Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is an annual event that celebrates women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) careers while inspiring young girls everywhere to pursue an education in the field. This year we’ve asked one of our Project Managers, Courtney McVay, P.E., about her experience in the field.
Q1: Why do you think it is important for women to become engineers?
I think it is important to have women engineers because women can provide a different perspective then men. Having diversity in a workplace is always a plus since we all come from different backgrounds and each have our own talents that we can contribute to the team. Men and women balance each other out, and when one’s strengths can offset the weakness of the other, (and vice versa) the result will often lead to success.
Q2: What do you wish a mentor would have told you when you first began your career in engineering?
I wish I would have known that it was going to take time to be a respected engineer, and that’s okay. In this field, with experience comes respect. When I started my career in engineering, I was a 20-year-old intern on a very large wastewater project with little to no previous construction experience. There was so much I didn’t know and some days were very overwhelming, however, I continued to show up every day and ask questions. My advice to someone just beginning their career would be to remain patient, learn as much as you can, and realize you are not alone in that everyone had to start somewhere.
Q3: What have you learned from being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field?
I have learned that it is important to find your voice and not take anything personally. There are a lot of big personalities on job sites, and it can easily lead to intimidation or self-doubt. I think this applies to anyone, however, in my experience I have noticed this seems to affect women more often than men. My advice would be to believe in yourself enough to speak up and share your knowledge to help contribute to not only the project, but your personal growth as well.
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?
I think it’s imperative that starting at a young age, women can picture themselves working in the engineering field. A majority of women grow up planning on one day having a family, which is often difficult to imagine while obtaining a degree and working in a highly respected profession such as engineering. However, being able to see other women achieve both their career goals and personal goals simultaneously, helps the younger generation realize it is possible.
Check out last year’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering video below!