Today, on International Women’s Day, global, national, and local communities celebrate women around the world and rally for women’s equality in society. According to reports produced recently, women make up 16.4 percent of all Geotechnical Engineers currently employed in the United States. We believe that this annual day of both celebration and reflection is the perfect opportunity to introduce 4 of our dedicated female professionals from Earth Systems to share their insights on their achievements and challenges in their profession.
Rocio Carrillo, PE
Rocio Carrillo, PE, is a registered Civil Engineer with more than 10 years of geotechnical engineering experience on civil and environmental engineering projects including landfills, slope stabilization, seismic hazard analyses, subsurface investigations, groundwater monitoring, and laboratory testing.
We asked Rocio why she chose an engineering profession and what inspired her, and this is what she said:
“When I was in college, I attended an engineering seminar and that’s what sparked my interest. From that point on I started taking more interest on how to become an engineer. I started taking the required classes for the major and I really enjoyed them. I did an internship at a small engineering firm one summer and that’s when I really knew engineering was right for me.
My favorite thing about my job is that I enjoy the challenges that each new project brings. Every project is different and I’m constantly learning new things.
My greatest professional achievement was completing my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at UCLA. I had little financial support from my family and had to work while pursuing my Engineering degree. This taught me to prioritize my time, build great habits and stay focused on my goals.
The greatest challenges I have encountered as a woman in engineering are gender discrimination and work-life balance conflict.
My older sister has been a big influence and inspiration in my life. She was the first in our family to attend college and complete her Bachelor’s degree. She was also the one who convinced me to attend UCLA and has taught me to never give up on your goals and dreams.”
Renee Morales, PE, GE
Renee Morales, PE, GE is a Senior Engineer with over 10 years of experience in the geotechnical engineering field. She has performed geotechnical investigations for public works, commercial, and residential projects throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.
When asked about her career in geotechnical engineering, Renee shared with us her experiences as a senior engineer.
“My favorite thing about my work and geotechnical engineering is that there is always something new. Every project is different, and every project has its challenges.
My greatest achievement has been teaching remotely as an adjunct professor recently at San Jose State University. It was my first time teaching and it was demanding. I’m happy that I was able to inspire a few students to enter into the geotechnical engineering field.
My greatest challenges were early on. I got a good year and a half of observation and testing field experience and in the early days, the contractors didn’t take me seriously because of my age and maybe my gender. I think it made me a better engineer overall and just taught me how to manage and navigate the different personalities.
I’ve had many woman mentors that helped me early on and even now. I think mentorship is the most important part of anyone’s career but especially for women in STEM, it’s amazing when you can have that representation. I’d like to say thank you to Stephanie Villasenor, Dr. Laura Sullivan-Green, Laura Knutson, and Lauren Doyle. These women helped, influenced, and inspired me in so many different ways.”
Aileen Flynn, FE
Aileen Flynn, FE, is a Staff Engineer whose responsibilities encompass geotechnical engineering, materials testing, and construction inspection. She participates in field investigations for geotechnical engineering and geologic investigations as well as data analysis and report preparation. Ms. Flynn graduated from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.
Aileen, who has been with Earth Systems since 2021, reflected on her experience of entering the engineering workforce as a female.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have been interested in rocks and soil, and I also really loved learning about math and science. Geotechnical Engineering is where all those things seem to meet.”
“My greatest accomplishment so far is graduating from Cal Poly SLO Engineering with honors, getting my EIT certification, and starting my career at Earth Systems all within a span of 6 months.
My biggest challenge is accepting that I work in a field where, most of the time, I am the only woman on site, and despite this, finding a way to interact with and relate to the people I encounter and work with on construction sites or in the field.”
“My biggest inspiration is my mom, who has been a great example for me throughout my life. I grew up watching her work in a male-dominated field, and without knowing it, she showed me how to be a strong, independent woman and that I could pursue anything I wanted despite any difficulties or adversity.”
Deborah White is a Special Inspector with over 20 years of experience in the materials testing and special inspection field. She has a diverse background that includes roles of laboratory testing manager, branch manager, field technician, and special inspector. Her interest in becoming a special inspector started while working in her father’s Geotechnical firm in the soil lab.
When asked about her greatest achievements and challenges, Deborah commented on her professional growth.
“My greatest achievement is being a Branch Manager for two different firms and obtaining my ICC Commercial Building Inspector’s Certification. The greatest challenge as a woman in my field of work is the physical aspect. Some of the equipment is quite heavy.”
“My mother who worked at my father’s firm as well has influenced and inspired me the most.”
We are happy to have the opportunity to celebrate Aileen, Rocio, Renee, Deborah, and every other woman’s invaluable contributions here at Earth Systems.
For further information on job opportunities at Earth Systems, please see the listing here.