While diversity in the civil engineering industry has improved over the years, we still have a long way to go. According to Data USA, only 16% of civil engineers in the United States are women, and only 29% are non-white.
One of our core values at KFA is paying it forward to help pave the way for women and minorities to find a sense of belonging in our field. A great example of that is this week’s 2022 Engineers Banquet hosted by the Travis Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.
Our Founder and President Karen Friese participated in a panel discussion on what it’s like to be a woman in engineering. The panel was moderated by Sandy Guzman with the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) and also included the following local women leaders in engineering: Susan Fraser, PE (TxDOT), Kacey Paul, PE (City of Marble Falls), Marisabel Ramthun, PE (TxDOT), and Dr. Harovel Wheat, PE (UT Austin).
“Women are tenacious,” said Karen, when asked about what women bring to the table. “The women I’ve known who have succeeded in this industry have had a resilience and a perseverance that I admire.” Panelists also noted that women are good at remembering the human element in our projects, and at thinking outside the box to bring a fresh perspective to solve the problems we encounter as engineers.
For women who are looking to start their own engineering firm, she gave the following advice: “Find a mentor. Make sure you have a vision. Be sure to know what you do well and what you don’t do well – and surround yourself with people who will complement you.”
Our KFA team members had a great time hearing from panelists and award winners at the banquet. Several women engineering students from the University of Texas joined us as we listened to the experiences and insights of women engineers who have been trailblazers and leaders in Central Texas.