The 30 by 30 Champions Group, which consists of more than 40 members nationwide, works on strategy and action plans to improve the recruitment, retention, and professional development of women in engineering. They are a major force for change in the engineering profession, and an essential part of Engineers Canada’s goal to see the percentage of newly licensed engineers who are women climb to 30 percent by the year 2030.
This month, Kirsten Hogan, 30 by 30 Champion for Engineers Yukon, shared some of her experiences working on the program and her thoughts on what it will take to achieve 30 by 30.
What are some highlights from your 30 by 30 work would you like to share with us?
The work by the Engineers Yukon 30 by 30 committee focused first on building a community of local women in engineering so that we had the support and momentum to reach outside of the organization. This community has been a great success for us. As a small organization, we have the opportunity to support individual engineers and to provide the connections and mentorship they need to be successful and fulfilled in their careers.
Once our community was established, we worked with other organizations encouraging women and girls in STEM to add engineering to their events. We have also been working with the Engineers Yukon council to make sure that a gender lens is applied to all of the work that we do—ensuring that committees responsible for professional development, practice guidance, outreach, and others consider how they can improve their connection to women in engineering.
What do you see as the key barriers to achieving 30 by 30?
I think a key barrier is the shift in culture that is needed for women to become full participants in their workplaces. This shift is a difficult one because it requires all of us to move outside of our comfort zone a little bit, and to make choices in hiring, promotion, and leadership that may not be our first instinct. Many organizations that are supportive of the 30 by 30 initiative are trying to make this shift using policy mechanisms and incentives, but, in the end, it comes down to individual choice. To achieve 30 by 30 we all need to make the choice to be inclusive in our workplaces. This is a constant effort on the ground, every day. It is tiring but worth the effort because we know that when workplaces become more inclusive, everyone benefits.
What are the most important things you've learned as a 30 by 30 Champion that others would benefit from knowing?
I am consistently reminded in this role of the importance of personal connection. The ripple effects of connecting with individual women and empowering them to speak out for changes in their workplace, or to seek out leadership opportunities they may not have considered, can be far-reaching. I hope that all of us working on the 30 by 30 initiative remember that although sweeping change is a wonderful thing, small individual efforts may create more meaningful and lasting change.
What do you think it will take to achieve 30 by 30 nationwide?
I think it will take a collaborative effort between regulators, industry, and academia to make this happen. We have already made great strides in connecting these groups so that they can work together on the 30 by 30 initiative. There are many programs and policies in place and under development right now, and each initiative gets us a little bit closer. I don’t think that there is any single right answer to this question. I am hopeful that the work we are doing will erode the barriers that women face to being fully accepted in the workplace from all directions.