This Civil engineer is changing the game for women in STEM
Written by: Hannah Forsythe
Growing up is one of the hardest things that females have to go through. We’re constantly held to impossible standards, told that we can’t do any “manly” tasks, and over-sexualized everywhere we look. For young girls around the world, it’s hard to even find a strong female role model that we can look up to. That’s the sole reason why I’ve decided to start this series; I want to show girls across the globe that there are women out there living our dreams and kicking ass. For this week’s Strong Woman, we’ll be taking a peek into the life of Chloe- a civil engineer from Los Angeles.
Growing up, Chole knew a bit about the STEM world and what it was like. Her father was an engineer and she watched as he worked as hard as possible to achieve his dreams. Her mother taught her that she, “could do anything [she] wanted to as a female, that there was nothing that [she] didn’t have that the boys didn’t,” Growing up with that type of mindset and role model, it’s no wonder that Chole has been a woman to redefine the expectations of a woman.
What does a day in the life look like for this civil engineer, though? What does she do on a day-to-day basis (other than run a pretty awesome Instagram account)? “[Her] job consists of engineering planning, design, and construction management. So [her] routines change day to day depending on the project and the stage of that project. Sometimes [she is] in the office all day working on calcs and designs, and sometimes [she is] in the field at a power plant all day to make sure construction is going to plan. And other days it is a mixture of both,” In most features, a writer is supposed to keep their opinion out of it. But, honestly, I have to say that in my opinion, this lady is freaking superwoman for being able to juggle an engineering job, run two highly successful Instagram pages, and have a personal life.
When you look up what civil engineers do on google you get a basic response: “Civil engineers create, improve and protect the environment in which we live. They plan, design and oversee construction and maintenance of building structures and infrastructure, such as roads, railways, airports, bridges, harbors, dams, irrigation projects, power plants, and water and sewerage systems.” As a student looking for what they might want to major in during college, this is extremely vague and doesn’t let me know if this could be a good job for me. So I decided to ask Chole exactly that: what type of people does she recommend to the civil engineer path? She says, ”People who want to serve their communities and truly help people! Whenever I am explaining civil engineering to students I explain to them how much of a difference engineers make.
When you say you want a career that helps people, most people think doctor or nurse. And although those fields are absolutely amazing and they are heroes, they are saving the world one patient at a time! Engineers, on the other hand, can make a huge difference in entire communities with just one project! One project that gives a village clean water, one beige that takes children to school safely, one transmission line that brings reliable energy to an entire community. Anyone who wants to make a difference is who I would recommend my field to.”
Right now, Gen Z is the future. We are the ones who will be taking over eventually and becoming the engineers, doctors, and senators of the United States. But what will the future look like for women in STEM? It’s growing rapidly- which is proven by women like Chole. But I wanted to see what she wanted for the future of her field. What did she hope to see? Her answer was one that struck home to me and thousands of other girls, “I want to walk onto a construction site and not have to worry about someone saying something inappropriate or downgrading my abilities. Period.” And period is right! I think that chole speaks for us all in the sense that we- as women- are tired of being sexualized and not taken seriously.
The last question I asked Chole had an answer that I loved and will carry with me all throughout college and quite frankly for the rest of my life. I wanted to know, what was the advice she’d give for girls wanting to go into STEM? It’s not often we get to see such strong women in these fields. She told me to “ not let any stereotypes get in [our] way! We can be whoever we want and still be a badass in STEM.
I want to give a huge thanks to Chole for doing this interview for me. It inspired me greatly, as I hope it did to all of you out there. If you want, go follow her Instagrams: @choletheengineer and @simplysteminist. Keep being a strong and inspiring woman, Chole!