Fostering diversity in the construction field presents immense opportunities for progress and innovation. Here, women in the field share their views.
Pomerleau, a leading Canadian construction company, has made a commitment to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The builder has always been dedicated to creating a work environment that enables its employees to fulfill their potential and to ensure that all its teams and stakeholders feel represented. As the industry grows and transforms, the inclusion of DEI values within companies is imperative. Three employees from Pomerleau have delved into the discussion about the state of diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Read more about how they envision the future of STEM.
Sara Evely, B.Sc., B.Eng.
Assistant Project Manager, Pomerleau
From your perspective, what is the current state of diversity in STEM in our industry? What are the key challenges and opportunities?
Lately, there has been a lot of focus on creating equity and providing opportunities to women and visible minority groups. These initiatives are opening doors and driving the diversification we see within our industry. However, I think the true measure of our success will not be known for another generation. The women within the industry today are the trailblazers. For the first time, our youth are witnessing diversity in the workplace. They see people who look like them or don’t fit the stereotype in their head. The visibility of these role models and industry trailblazers, paired with initiatives within schools and workplaces to expose youth to our industry, will hopefully create a huge impact and usher in a permanent shift in our industry’s demographic.
In your opinion, how important is representation in STEM, especially for young individuals who are considering their career paths?
I’ve done some TEDx talks, and in them, I explored many of the underlying factors that lead to a lack of diversity in STEM. I believe that the largest contributor to this problem is self-concept. Science says that girls must see a reflection of themselves in their education and future careers if they are to pursue them. Historically, the engineering industry has not been inclusive, which makes it difficult for certain demographics to envision themselves in engineering roles. The work that’s being done to encourage women and visible minorities to pursue careers in STEM is creating role models for future generations, and is not only benefiting the industry today but impacting generations to come.
Alaleh Pouyan, M.Sc. Eng.
Regional Quality Manager, Pomerleau
How do you envision the future of diversity and inclusion in STEM? What changes would you like to see in the coming years?
I envision a future for STEM where diversity and inclusion are intrinsic values in the industry, not mere initiatives. This would mean a STEM landscape where people of all backgrounds, irrespective of gender, race, socioeconomic status, and other identifiers, have equal opportunities and representation. Collaboration between industry and educational institutions should grow stronger, fostering an early interest in STEM among underrepresented groups. Continuous training and awareness programs can ensure evolving understanding and practices related to diversity. Ultimately, the goal should be a STEM environment where everyone feels valued, included, and empowered to innovate, leading to richer perspectives and solutions in the field.
What advice would you offer to young individuals from underrepresented groups who are interested in pursuing STEM careers?
Believe in your potential and remember that your unique perspective is an asset to the field. Seek out mentors who can guide you and tap into networks and organizations tailored to support diverse individuals in STEM. Continuously invest in your skills and education, and don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself and others. Facing challenges is inevitable, but with perseverance, support, and resilience, you can navigate them successfully. Lastly, remember that you’re trailblazers and your journey inspires others.
Isabelle Paventi, B.Eng.
Vice President, Construction, Pomerleau
How does a lack of diversity in STEM impact innovation and progress?
Diversity in culture and gender brings different and innovative visions. When everyone is cut from the same cloth and thinks in the same way, it takes longer for innovation to take hold. When we have diversity in our work, it creates a new dynamic and synergy that encourages the emergence of new ideas that are beneficial to innovation. The more women and visible minorities are exposed to examples and role models in STEM, the more the vision of seeing themselves in STEM will become a reality.
Read more about Pomerleau’s DEI strategy here.