“I Don’t Hire Women Civil Engineers – Too Much Drama” 😦

“I Don’t Hire Women Civil Engineers – Too Much Drama” 😦

“I don’t hire women civil engineers – too much drama.”

I literally had a client tell me this three years ago.

He was in search of an experienced project manager with a background in commercial land development. I delivered a great candidate:

√ Registered PE
√ 10+ years of experience
√ Local candidate
√ Strong understanding of local codes and standard
√ Good communication skills


You know when the big red x pops up on the screen when a wrong answer is given on the Family Feud? That’s what it was like.

My client proceeded to inform me that he no longer hires female engineers because all they do is gossip and cause drama with other females in the office. He did not have time to deal with those headaches.

I made the choice to no longer do business with them.

Just last week I posted a comment on LinkedIn which has had over 4,000 views. I post a lot of shit on LinkedIn, but the post I made last week clearly struck a chord as it by far surpassed the total of my next highest viewed post. It brings to the surface that this may be an issue that people often turn a blind eye to, at least in the civil engineering profession.

You can view that post here and join the discussion: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6491380413536235520/

If you are not on LinkedIn, here is what I posted, and what has started a great conversation:

“I was just cruising around the website of a 150-200 person civil engineering firm…in the leadership section they listed 18 different professionals who were either Principals, or held the top leadership roles within the organization…guess what percentage of those were women?”

My thoughts are this:

I’m all about being “old school” on many things, but consciously choosing not to hire or advance an individual based upon their gender, ethnicity, etc is not just racist, discriminatory, and plain stupid, but it is limiting the growth of your company! Diversity is CRUCIAL to the long term success and sustainability of a civil engineering firm. Why you ask?

👉🏼 Different experiences and skills. Different people have different skills, experiences, attitudes, etc. Some of those skills or experiences may not apply, but a large percentage are positive and can bring value to an organization, and co-works are able to learn from each other.

👉🏼 Different perspective. Women and people of color are able to bring a perspective that white men have not experienced. These perspectives breed creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and solutions that may not otherwise be considered. This brings differentiation to your firm in an industry that is often viewed as a commodity.

👉🏼 Attracting more talent. With the rize of Gen X, Gen Z, and Millenials, no one wants to go work for a group of curmudgeonly old white man who are stuck in their ways. Today’s top talent in the civil engineering industry are ABSOLUTELY evaluating diversity in the workplace of those employers they may be considering a position for.

👉🏼 Long term success. Companies who have an inclusive environment and who hire QUALIFIED professionals, DESPITE their gender, race, religion, etc, thrive. Morale is high. Workplace camaraderie is evident. Financial performance is improved.

A recent study by McKinsey & Co found the following:

” In the original research, using 2014 diversity data, we found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. In our expanded 2017 data set this number rose to 21 percent and continued to be statistically significant. For ethnic and cultural diversity, the 2014 finding was a 35 percent likelihood of outperformance, comparable to the 2017 finding of a 33 percent likelihood of outperformance on EBIT margin; both were also statistically significant.”

A recent article from Onpoint Consulting states the following:

“Diverse teams can create a feeling of discomfort that actually contributes to better performance. Shaking up the status quo and incorporating new ideas from people with different experiences may be disruptive and uncomfortable, but it also makes new solutions possible. While people may feel more relaxed in an office filled with coworkers who look and think like them, they’re also less likely to be exposed to different ways of thinking that could push them to perform better.”

All this said, I am a 100% believer that promotions are to be earned, not given away. A company should not promote or hire a female or person of color merely for the sake of doing so. BUT, understanding the value that a diverse workforce can indeed bring to the table, and ACTIVELY keeping an open eye out for standout performers, and putting the proper leadership in place who does not discriminate is crucial, I BELIEVE, in building a successful and sustainable business.

  • Melinda Shannon
    Posted at 16:32h, 21 January Reply

    Thank you!

Post A Comment