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#30in30 celebrates women engineers

Lindsey Cole
#30in30 celebrates women engineers

Marilyn Spink says the most enjoyable and interesting project she’s worked on was in Madagascar that cost US$7 billion in capital costs.

Emily Nichols’ favourite part of any job is that ‘aha!’ moment "when creative thinking and engineering principles come together and you suddenly know how to solve a problem."

Arianna McAllister’s hope for the next 25 years is that "we can shift our collective perception of engineering as a male-only field; women have a large impact in science and engineering, and young girls and young women should be able to envision themselves in these roles."

These statements are just a few examples of insights women are sharing as part of the #30in30 campaign. Women in engineering are put in the spotlight during March, which is National Engineering Month, through this forum that features stories of 30 women in 30 days.

"These women all proudly say #iEngineer for their own reasons and show the exciting opportunities for women with a degree in engineering," reads a statement on the campaign.

University of Ottawa Professor Catherine Mavriplis, who is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)/Pratt & Whitney Canada chair for Women in Science and Engineering, says this is the third year of #30in30.

"#30in30 is one of those initiatives to first of all make people aware that there are quite a few women in science and engineering who have very interesting jobs," she adds.

"Every day you uncover a new woman on the calendar, kind of like an advent calendar. People really took to it, so it’s been growing."

Each year #30in30 is gaining in momentum, Mavriplis explains, showcasing successful women who are "leaders, designers, researchers and entrepreneurs in engineering across Ontario."

"People appreciate the exposure. They really contribute to some huge, very important projects. It’s not just a minor role that they play," she says.

It is also a great networking tool for those who want more information, with those on Twitter and Facebook able to join in the conversation.

"You get a bit of a glimpse into what these peoples’ challenges are each day on the job," Mavriplis states.

"We try to keep a balance between different fields. Ultimately we want young people to see there’s all these different kinds of jobs."

This campaign supports Engineers Canada’s goal of ’30 by 30,’ which is a strategy that aims to have 30 per cent of licensed engineers being women by the year 2030.

"Thirty is sort of touted as a critical mass. Women aren’t anywhere near that 30 right now," Mavriplis explains.

"If you get three out of 10 people in a room to be women there’s a bit more of a critical mass that can support each other. They say that critical mass of 30 per cent would change things quite a bit."

She says women can add a different perspective to a team or a project, in a profession that has been largely male dominated.

"Our message is that women have exciting jobs in engineering that they find very challenging, and interesting and fulfilling and satisfying," she states.

"In high school a lot of people don’t really know what engineering’s about. Our goal is to present as many different women as possible so that they can see a bit of themselves maybe in some of these ladies and find their own path."

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