In 2019, only 13% of employees in the construction industry were women. Despite this, women have made remarkable progress in the workplace. Twenty years ago, if you were a woman working towards being a career as an engineer, carpenter, or electrician, you were most likely the only female in your class. But nowadays, despite the big gender difference, women in these roles can spot a few other women in classrooms and on job sites.
As women in male-dominated professions there are certain projects, tasks, and skills that can really advance your career – and sometimes we need to fight for them, even though it is 2021. Still, the unfortunate reality is that some people may doubt your skills and abilities because of your gender. So today, we’re highlighting a story of one bad-ass engineer who is carving her own path.
Dr. Bahar Reza, a Partner of ROV Consulting and CHBA-CO member, is used to working in a predominantly male environment as she was the only women in her graduating class. She was able to not only adjust to working in an environment dominated by men but pursued her dreams despite it. She was driven to become a female engineer and make a difference in the world through her work. Today, she is a leader in her field, advising on how to build some of the most energy efficient buildings in our region.
It was Bahar’s belief that every person should be able to live in a safe house that inspired her to pursue a career in residential construction. As she was working toward her Ph.D., she wished to have a positive impact on the way houses affect the planet. “I wanted to also make sure they are energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable since they will last for many, many years.”
Throughout her career, Dr. Reza has frequently invested in professional development to stand out as one of the best engineers in the region. Her advice to others is to always be on top of your game by constantly updating your knowledge and remaining professional. Regardless of your gender, job title or company, you are never too old to learn new software’s or technologies.
Bahar explained that she has earned her respect by thriving to make herself more skillful and successful every day through developing her knowledge and learning state-of-the-art technologies. Getting a Ph.D. in Structural and Building Energy Engineering was not the end of her education – she then went on to become a Certified Passive House Designer and Net Zero House Designer.
“It’s important to stay up to date and maximize your knowledge. For me, getting my Ph.D. was the maximum I could get for an engineering degree,” notes Bahar, “professional growth is about balancing experience, as well as keeping up with degrees and licenses and so on.”
In the residential construction industry, new building codes and energy efficient products are created every year, and it’s crucial for engineers, builders and tradespeople to stay informed. Staying on top of upcoming trends and regulations will make you the expert in the room. If you have a skill that someone else might not have, you need to capitalize on that.
“For example, with this energy efficiency stuff; I tried to be the first to learn it, to become an expert on it. To get all the licenses that are necessary.” Looking forward, Bahar noticed the building industry working towards attaining Net Zero homes by 2030 and choose to join the cause in working towards a greener residential industry. The gases emitted by homes did not really concern consumers ten years ago, but today it is of utmost importance. With the advancement of technology and codes, it is important for you to remain current as well.
Sometimes you may have to go the extra mile, to get extra education and grow your skills to only be viewed as their equal. Continue to develop your knowledge and keep up with the latest in technology to make you stronger as a woman and as a leader in your field.
If you’re going to stand out from the crowd, let it be because of your hard work – not your gender. Your track record of strong work ethic, satisfied clients and amazing projects speak for your reputation. Being able to provide the best services will make people want to work with you.
If you’re a woman considering a career in the trades or construction, please contact the Canadian Home Builders Association– Central Okanagan for more information.