What is your actual involvement in the tunneling business?
How have you been introduced to tunnel industry?
Prior to 2005, I was also involved in some smaller micro-tunneling and then during the early planning of the Lake Mead Intake No. 3 project, I expressed an interest to be involved. As the planning for the project advanced, the tunneling-by-TBM underneath Lake Mead became the preferred alternative. To manage such a challenging project, I became introduced quickly to the tunneling industry and have loved it ever since!
What do you think women can bring to this business?
Heavy civil construction in general has become wide open to women in all facets – engineering, planning, permitting, fieldwork, etc. Tunneling, specifically, remains sparsely tapped by women but nonetheless welcoming to women, from my experience. A woman brings a different perspective to an established industry with ideas and new approaches to bring about a cohesive and highly functioning project team. A woman can bring a fresh camaraderie to the crews and the entire project team.
Do you think that the presence of women changes a tunneling work environment? Did you have different experiences in different countries?
If a woman’s presence changes a tunneling work environment, I hope it is for the positive. Speaking personally – in my experience it has been positive! I have always been welcomed as a peer and leader both in the office and in the field. I had the opportunity to tour an underground project and work with various contractors and suppliers from overseas and the contractor/supplier and owner were very open and welcoming. The design-build contractor for a major component of the Lake Mead Intake No. 3 was Salini-Impregilo, based in Milan, Italy. They brought a great deal of Italian tunneling culture to our project, for which I am thankful.
Even if the number of women has been increasing over the years, the tunneling industry is still considered a male oriented environment. What can be done in your opinion to bring awareness of this business to a larger number of women?
To bring awareness of this business to more women, I enjoy speaking to professional groups, industry peers and students about the incredible opportunities that are available in heavy civil construction and tunneling specifically. We are a small group, women in tunneling, but a group that is welcoming and eager to spread the word about the rewarding careers and great opportunities to all interested!