Lerch Bates Hosts Women in Engineering Panel

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Lerch Bates recently hosted a panel featuring some of our amazing women engineers for International Women in Engineering Day, celebrated on June 23. Organized by the LB WIN+ employee resource group and moderated by Ameeta Hemmadi, Director of Operations, the panel featured Ellen Kauffman, Senior Project Manager; Hannah Kelley, Project Manager; Ale Palacios, Consultant and Stefanie Schober, Director of Operations. The panelists discussed a wide range of topics including what sparked their personal interest in engineering, how they hope to inspire young women to become engineers and their proudest achievements.

When speaking about how diverse backgrounds and experiences make Lerch Bates a stronger firm, Schober responded, “There’s always more than one way to tackle and solve problems, and we as a team are stronger by having numerous ways in which we approach our projects. Being able to collaborate and leverage each other’s expertise makes us more well-rounded and powerful as a team.”

One key takeaway from the session was how many opportunities an engineering degree opens up, some of which may not be known to someone early in their career. Kelley said, “My piece of advice to someone very fresh out of college is to not let your degree pigeonhole you. You have the whole world ahead of you and you can make of it whatever you want.”

“When I look at what types of engineering exists I swear the list just continues to grow,” Kauffman added. “You can add Engineering + Interest A and you can create a career out of that.”

The panel shared that a lot of stereotypes about a career in engineering are untrue, like that it is a quiet job, that engineers are always behind a computer or that it’s a male-centric job. “Anybody who has an affinity towards it, who has a skill set, who’s a problem solver – can do engineering. There are so many different applications. It’s increasingly multidisciplinary,” said Kauffman.

To get more women involved in engineering, all the panelists agreed it’s important to understand anyone can become an engineer – they simply have to know it’s an option for them. Kelley discussed the Dream Gap, sharing that girls are three times less likely to receive a science-based toy than boys.

“Early exposure is key,” said Palacios. “Exposure to the AEC world or any STEM field – [it] really makes a difference. It makes a phenomenal impact on their lives.”

Schober followed up, sharing her dad, brother, uncle, grandfather and two great uncles were all engineers.

“I am the first woman that is an engineer in a family of engineers,” she said. “A lot of that credit goes to my parents… I did get the Lego crane for my birthday and I built Lego houses for my Barbies. So you can combine all the toys and really just explore what you’re excited about.”


Click here to watch the full panel discussion from our amazing women engineers at Lerch Bates.

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