KAMLOOPS – Terry Underwood founded TRUE Consulting in 1986, designed around a practical, client-centric approach to municipal engineering. The company quickly grew, earning a loyal client base along the way.
Today, TRUE has approximately 65 employees across Kamloops, Williams Lake, Trail and Penticton. Of those, around 30 per cent are women, a greater number than the industry standard.
Amongst them are Partner and Professional Land Surveyor Marissa Moore and Municipal and Land Development Project Engineer Alyssa Schultz. Both understand the value women bring to the trades, together seeking an industry-wide environment where women can thrive.
Marissa, a graduate of BCIT in 2008 with a Bachelor of Technology, who currently oversees a variety of day-to-day operations at TRUE and established its Land Survey Division in 2017, believes women are vital to a healthy workplace ecosystem.
“Things have thankfully changed a lot since 2004, when I was one of four women in a class of seventy-five at BCIT. I believe women add a valuable dynamic to this industry. For instance, we’re often better at our “soft skills” and considered more approachable. No matter what, diversity leads to more creative discussion and problem solving. It’s really neat to see more women in trades today.”
With a growing number of companies actively recruiting women, offering maternity leave top-up and flexible transitions back to work afterward among other achievements, the industry deserves credit for evolving. Still, Alyssa believes more can be done.
“Women are statistically more likely to leave the industry earlier than men due to a number of factors. Many employers don’t realize they’re contributing to poor retention of their female staff. Regardless of their intention, people have biases they aren’t aware of. I would encourage employers in our industry to pursue sensitivity or unconscious bias training at all levels. There are great industry events by Women in Construction, Engineers & Geoscientists BC, etc. that provide opportunities for gender-balanced discussion on allyship, sexism, and retention of women in our profession, often at no cost. Employers who ensure their female staff have the resources needed to feel secure and be successful in their careers will see a huge positive impact.”
Concurs Marissa, “An employer that is supportive of the women in their industry can only benefit. At TRUE, I feel heard. There’s room for me to grow as a professional. They celebrate my achievements, support my decisions, and offer me great opportunities.”
TRUE is also pursuing meaningful avenues to see more women hired in construction, trades, and engineering, starting with students. It’s an endeavor in which Alyssa actively participates.
Starting at TRUE in 2018 as an EIT, Alyssa earned her professional designation in 2020. Now a Professional Engineer, she chairs TRUE’s Sustainability Committee, and is their champion for Engineers Canada 30-by-30 initiative, which seeks to increase newly licensed women engineers to 30 percent by 2030, the universally held tipping point for sustainable change.
“To achieve 30-by-30, we need to look at youth engagement in Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) to recruit girls at a young age. TRUE is sponsoring the EGBC Science Games for the third year in a row, a STEM initiative organized by Engineers and Geoscientists BC to teach kids about engineering and geoscience. I also work with teachers in SD73 to teach high school kids about Engineering and Geoscience and how to enter these programs in university. Because we serve small communities across the BC Interior, we are uniquely positioned to engage students who experience little post-secondary recruitment. We hope the girls in these communities work alongside us someday.”
With the likes of Marissa, Alyssa, and others working toward a more inclusive space in construction and engineering for women, 30-by-30 looks like a genuinely attainable goal.
Concludes Marissa, “I believe the future of trades is supportive in adding women to engineering, construction and land surveying. I really feel like the industry is heading in the right direction.”
It appears TRUE is dedicated to leading by example.