.

Q1: Why do you think it is important for women to become engineers?

Engineering is a great profession with a great deal of opportunity and options. The entire concept behind engineering is to be a creative problem solver. New ideas and new approaches are essential to identifying new solutions. More diverse thought leads to more creativity and more innovation.

Q2: Have you seen more women entering the engineering field since you began your career? If so, why do you think that is the case?

Definitely! There are more women in engineering since I graduated from college. I think that engineering, in general, provides lots of opportunity and career paths. With all the technological advances over the past 10-20 years – computers, biotech, civil, aerospace, software, etc. – engineering isn’t a nerdy career path anymore. Also, the tech firms have definitely made a big difference in promoting benefits (i.e. maternity leave) that are important to women and promoting a work-life balance.

Q3: What have you learned from being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field?

Men communicate differently than women. In order to be successful, you need to recognize that and make sure that what you say and how you say it comes across in the way you intended. Also, it is important to find role models and mentors to help you develop and identify the next steps for your career.

Q4: What can a company do to support “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” day and encourage young women to become curious about the engineering field?

Encourage employees to participate in “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” day events. Show this is a priority in your organization. Also, show that there are successful women within your organization – young women need strong, female role models to aspire to. Remember Sally Ride? Growing up, she was a huge inspiration for me and other young women.

Check out last year’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering video below!