A couple of weeks ago a young woman, Isis Anchalee, who is a platform engineer for a tech company in San Francisco, was featured in a recruiting advertisement for her company – OneLogin. Sadly, this ad received some negative and sexist commentary which was more or less based upon the premise that Ms. Anchelee didn't look like an engineer. But thankfully Isis didn't stay mute on this clearly sexist notion of what an engineer looked like and started a hashtag campaign on social media asking other women engineers to comment on what does a women engineer look like? Thus the #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement was born.
At Epstein we couldn't be more proud to lend our stamp of approval to Isis and women engineers like her throughout the world because our company is full of talented, driven, and successful women engineers. And we wanted to spotlight a few of these incredibly talented women here as well in our own version of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign. Our hope is that we can help in breaking down misconceptions and stereotypes about what a women engineer does and looks like and, most importantly, bury sexist notions about women in the AEC community!
Our first Epstein #ILookLikeAnEngineer is Becky Howe, PE, our senior design engineer within our civil engineering group. We asked each of our women engineers a few questions – why they became an engineer, if they had any women mentors and the biggest challenges to becoming a women engineer.
Becky Howe, PE
Why did you want to become an engineer?
I never even considered going into engineering until my sophomore year of college. It was my parents who encouraged me to major in civil engineering - knowing that I had always tested well in math and science. Once I got into my engineering courses, it clicked for me. At that point, I knew I wanted a career that I had to work hard for and could be proud of.
Did you have any women mentors?
My mom and dad were my mentors growing up. I was raised to believe that I could do anything if I was willing to work for it. It was never obvious to me growing up that I would end up in this kind of industry. School didn't come naturally for me, I had to work really hard to get good grades. My family provided a lot of support, and always reminded me that I was good enough.
What are the toughest obstacles to overcome being a woman engineer?
Most of the obstacles for me have been mental. I let other people get in my head. Whether it was a professor who rolled his eyes at me for wearing my sorority shirt to the first day of class; or the first time I attended a project meeting and someone assumed I was a secretary taking notes. Everyone at some point in their life is treated unfairly. The toughest part is ignoring that kind of negativity and ignorance, and finding a way to laugh it off.