International Women in Engineering Day has been celebrated over the past nine years annually on June 23rd. This day is dedicated to recognizing the achievements, hard work, and perseverance of female engineers, as well as to encourage more young women to take up engineering careers. Engineering, as with other branches of STEM, is a historically male-dominated profession with women accounting for only 20% of engineers, and even less of those women being visible minorities.
Here at BGC we are committed to building an environment where women can thrive in engineering and the geosciences. Today we wanted highlight the stories and experiences of just a few of our many incredible female engineers as well as projects that BGC works on to help encourage young women to explore careers in engineering.
Renata W., M.Sc. P.Eng.
Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Renata is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Vancouver office who has worked in mining and civil projects and jobsites since the late 90’s.
“I got into engineering because I liked building things and because my parents encouraged my sisters and I to do anything we wanted; gender had no impact on what we were expected to do around the house, at school, or out in the world. Although there is still work to be done with respect to inclusion and equity, I do think there has been positive change and have seen workplaces evolve from surprise or confusion at having a woman on site or in camp to having women in senior engineering roles and in positions of authority. I think it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the women who have paved the way and who worked hard to prove women can contribute and succeed in the field of engineering. My advice to young women is to take advantage of this and know that you can pursue whatever interests you; you can define how high you want to go and what kind of a difference you will make. Building a successful career will take hard work, you will need to bring passion and knowledge and there will certainly be bumps along the way but as long as you stay confident in your abilities and your right to pursue your dreams you can choose to do anything you want.”
Lauren H., M.Sc., P.Eng.
Lauren has over 10 years of experience as a Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Vancouver office. She has worked on hazard and risk mitigation projects to support local governments, developers, mining, and pipeline clients across North America
“My interest in engineering and the environment started from a young age. I was fortunate to have great female and male role models in the industry throughout my childhood and schooling. What really drew me to the profession was the opportunity to work together in teams to understand and contribute to solving problems.
The women and men who inspire me most are those who are great friends, mentors, parents, and also deeply engaged in their work. The mentor who always has their door open for a chat; the technical expert who makes time to help the next generation learn new concepts; the young parent who shows that their child’s sports game is just as important to them as their report deadline. I truly believe we are all our best selves, and the best engineers, when we put people first.”
Beatrice C-P., B.A.Sc., EIT.
Geological Engineer In-Training
Beatrice is a Geological Engineer-in-Training based out of our Vancouver office who works on geohazard assessments and mitigation, and is currently researching shoreline erosion prediction on a hydroelectric reservoir at the University of British Columbia.
“I chose geological engineering at UBC because it was a field of engineering where I could combine my love of the natural world with science. Since beginning my career, I have discovered the exciting challenges that come with working with natural materials that are complex and different for every project. Although being a woman in a STEM field can sometimes be challenging and intimidating, I am heartened by the progress that has been made and is still being pushed for, and I am inspired by the other woman engineers and geoscientists I work with every day.”
Megan V., M.A.Sc., P.Eng.
Megan is a Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Ottawa office. She helps lead BGC’s remote sensing team, working with clients to understand the impact of geohazards on their assets, and with BGC’s software team to develop and incorporate remote sensing tools into BGC’s software projects.
“I chose a career in geotechnical engineering because of the opportunity to work on challenging projects in all parts of the world. It is a very exciting time in our industry, with new research and tools being developed at a rapid pace, and topics such as climate change and the global energy transition at the forefront of our work. In order to tackle some of the world’s most critical applied earth science challenges, we need creativity and a diverse set of skills and experiences within our teams – not only from females, but other groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in our industry. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some great female leaders at BGC and I hope to pass what I’ve learned from them onto those around me. “
Catherine Schmid, M.Sc., P.Eng.
Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Catherine is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Kamloops office who specializes in rock mechanics for the mining and transportation sectors.
“I chose this career because I have an aptitude for math and science, and love the outdoors. I knew I couldn’t spend my working life in a lab, and I was attracted to all of hands-on outdoor opportunities in geological engineering. International Women in Engineering Day is important to me because it is a time to reflect on the successes of the past, the present conditions, and the opportunities for improvement towards a more inclusive profession. I have been fortunate in my career and in my personal life to be surrounded by hard-working engineers of all genders who provided leadership and mentorship for success in this male-dominated profession. My proudest achievement was sitting on a teleconference with a client and our more senior project team planning for a second year of site investigations at a very remote project site. We had done a similar program the previous year, and I had been the field coordinator the year prior as well as the planned field coordinator for the coming season. We were brainstorming a key logistical component, and after about 10 minutes of discussion there was silence and then the camp manager asked whether I agreed. I said we had struggled last year with a similar setup, and that I felt real step-change was needed to avoid similar problems. His willingness to ask for my opinion, and the project team’s openness to listen and value my opinion, led to a significant change in operations and resulting improvements in efficiency that field season. To this day, I believe strongly that we need to open doors to all members of our teams to let them know that their opinions and contributions add value. I would advise any young woman interested in pursuing a career in engineering say ‘yes!’ to as many opportunities as possible, to lean on the advice and mentorship of family, friends, professors, and co-workers, and to find the people who build you up and take the high road against the ones who try to bring you down. This profession is full of smart, friendly, funny, and supportive people, who are looking for like-minded people to help them solve technically challenging projects. So while I chose this profession for the math, science, and outdoor opportunities, I stay because I love the people I work with and the people I work for. Come join us!”