International Women's Day 2022

To celebrate this International Women’s Day, we asked the women of McNamara Salvia some questions to spark conversation around the 2022 IWD theme, Break the Bias.

In our industry, we recognize the importance of creating a more gender equal workplace for the future that breaks the bias around women in engineering. Our female colleagues exemplify and demonstrate the importance of a diverse workforce. We’re proud to be a part of a global day that celebrates women’s success and achievements while recognizing there is still inequality to address. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

“One of the most memorable moments of being a female engineer has been walking into a room with over twenty male contractors and leading the meeting with the team having full confidence in my engineering abilities. “

— Ellen Swanson, Associate

In your opinion, why is it important that more women consider a career in engineering?

“I believe that representation and involvement of women in all fields is incredibly important. Engineering is a field that has been predominantly male dominated for so long, which has caused a lot of women who are not only passionate about engineering, but also incredibly smart and talented, to feel unsure and nervous about joining. Having more women consider this field and become engineers will help so many young women of the future feel more confident about their decision and be able to follow their dreams to be engineers.”

— Rebecca Hill, Project Engineer

“I believe it’s important for more women to consider engineering because diversity breeds innovation. I think the more people you have with different insights and values will ultimately lead to a more creative atmosphere.”

— Kara O’Neal, Design Engineer 

“We are sorely underrepresented, and there just isn’t a good reason for that. The more women migrate to the field, the more other women will see that they might be overlooking the potential for a fulfilling career.”

— Isabella Carter, Project Manager 

“I think it’s important for women to understand that engineering has a ton of possibilities and careers. Follow your passion and there is a high possibility that an engineer works in that line of work.”

— Estefania Lascano, Project Engineer

“I think it’s important to demonstrate that women can do just as much (or even more!) as men can. We are more than capable to succeed in a man’s world.”

— Rocio Paulino, Design Engineer

“I think it is important to show people especially younger girls that women are smart and can do the same things men can.” 

— Kaitlin Travers, Design Engineer

Why is it important for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

“If we don’t lift each other up, no one else will do it. While there are exceptions out there, we can’t wait around for men to give us our dues. We’ve come a long way in terms of rights and broken ceilings; but that’s all due to the women who came before us. We have a responsibility to continue the “fight” for even more betterment.”

— Isabella Carter, Project Manager 

“Women should support, encourage and educate each other to succeed in any career they choose. Seeing other women as competition is the worst trait someone could have. When one succeeds, we all succeed including future generations.”

— Estefania Lascano, Project Engineer 

“Women are constantly being told they are not enough, whether from friends, family, media, or romantic partners. That is why it is so important to take a second to support and be there for women, reminding them that they are more than enough.”

— Rebecca Hill, Project Engineer

What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women in your industry?

“I believe one of the biggest issues of today’s issues is “gender microagressions.” We no longer live in a world where women are told they “can’t do a man’s job.” However I feel that there are other more passive things women are told to make them feel not good enough and belittle them. Comments on “professionalism” is a large example. Women are judged more strictly on appearance and pressure is put on things like hair, makeup, wardrobe. All of these factors make no difference in our intelligence or how well we can do our job, yet they seem vital for women so much more than for men.”

— Rebecca Hill, Project Engineer

What is a piece of advice you think would be important to give a woman thinking of starting an engineering career?

“Follow your dreams and don’t get discouraged by others (Where you are the only female in class, or professors thinking you could follow an easier specialty, etc.). Find a network that will push you and encourage you to be you best self. Finally, make yourself heard! You are a member in any group setting and your point of view and ideas matter.”

— Estefania Lascano, Project Engineer 

“My advice would be to never second guess yourself. It is so easy to compare yourselves to others when you look around and there aren’t many people around that look like you. It is important to remember that even though there have not been many female engineers in the past, it does not mean that there should not be more going forward. You are just as talented, intelligent, and worthy as anyone else around you.”

— Rebecca Hill, Project Engineer

“A piece of advice I would give to a woman starting an engineering career is to be confident, but don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

— Kara O’Neal, Design Engineer

Why did you choose to become an engineer?

“I gravitated towards the math and science subjects in school (helped to have a math teacher for a mom), and appreciated the clear distinction between right and wrong at the core of the technical subjects. As I gain experience in the engineering field, I learn more about this thing called ‘engineering judgement’ and that often there’s more than one method to solve a problem. What I once shied away from is now seen as a bonus: engineers can be creative!”

— Kate Grosslein, Project Engineer

“I chose to become an engineer because ever since I was a little girl, my dad taught me that I could do everything I could set my heart and mind to. He always made me believe that no dream was unattainable!”

— Rocio Paulino, Design Engineer

“I chose engineering because I enjoyed the challenge, and I specifically went into structural engineering because I like the idea of seeing projects that I work on come to life and have an impact on my community.”

— Kara O’Neal, Design Engineer

“I attended two STEM camps in Middle School geared towards introducing girls to engineering which sparked my interest in becoming an engineer. Deciding on the structural engineering path occurred in High School while looking through an engineering college’s pamphlet about the different engineering careers and thinking designing buildings could be an amazing career to see finished designs around the city.”

— Ellen Swanson, Associate

“I’ve been in the industry in some capacity for almost 18 years. I was always fascinated with buildings, and how they went together. I started out in architecture, but then found I was far more interested in structures. This field is so incredible, in that we get to see the results of our work in real time. I don’t know how many people can do the same. If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is.”

— Isabella Carter, Project Manager