Each month a cross-section of prominent ASCE members shares insights on important industry topics in the ASCE News Civil Engineering Roundtable.
For ASCE News’ Women in Civil Engineering series, the roundtable will focus on issues affecting women in the profession. The initial panel finds reasons for optimism. Spoiler alert: the three ASCE presidential officers are inspiring a lot of hope.
What signs of progress give you the most hope for women in the profession?
Veronica O. Davis
P.E., M.ASCE, co-founder/principal planning manager, Nspiregreen, Washington, DC
“ASCE has had three women presidents back-to-back-to-back. It gives me hope that under their leadership we can push the conversation regarding retaining women in the profession. In addition, there has been a growth of women-owned civil engineering firms, where the leadership is mostly women. In general, I find many of these companies, such as the one I co-own, have more progressive policies that benefit all employees, such as flexible schedules, collaborative environments, and a focus on health and well-being. Hopefully, these companies will continue to grow and build legacies for generations to come.”
P.E., M.ASCE, senior project manager, Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, president, Civil Construction Solutions, Birmingham, AL
“I see many more women in classrooms and starting out in the engineering field the past few years. In the last three years I have met with at least a dozen female students interested in construction, and most all of them ended up following that path. Not only are women going into engineering, they are diving into the truly male-dominated field of construction. What gives me the most hope is that those women who have chosen the path love it!
“Even more important is the support men are giving by inviting us to join the team and appreciating the unique prospective we bring. I recently spoke to an Honors EGR 100 class, where there was a good mix of young men and women, and they were most struck by my story of being senior project manager for construction projects and often being overlooked while my male superintendents would be addressed as if they were in charge. I greatly appreciated their stepping up each time and setting the record straight. It is so good to see a class full of students that just do not see gender as those before them did.”
P.E., F.SEI, Pres.11.ASCE, president, Caldwell, Cook and Associates, Gainesville, FL
“ASCE’s president, president-elect, and past-president are women!”
Kim Parker Brown
P.E., F.ASCE, senior environmental engineer and program manager in the Environmental Restoration Division of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Headquarters, Washington, DC
“The most impactful sign is the number of women engineers who have been and are entering into the position of president of ASCE. Another indication of progress is the number of women who are in varying leadership positions throughout ASCE and in the civil engineering profession as a whole. More women are holding top positions in private industry as well as public agency organizations, and both women and men are seeing this more as the norm rather than the exception in our profession.”
Diane M. Linderman
P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE, managing director, VHB, Richmond, VA
“The dynamics and diversity in the room are changing, and that gives me a lot of hope. Women are in leadership roles in national industry organizations – the president-elect, president, and past-president of ASCE are all women, and the president-elect of APWA is a woman as well. Women entering the profession today have a ton of great role models. And the conversation around equality and empowerment in the industry has become an everyday discussion – awareness is one of the first steps in changing perceptions and bias.”
Lydia L. Marshall
A.M.ASCE, assistant engineer, City of San Diego
“Going to engineering events/conferences and not only seeing us there in increasing numbers, but as technical experts and lead presenters on complex engineering projects.”
P.E., F.ASCE, founding principal, Nitsch Engineering, Boston, MA
“The freshman class at my alma mater, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is 44-percent women. That percentage gives me great hope that more women are embracing STEM careers.”
EIT, A.M.ASCE, Engineer II, Atkins, Las Vegas
“A sign of progress is seeing all three ASCE president positions be occupied by women for the first time in the Society’s history. This is impactful as younger female engineers can be inspired to take on high leadership roles. Our profession needs to do our part to ensure they are included in these opportunities when they aspire to reach for their goals.”
Here’s a sign of hope for women in Civil Engineering: At Villanova University, almost 50% of our Civil & Environmental Engineering professors are female — more than in any other department!