We recently spoke with Emma Talbott, Diversity and Outreach Coordinator for Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia, about the remarkable work being done across the province to increase the number of women licensing as engineers.
What highlights from your 30 by 30 work would you like to share with us?
Engineers and Geoscientists BC is active in the pursuit of 30 by 30. We created a 30 by 30 provincial champions group composed of industry, post-secondary, and regional champions who meet and have an online platform to discuss programs, initiatives, best practices, and challenges, with the purpose of collaborating and leveraging our collective knowledge. Additionally, in 2013 the Women in Engineering and Geoscience Task Force delivered 18 recommendations; to date 97 per cent have been actioned, with the remaining three per cent representing long-term goals. To drive this initiative forward, in November 2018, Council approved our new 30 by 30 Strategy, which we developed using member and interest group feedback, as well as supportive research; we are now actively working on the strategy.
What do you see as the key barriers to achieving 30 by 30?
We are finding barriers in four key areas: encouragement and the opportunity to explore engineering in elementary school, identifying and encouraging engineering at the high school level so that pre-requisites for post-secondary programs can be completed, retaining women in engineering education programs, and then retaining women in industry. We must be actively engaged in all areas in order to alter perceptions of engineering and support a life-long career. Role models and mentors are a large part of this.
What are the most important things you've learned as a 30 by 30 champion that others would benefit from knowing?
Engineering is everywhere. It involves an inquisitive mind and creative thinking and can be for anyone. We need to provide opportunities, and as regulators, industry professionals, and 30 by 30 Champions, we have the tools to do this and create change. We can help provide opportunities for parents and children to explore and understand what engineering can be. We can ensure women in industry have the tools to succeed, advance, and have a fulfilling career. To do this, we need collaboration through networks.
What do you think it will take to achieve 30 by 30 nationwide?
In order to reach 30 by 30, it will take the collective efforts of regulators, industry, and educational institutions, but we need to act now. Our current 2030 P.Eng. recipients are this year's grade 10s. This is the time when post-secondary entrance prerequisites are soon-to-be selected and attitudes towards subjects have already begun to form. We need to create awareness that engineering is a way of thinking, as well as a dynamic career where fields are constantly emerging.