During my tenure at AECOM, I’ve had the privilege of working with great colleagues who respect me simply as an engineer, not because I’m a woman engineer. When encouraged to get involved with the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), I was cautious, as I wanted to be recognized based on my accomplishments, not my gender.
As I came to know WTS, I found that WTS focuses on the advancement of women, celebrating the strength we bring to the industry, and that this is done with support from both women AND men, and the industry as a whole. I subsequently joined the board of directors and now serve as the vice president of the Greater Chicago Chapter.
I’m proud to say that the Illinois Transportation Secretary is a strong WTS advocate and our AECOM management also encourages employees who are members to attend local events, WTS-sponsored conferences and leadership training to further their professional development.
Some of the great benefits of WTS are the connections and community the organization provides. I’ve worked out of a client’s office for nearly 18 years and my exposure to a network outside of my small roadway group is limited. WTS provides a way to connect, not only with engineers in transportation, but also with urban planners and colleagues in other industries.
Those who join WTS find it extremely valuable for their careers and professional lives, and for building community within the transportation sector. To get an idea of who we are, these are some of my AECOM colleagues and members of WTS:
Being an active member of WTS has played an integral role in shaping me professionally. Fresh out of college, I was pretty overwhelmed in a field as expansive as civil engineering, let alone a male-dominated field. WTS gave me a support system and mentorship, as well as provided access to not only industry experts, but also women in various leadership roles throughout Chicago. Today, I’m glad to call many of these women my friends. It’s amazing to see what we can accomplish when we all come together as one.
I’ve worked for AECOM as a documentation engineer for roadway construction projects for 10 years. I joined WTS in 2017, primarily for the camaraderie of professional women in transportation. As an organization, WTS has the unique goal of connecting, sustaining and advancing the careers of women in order to strengthen our industry.
I currently serve as a Partnership Committee co-chair for the WTS Greater Chicago Chapter. I was interested in this role to maintain and hopefully increase the chapter’s partnerships with other organizations. These partnerships help our chapter provide informative programs, development seminars, networking events, mentoring programs and scholarship awards aimed at attracting, retaining and advancing women in our field. This year, we’ve succeeded in increasing our overall partnership commitments by roughly 20 percent and have established two new public agency partnerships. We certainly appreciate the continued support of all of our 2018 partners!
WTS is a little bit of a paradox: It’s a gendered organization (focused on women) that allows professionals to interact in the absence of gender expectations. An engineer is just that — an engineer. Not a female engineer, just an engineer. And the same thing goes for all of the planners, economists, financial experts, policy advisors and other transportation professionals who compose the organization.
In an industry where maleness is the norm, WTS provides an invaluable forum for women (and their male allies) to come together to network, build technical skills, support the next generation, and recognize outstanding talent and industry contributions — celebrating professionals who happen to be women.
If you’re interested in learning more and would like to become a member, visit: https://www.wtsinternational.org/members/membership-benefits
Pictured from left to right are members of WTS Greater Chicago Chapter: Irma Romiti-Johnson, Jenna Brose, Kim Jarosz and Bridget Malinowski.