National Women’s History Month: Women in Construction

Why is Structural Engineering Important for Renovations?

March is National Women’s History Month.  In the fall of 2011 I entered SAIT Polytechnic’s Civil Engineering Technology program.  In the program here in Calgary that fall, there was an intake of 4% females.  Imagine classrooms in the basement of SAIT’s Trades and Technology Complex with all men, mostly in blue jeans and neutral colored shirts, and then often only one female: me!  If you know me, you know how colorful my personality is, and, if you don’t know me yet I promise you we’ll have fun getting to know one another!  I love color, being fully alive, really getting to know our homeowners and coming up with incredibly creative solutions for their renovations.  Prior to hearing that 4% statistic I hadn’t thought about what it meant to be female in a male dominant industry.

When I entered SAIT’s civil engineering program here in Calgary, I remember my father James, and the founder of Mayfield Renovations Ltd. asking why I wasn’t taking training in design.  At the time I dismissed that by saying something like, “Designing is easy, structural engineering is what matters.”  What has become apparent since then is that I dismissed things that were easy for me, with the thought that if it were easy for me then it must just be easy for everyone.  I have since developed an incredible appreciation for excellent designers.  Mayfield Renovations Ltd.’s niche is residential renovations with structural changes, and we moved into specializing in this niche because of our team’s ability to analyze the existing structure and provide creative solutions to our homeowners’ wishes!

Being a part of a team that includes women and collaborates on our projects has huge advantages for our homeowners.  One important advantage is that you will feel heard and understood.  We love educating you on our industry and on the structure of your home.  It is incredibly complex to develop an in-depth understanding of structural engineering principles and calculations, however a basic understanding of the overview of how physics and loads affect the structure of your home can easily be understood by most people if explained in a simple manner.  We love drawing sketches of how the structure of your home is working, and how what you’d like to change about the structure will affect the original design of your home.  We love to educate our homeowners because we believe that by understanding the structure of your home you will be empowered to make the choices that are right for you.

Throughout history women have been game changers and have impacted our current way of life in so many incredible ways.  Here’s an interesting article that has a table of interesting women who shaped the history of construction!  The table has links to interesting articles about each woman, and listed last in the table is a woman from the early 1800’s, Tabitha Babbitt.  Tabitha was a Shaker woman who invented the first circular saw.  I know all of us in construction heartily thank her for that!  And you might also like to read about these twenty incredible female architects who have influenced the world of construction as we know it.

Throughout my time at SAIT, I really experienced what it was like to be a female in a male dominant industry, and I’m grateful for the men that helped me succeed in that program.  I’m clear that I am where I am today because of the incredible support of the men in my life, top of which is my father.  Collaborative teamwork for renovations really does make the final product better, and we are grateful to team up with our homeowners.