by Ingeborg Hegemann
My first memorable construction oversight job was for a wetland mitigation project where the contractor really did call me “honey” and I was inexperienced, worried, and nervous. But the wetland ended up doing fine and DEP told me, “You did it, this works!”
Since that time, I’ve been involved with innumerable and diverse construction projects. I’ve also had the fortune to work with amazing teams — both internal to BSC Group and external, including clients, resident engineers, and contractors.
One of my construction monitoring projects was for a roadway improvement project in western Massachusetts. The grades were steep, the slopes difficult to stabilize, and retaining walls were high. I was to meet the resident engineer to discuss an erosion issue.
I parked my car, after dropping my kids off early at day care to get to the job site, and walked up the road, past the vehicles and equipment, through the noise and the activity, and saw an eight-month pregnant woman standing near the point of concern. She was the resident engineer! I think we both started laughing when we realized both of us expected we would be meeting a man.
Looking to the future, BSC is working to develop a STEM workshop for youth ages 12 to 18 in order to inspire the next generation of problem solvers. The STEM sciences logically extend into the construction field. Reaching children, especially girls, early can help address the gender and socio-economic gap that exists in many STEM fields and have a tremendous impact on the way we plan our infrastructure and for the future.
My career has seen real change in the number of women in construction. BSC’s support of women in the industry is solid. I am now one of 27 women at BSC acting as environmental or engineering construction inspectors/monitors on highway, utility, commercial, and residential construction projects.
What’s more, the role of women at BSC Group is not just widespread across disciplines, but also deep in our management team. A full third of our employee owners are women who have assumed leadership positions in the firm; 25% of our principals are women. And last summer, I was honored to be elected chairman of the company’s board of directors, taking my career full circle from “honey” to “madame chairman.”
Ingeborg Hegemann, PWS BSC Group