Never be afraid to learn from others. Find a mentor – someone who can guide you, someone you respect and that shares similar values to your own. Amy Hoffarth
What made you interested into getting into your field?
I have always been creative – whether it was building with Lego to designing clothes for dolls to drawing buildings to building elaborate sandcastles with my cousin.
What do you love about your field?
I enjoy being challenged daily and problem solving. There is something satisfying about seeing a project start from nothing but a plan on paper to becoming a functional building, road, bridge, etc. at its completion.
What types of challenges have you faced as a woman and how have you overcome them?
When I started in this industry, I was barely twenty years old. I was right out of college, young, inexperienced and it probably showed. It was very difficult to get anyone to take me seriously. I was always working with men being the only female on jobsites and they only saw me as the little, young inspector. It took a few years to gain the confidence and a bit job experience I needed for people to take me seriously. The biggest thing is the attitude you possess in dealing with these types of situations and knowing how to approach people. I remember my first week working on a very large Joint Venture project. Each of the Field Engineers oversaw a specific scope of work as well as the material needed for that work. A situation arose where a foreman was taking material that was meant for one of the scopes, I was responsible for. The material needed to be ordered well in advance and it was expensive. I remember being reprimanded for having “too strong of a personality” when I approached the foreman regarding the situation. I have never forgot the way that comment made me feel. I remember being very confused and frustrated as I was just doing my job. As a woman, if you assert your confidence you’re considered to have “too strong of a personality” but if you sit back and don’t say anything, you’re considered weak, timid or lacking knowledge. This is a very tough balance and I believe it takes time and experience to learn that. Trust your gut and speak your mind but always think before you speak!
Is there any advice you would give to women entering the field?
Make your decisions with confidence and stick with your intuition. If you don’t know something – ask or research the topic in question. Ask questions, be inquisitive. Never be afraid to learn from others. Find a mentor – someone who can guide you, someone you respect and that shares similar values to your own.