Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

By Letha Ebelt, PHR, Vice President – Today is International Women in Engineering Day, which got me thinking about Morrison-Maierle and the fantastic female employee-owners I work with. It also made me recall the first Board of Directors meeting I attended in 2006.

The Board, up to that point, consisted of men. Now, in 2022, our Board Chair and two of our six members are women. It’s inspiring to see the growth and progress our company has made in this area. I am looking forward to attending our quarterly Board of Directors meeting next week in our Bend, Oregon, office.

Women in STEM

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women are nearly half of the workforce in this country, but only 27% are in STEM fields. While we’re following national averages from executive to entry-level employee-owners in several categories, those in the “senior professional category” have nearly doubled since 2013. One of our goals at Morrison-Maierle is to continue to find ways to have a more diverse workforce, and part of this is increasing the percentage of women. We’ll continue to pursue other avenues to continue to make progress through some of the following actions. 

Hybrid Work Schedules

After a career in management at another company, I came to Morrison-Maierle for many reasons; one of the biggest was the work-life balance and focus on the importance of our family life that Morrison-Maierle offers.

Before working here, many parenting responsibilities like taking our kids to school and picking them up fell to my husband because I was in a position that made it difficult to leave work. As a mom with two kids, I was missing out.

Our supervisors at Morrison-Maierle understand that our female and male employee-owners need balanced schedules. We recognize that everyone’s situation is different and make every effort to help you keep family responsibilities while meeting work requirements simultaneously. We believe you can build your career and care for your family at the same time.

Many of our employee-owners also have a hybrid work schedule that allows them to work partially from home or on a reduced schedule. We encourage our supervisors and employee-owners to work together to create plans that work best.

The Future

According to Tech Crunch’s article, “Why STEM’s Future Rests in the Hands of 12-Year-Old Girls,” the gaps between girls and boys in math and science grow over time. The article shows statistics from a study conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): “girls continued to lose ground after fourth grade and throughout high school on exams testing mathematical and science ability.”

Engineers and scientists are professional problem solvers. As a company, our mission is to create solutions (through engineering and service) that make our communities better places to live. This study shows us that there is plenty of work to do in our communities to help foster girls’ interest in engineering. And this is where Morrison-Maierle shines.

I’m excited to meet with several employee-owners to discuss how we can help introduce our younger generation of women to engineering, science, and math. And I know that next year, at this time when International Women in Engineering Day rolls around again, we’ll have news to share about what we’ve done as a company to make a difference.