International Women In Engineering Day - Glotman Simpson - Empowering Women

Addressing the Gender Gap in Engineering

While women make up more than half of the Canadian population, they only comprise 15% of the engineering profession. This number has risen from 13.5% over the past five years, yet the field still remains male-dominated. International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) seeks to address this imbalance by providing a platform for female engineers and encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering.

The 30×30 Initiative, through Engineers Canada, has the goal of having the percentage of newly licensed female engineers be 30% by 2030. Why 30%? The belief is that 30% is the tipping point for change in the field of engineering.

Inspiring Beginnings

Claire Dou is an Engineer on our Performance-Based Design team, conducting detailed analyses of structures during seismic events using specialized software. Her natural interest in math and physics, combined with encouragement from her engineer parents, led her to a career in structural engineering. Claire pursued a master’s in civil engineering, specializing in seismic design, driven by her passion for creating resilient and safe structures.

Heather Stefaniuk is a Project Engineer with our firm, she conducts structural design of gravity systems for buildings and is currently learning seismic design. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, as well as a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering. During her first year of university, she took a wide range of classes but found enjoyment in math, physics, and architecture the most and landed in civil engineering. Heather has always had a fascination with architecture, so she knew she wanted to focus on structural engineering.

Kelly MacMullen is an AutoCAD/BIM Technician and Principal Drafter. She manages the drafting component of our projects, builds structural models in Revit, and creates drawing sets. Her interest in engineering and structures began with documentaries and books in her youth, leading her to explore various fields before finding her passion in structural drafting. Starting as a junior drafter at Glotman Simpson, she advanced to Principal Drafter with the help of internal mentorship and additional training within the firm.

Nurturing the Next Generation

To support the next generation of women in engineering, we must create environments that encourage exploration in STEAM fields and provide opportunities for practical experience. Fostering the interest + curiosity children show in math and physics is the first step towards a career in engineering. Kelly suggests supportive environments and exposure to STEAM fields, while Claire emphasizes reinforcing strengths in math, science, and problem-solving. Activities like puzzles, strategy games, and logic problems can help develop critical thinking skills.

 Essential Skills for Technical Roles

In addition to technical talent and expertise, to succeed in the field of engineering, individuals also need:

  • Technical proficiency
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Visualization skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Time management
  • Leadership qualities
  • Ethics and professionalism

While the hard skills are incredibly important,  soft skills play a large factor in advancing a career in engineering. Communication, adaptability, and interpersonal skills are critical to working within groups and forming strong working relationships with colleagues and project teams.

Practical Experience and Continuous Learning

Engaging in hands-on experience is also a great way to complement theoretical education.

Aspiring student engineers should explore a range of initiatives to widen their knowledge. Such experiences could include internships and co-op opportunities, pursuing undergraduate research opportunities, joining relevant university teams, and participating in any extracurricular activities and/or competitions.

Additionally, exploring different and adjacent fields Is another way to build more robust learning. Heather did two co-op placements during university including a construction inspection job in Northern Manitoba in addition to an engineering design co-op, giving her more exposure.

Aspiring drafters can also benefit from internships and experimenting with BIM software. Kelly notes that there are many different fields and types of BIM technicians out there, so explore and find something that clicks with your overall interests.

Celebrating INWED

By celebrating INWED, we aim to inspire young women to pursue engineering, contribute to a more diverse and innovative industry, and continue advancing towards gender equity in the field. Hands-on experience and exposure to various opportunities are key to nurturing the next generation of women engineers.

While women are still outnumbered in this field, we’re collectively and consciously making positive change for a more gender diverse industry.