“Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of Women in Engineering” was the theme of this year’s Chix Dig It — Celebrating Women in Construction luncheon, which was timed to coincide with International Women in Engineering Day. GroundBreak Carolinas was proud to be media sponsor for the third annual Chix Dig It luncheon, which was held on June 21, 2018, at The Renaissance Raleigh-North Hills Hotel in Raleigh, N.C. This unique event drew nearly 200 attendees – a combination of women and men representing a wide variety of organizations with ties to the architecture, engineering and construction industry.
Chix Dig It host Patricia Lucas Smith noted that the objective of the event is to attract the best and brightest women to the architectural, design and construction field. “This year’s turnout surpassed all expectations. We built a foundation the first two years and now we have a loyal following. Proceeds from this year’s luncheon will provide educational assistance to young women who want to pursue a career in engineering. Chix Dig It is collaborating with the Society of Women Engineers (SEC) in the Triangle region to distribute the 2018 scholarships,” said Smith.
After 30 minutes of networking in the “Walk of Fame” corridor, the luncheon started with welcome remarks by the 2018 Chix Dig It luncheon Honorary Chairman, Jill Wells Heath, President and Chief Executive Officer of Raleigh-based CALYX Engineers + Consultants.
An event highlight was recognition of special guest, 88-year-old Mrs. Emily Brown Blount — the very first woman engineer licensed in the State of North Carolina. “Miss Emily” earned her degree from NC State University in transportation civil engineering over 60 years ago and was the first North Carolina woman registered as a Professional Engineer. She had a distinguished 40-year career at the NC DOT, most of it in traffic engineering. After a special presentation by current NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon, Miss Emily shared personal memories about her career and gave some advice to the next generation for whom she paved the way in a male-dominated field. The audience responded to Miss Emily’s speech with an enthusiastic standing ovation.
The program culminated with a panel discussion centered around the event theme, Hidden Figures – The Untold Stories, moderated by Master of Ceremonies Matt Smith, Executive Director of the Wake Tech Foundation. This session featured four successful local women, all Registered Professional Engineers, in various stages of their careers: Heather Denny, P.E., COO Wells Global; Anna Lynch, P.E., CEO of LynchMykins; Lynette Royster, P.E., Senior Project Manager, Bree & Associates; and Priscilla Tyree Williams, P.E., Construction Projects Administrator for the City of Raleigh.
The lively group of panelists was asked numerous questions by the moderator and the audience, such as:
- What experiences have helped you develop confidence in yourself and your leadership abilities?
- In the world of AEC and while obtaining your degrees, being a woman might have been perceived as a negative. How did you turn that into a positive?
- Have you ever had to validate your skills and strengths to either an employer or client or colleague? Please tell us a story.
- Do you need a business persona AND a personal persona?
- Tell us about a time you failed. But more importantly, tell us how you recovered from that failure.
- How would your employees describe you? Why do they want to work for you?
- Did you have any bad experiences that shaped you?
- What would you tell your younger self?
“From looking around the ballroom, and studying our survey results, attendees of all ages seemed to enjoy themselves, and learn something new, or think about something in a new way,” said Smith.
She concluded by saying, “I want to extend a big thank you to all of our event sponsors and participants for making the 2018 event a great success… and of course, I must thank Chix Dig It committee members Patrice Gilmore of Holt Brothers Construction and Candis Parker of Balfour Beatty for all of their input and hard work leading up to the event.”
To learn more about Chix Dig It, visit www.serving4success.org. For future sponsorship opportunities, or related information, please contact Patricia Lucas Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.669.1208.
Professional photos by Richard Barlow Photography.