Living Histories: Women Trailblazers in the A/E/C Industry
By Maia Thompson, Strategic Communications Coordinator, Calibre Engineering
“All people are living histories.” - Penelope J. Corfield,
In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to take a moment to recognize women in the A/E/C industry who have paved the way for others—both past and present.
No matter where you look, women represent a very small portion of architecture, engineering, and construction professionals. While the statistics have slowly improved over time, women still don’t account for even a quarter of the workforce in A/E/C professions. This is why it is so crucial to recognize and lift up the legacy of women in the A/E/C industry, who work to pave paths for more women to follow.
Trailblazers in Architecture and Engineering
Read on to learn more about some of the women who have made an impact on Architecture and Engineering over the last 150 years.
Emily Warren Roebling (1843 – 1903)
The woman responsible for the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge
While Emily Warren Roebling was not officially an engineer, her husband, Washington A. Roebling, was a very successful one. Mr. Roebling had succeeded his father as chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, but later began to suffer from a debilitating illness in 1872. So, to ensure the bridge was built, Emily Warren Roebling stepped in. She took extensive notes, visited the construction site, handled negotiations and contracts, and served as the liaison to the board of trustees until the bridge was completed in 1883. Despite not being an engineer, to this day, Emily Warren Roebling is honored on the same plaque as the chief engineers of the bridge for her significant contributions.
Julia Morgan (1872 – 1957)
The first woman to attend the École des Beaux-Arts and to be licensed for Architecture in California
Before she became a renowned architect, Julia Morgan studied engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. However, Morgan had a passion for architecture, and in 1896, she traveled to Paris to go back to school for architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts. She became the first woman to be accepted in the École des Beaux-Arts in 1898, and when she returned to California, she became the first woman licensed for architecture in the state in 1904. Morgan eventually started an architectural office and designed 800 buildings over the course of her 40-year career.
Elise Eaves (1898 – 1983)
The first woman to become a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Elise Eaves was 22 years old when she became the first woman to receive a civil engineering degree from the University of Colorado in 1920. Only seven years later, she made history again as she became the first woman to be granted full membership in the ASCE. Eaves was committed not just to her own engineering career but to the careers of other women as well. As a result, she helped found the Society of Women Engineers.
Zaha Hadid (1950 – 2016)
The first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize
World-renowned for her imaginative designs, Zaha Hadid was responsible for the construction of many notable buildings throughout her life. In 2004, Zaha became the first woman ever to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize—which is one of the highest honors one can receive in architecture and is awarded to those that demonstrate exceptional commitment, innovation, and skill. Over the course of her lifetime, Hadid received numerous accolades for her unique work. Hadid’s buildings continue to inspire architects around the world.
At Calibre, we are amazed by the women who are forging their own paths and legacies in engineering. We sat down to speak with three of our engineers to learn more about their experiences, and the impact they hope to leave on the industry.
Jordan Dillard, PE
Jordan has a true passion for engineering and cannot see herself ever wanting to do anything else. As a civil engineer, she gets to be a problem solver for the infrastructure of our society. She appreciates that each day is a new puzzle, and she enjoys finding the solution, which can be different every time.
One of the projects Jordan is currently working on is the River Mile. The River Mile is a mixed-use project in Downtown Denver. Calibre is providing civil engineering and master programming for the projects. She considers this her favorite project because of the creativity it requires and the impact it will have on downtown Denver.
While working for Calibre, Jordan has worked on many projects. She is particularly proud of the corridor grading work she did for the restoration of the South Platte River. Each project is a testament to the value Jordan places on her work. She takes strides to grow professionally and is glad to have officially earned her PE license in October of 2022.
While Jordan continues to excel in her work, she wishes that there were more women engineers. She believes that women are vital in the engineering field and would one day love to manage a team of them.
Andrea Lowery, PE
As a civil engineer, Andrea prefers working on commercial land development projects. With seventeen years of experience in civil engineering, she has taken the time to develop her expertise in grading and utility infrastructure. Calibre has had the pleasure of seeing first-hand the value she brings to each project for the two and a half years that she’s worked with us.
At the core of engineering, there are problems and there are solutions. Andrea excels at finding smart design solutions, a skill she continues to hone as each new project brings a new problem-solving opportunity.
Andrea’s expertise comes not just from project experience but also from her commitment to her own professional development. She chose to go through the certification process for her PE license as soon as she was able in 2012 and continues to attend training to sharpen her skills. Andrea also values the professional development of others and has spent time training her colleagues on various engineering skills, including WaterCAD.
Andrea’s advice to other women beginning their careers in the A/E/C industry would be to find a mentor. She recommends finding someone that does what you think you want to do and shadowing them. The more you can do this, the better prepared you will be for your career.
Stephanie Caulk, EIT
Stephanie joined Calibre a little over a year after graduating from the Colorado School of Mines. Since becoming an engineer, she has found the people to be her biggest inspiration. Stephanie loves working with well-rounded professionals who care about creating projects that benefit everyone.
Stephanie takes the most pride in projects that allow her to use her creativity and take initiative. She enjoys her work for the Grand Canyon and collaborating with the National Parks Service. She appreciates the opportunity to use a wide range of skills in one project, including CAD, GIS, and coding, making the project an interesting synthesis of various tools.
Having recently joined the engineering field herself, Stephanie would advise any woman new to engineering to be patient with themselves and reach out to those that know things you want to learn. Stephanie reflects that she felt a little overwhelmed starting her job because she knew she had a lot to learn and was eager to gain new skills. However, in her career, she realized that knowledge comes with time, and most people are happy to help teach new tools or figure out problems. She found that people are friendly and it is ok to ask questions, especially when you are starting out.
We are inspired by our women engineers—both past and present. As each woman builds her own legacy, she helps pave the path for those who will come next. We can’t wait to see what’s next for women in A/E/C and the paths they will forge.
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Zippia Team. “What Percentage of Engineers Are Female?” Zippia, 8 Mar. 2021, https://www.zippia.com/answers/what-percentage-of-engineers-are-female/.
“Architect Demographics and Statistics : Number of Architects in the US.” Zippia, 9 Sept. 2022, https://www.zippia.com/architect-jobs/demographics/.
“Number of Women in Construction Edges Higher.” NAHB, 13 Sep. 2022, https://www.nahb.org/blog/2022/09/number-of-women-in-construction-edges-higher.
Bennett, Jessica. “Emily Warren Roebling, the Woman behind the Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Mar. 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/obituaries/overlooked-emily-warren-roebling.html
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. "Julia Morgan." Encyclopedia Britannica, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Julia-Morgan.
SWE Blog. “Women's History Month: Elsie Eaves.” All Together, Society of Women Engineers, 7 May 2021, https://alltogether.swe.org/2018/03/womens-history-month-elsie-eaves/.
Zukowsky, John. "Zaha Hadid". Encyclopedia Britannica, 18 Feb. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Zaha-Hadid.
Julia Morgan Image - By Boyé Studio, San Francisco - https://digital.lib.calpoly.edu/rekl-2071, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85460141
Zaha Hadid Image - By Dmitry Ternovoy - https://terranova.viewbook.com/album/portraits.html
Emily Roebling Image - Source: ASCE
Elise Eaves Image - Source: Walter P. Reuther Library