Charles Cochran, a Project Manager on the Traffic [...]
At Sain Associates, we’re fortunate to have several experienced and talented female engineers on our staff, but studies have found that many girls don’t even know what engineering is. There is a need for girls to see more role models advocating for the engineering profession.
While engineering can be a challenging career and one that isn’t a common path for females, we love that there is an Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day that aims to alter how we talk about engineering to help change the perceptions girls may have.
We were excited to get in on the conversation for the first time this year and invited girls from the Hewitt-Trussville High School Engineering Academy to join us at our office. We have four female engineers in our Birmingham office, and with additional input from Becky White, a transportation planner, and Tracy Pate, Director of Engineering for Jefferson County Roads and Transportation and the only female board member for the Hewitt-Trussville Engineering Academy, we put together an agenda tailored to these girls.
One of our main considerations in coming up with activities was thinking back to what we would have liked to learn that may have helped us in picking engineering as a career. We came up with “props,” such as reports, plans, large color roll plots, etc. to display as final work products. We prepared a presentation, gathered files to demonstrate our design software, led office tours, shared personal experiences from college and organized a catered lunch. Because engineers often collaborate and work on teams, we like the “two heads are better than one” concept. Therefore, we added a team building activity as well.
We also tried to think of little touches that would make the experience even richer for the students. We added a “What to Wear” element because in the field of engineering, our job responsibilities vary greatly and require a wide range of attire. While this may be a bit easier for men who choose from jeans, khakis or a coat and tie, it can be trickier for women. To share advice on this in a very tangible way, we all wore different outfits to show appropriate attire for specific job responsibilities, including a “what not to wear” demonstration. The goal was to show that even though attire may vary, we always want to portray ourselves as professional women.
Our hope is that the girls left with a little more insight into the fact that although women are a minority in the engineering field, we can be successful and highly satisfied with our careers. Sometimes being in the minority can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what to expect and you’re not surrounded by peers. We wanted to show them that there are women and programs out there to help mentor and assist them. We hope to see many of these young women go on to do great things in engineering!
To see more photos from the event, check out our Facebook album.