“We all know the coursework in college is rigorous, but if you tough it out and study hard, it will be worth it. When you start applying what you learned in the real world, it is amazingly rewarding. You have to like to solve problems. You follow a code of ethics and design things for the betterment of humankind.”

On Thursday of Engineers Week, February 25th, there is a day specifically dedicated to encourage girls to pursue a career in engineering. This day has been named “Girl Day,” and is a worldwide campaign for thousands of people within the industry to act as role models for aspiring women engineers.

Further, this day helps to educate girls about the importance of engineers in society and how they too can help change the world. DiscoverE, in partnership with Concord Evaluation Group, conducted a comprehensive literature review called Despite the Odds: Young Women Who Persist in Engineering to uncover what factors motivate girls throughout their engineering education and career. The key findings uncovered that when girls were given the opportunity to perform meaningful engineering-related activities, with mentors, it is extremely effective; it helps to strengthen their confidence, interest, and understanding of the industry. The study also highlighted what factors most commonly contribute to young women staying in the engineering field, for a long career. It uncovered that those who had a strong support network, and felt like part of a community, were most likely to persist. Many of these factors apply to boys as well.

Ultimately, this emphasizes the importance of industry professionals acting as role models for both men and women who have interest in pursuing a STEM career—small gestures can make large impacts. As of 2018, studies show that only “14 percent of the civil engineering workforce is composed of women. About 40 percent of women who have engineering degrees never enter the workforce or drop out…Women represent over half of the U.S. population and bring unique perspectives to advancements in society” (Tourkaman). It’s surprising how low the numbers of women are, but encouraging to know that some guidance from others can make a huge difference.

A Story from One of Baseline’s Female Engineers
I have two math related degrees and I experienced the same thing in both. While taking the lower- level classes, the population was about 40% female and 60% male. However, when I neared completion of my degree the tables changed to 15% female and 85% male. Towards the end, I was one of the only girls who stuck it out. I suppose that either makes me crazy or really stubborn!” – Sarah Parsley, EIT, Project Engineer

Baseline’s civil engineering team was asked to reflect upon their experiences as engineers. Check out what they had to say this week in their responses below.

1. What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on and why?

An ongoing Obering, Wurth & Associates, now Baseline, project for the Olympic Training Center. Five new buildings, Visitor Center, Dome on the Velodrome, Master Utility Plan, Subdivision Plat, ALTA Survey – the works. Got to meet with a number of elite athletes including Rulon Gardner.” – Roland G. Obering, PE, PLS, Principal

One of my favorite past projects was the Grace Center for Athletics, which was a sports complex we designed for St Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs. I particularly enjoyed this project because my kids went to that school and utilized a great facility that I helped design. Also, my men’s soccer league played on the fields as well.” – Steve Baggs, PE, Project Engineer

My favorite project since I have been here is the Great Works Montessori School in Lakewood. I enjoyed working on this because it was my first school and it was quite challenging as it involved approval from multiple agencies. I also see it all the time as I frequent that area when I go see my mother-in-law.” – Lan Van, Staff Engineer

2. What do you wish you had known when you were first starting out in this career?

I wish just before I started out my career, I knew how much I was going to enjoy it. Knowing that I get to come into work every day and do something that I find rewarding and exciting, and get to see things I put on paper be put in place would have made those long nights in school doing homework all the more worth it.” – Sean Callahan, EIT, Staff Engineer

Every project, no matter the scale or complexity, is a stepping stone to being a better engineer. This includes projects that go perfectly as well as those that do not.” – Chris Manning, PE, Division Manager/Operations Partner

I wish I had known “patience” and “presence.” To be patient with professional development and to know that 10 to 20 years’ experience takes a long time. Respect, promotion, and advancement does not happen overnight, so be patient. But always be present. On every job inspection, in every meeting, or anytime that your mind starts to drift away, do not let it. A vast amount of knowledge can be gained in the smallest of details. You just need to be present in order to observe them. I am still learning these principles today; I just wish I had learned them sooner.” – Zach Henrichs, PE, Project Engineer