Lakeside Interceptor | Duluth, MN

Women select engineering for the same reasons as men

Raine Gardner, PE | with 0 Comments

Women select engineering for the same reasons as men

This is a continuation in a series about women in engineering. The series was prompted by an op-ed published in the New York Times by Lina Nilsson, a female professor at the University of California – Berkeley. Nilsson, who has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, argued that women will be attracted to engineering if they believe the work benefits society and if the goals of engineering research and curriculums be more relevant to societal needs.
The female engineers in this series believe differently from Nilsson and wanted to share their perspective. Shannon Lybarger recently shared her viewpoints on how the profession can attract more women. Raine continues the series by reflecting on what attracted her to be an engineer and how she is contributing to future generations of engineers.
I got into engineering because I grew up in a family of problem solvers. My parents taught me that I could do anything boys could do, including becoming an engineer. In elementary school, I still remember trying to beat the smartest boy (who is now an aerospace engineer) in the class in our timed multiplication table tests. It was always a great day when I beat him.
As an engineer, I solve problems all day long. My passion is designing and constructing roads, utility systems, and other infrastructure. I work with clients and manage diverse teams to work out the logistics. Over the past few years, I’ve worked on many diverse projects in the Village of Lake Delton, with some including the complex reconstruction of Canyon Road, and the creation of Newport Park and Boat Launch. These projects have improved safety and provide additional recreational opportunities for this busy tourism area.
Anyone who states that the field of engineering needs to more relevant to society is incorrect. Every field of engineering already impacts society in all that we see, do, touch, use, etc. Educators and schools just need to just emphasize this reality, and not reword descriptions of programs, degrees, and classes to encourage more women to select this career.
So what do we need to do to get more females in engineering? First, they need to cultivate and nurture girls and young women who have the skills necessary to succeed in an engineering field, such as math, science, organization, and planning. Tactics could range from mentoring, summer programs, encouragement from female engineers to educators encouraging them to think about engineering, and offering girls more exposure to the different engineering fields.
Please don’t belittle women by thinking we can only work in jobs that fill our hearts and souls. Because then you would be overlooking the real reasons why we work in engineering, which is for the challenge of problem solving and to prove females can solve these same issues.
Raine Gardner, P.E. is a municipal engineer and leads our Parks and Recreation discipline. She has worked with municipal governments for the past nine years, completing stormwater, sanitary sewer and water main design, roadway reconstruction, lake dredging, streetscaping, and recreational park and boat launch planning and design projects. Contact Raine for more information on these types of engineering design projects.

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