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Maser Consulting’s Alexis Eades Talks Women’s Equality and Female Empowerment!

By Alexis Eades

From the Beginning

Alexis Eades at the She Can Mural on Mott in NYC

In high school, when I took my first business class, I was told men were naturally better at business than women because women are too emotional. I knew it wasn’t true, and yet also knew many people shared that teacher’s opinion.

Despite the fact I was told this at age 16, in the year 2014, many people don’t believe women’s equality is still a relevant issue. As one of the only females sitting in that room full of snickering boys, being told what I couldn’t do before I’d even decided what I wanted to pursue, I very much felt unequal in the eyes of my peers.

The truth is women are not yet equal in most historically male-dominated fields. According to Quartz (2017), only 4.2 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women, and only 14 percent of engineers are women (Congressional Joint Economic Committee). If you Google “women in engineering,” you will find many articles about why work culture is driving women to leave engineering. The Society of Women Engineers reports there is a 30 percent difference in pay between male and female engineers with bachelor’s degrees, and a 20 percent difference in pay between those with doctorate degrees.

As I read more about women in business and engineering, I’m realizing the environment women are in has a lot to do with how successful they will be. I’m also realizing not every individual company is as bad as the national averages.

Maser Consulting’s Female Empowerment

Maser Consulting has a lot of successful female leaders, many of which have faced gender-related obstacles in the past. Geographic Discipline Leader of Electrical Engineering Jennifer Mayadas-Derring, PE, CEM said, “I have experienced in my career the typical stereotypical situations such as asking me to clean up after a lunch meeting and comments about my appearance. I had experiences where my technical comments were perceived as picky instead of constructive. Or contractors asked if there was someone of more ’authority’ on the team they could work with”.

As a young woman going into business, despite the teacher who told me I shouldn’t, I asked a few more women at Maser Consulting how they overcame the obstacles they faced.

Director of Land Services and Right of Way, Holly Cataldo, advised me to keep a positive outlook and to never give up, even on the hard days. She further stressed to me the importance of building a strong reputation built on your work ethic. She shared to gain respect, she had to consciously “find ways to improve processes, put in extra hours, and always worked as a team player” more than her male counterparts had to.

Teamwork is something both Elizabeth Bell and Maggy Fermo of the Marketing department brought up as well. “We have to support each other and lift each other up,” Bell said. As they discussed the importance of solidarity among women, they brought up the Maser Women’s Organization.

Maser Women’s Organization

The Maser Women’s Organization is something that impresses me. When I found out Maser created an official group with the purpose of empowering its female employees, I felt good about my choice to work here.  Michele Ouimet, co-founder of the Organization, explained it is composed of three chairs and three co-chairs selected by the firm’s Executive Committee. “They create opportunities for participation in any of our events, this way anyone can get involved at a level that works for them.” She goes on to say the Organization’s mission is to create an influential network of career-minded women.  “The focus of this organization is to educate, engage and empower the women of Maser Consulting by providing a support circle, fostering bonds and developing a stronger identity with the firm,” Ouimet said.

Created in February of 2017, the Organization has done some cool things in the past (such as organizing a donation drive for Oasis, a local charity) and has exciting things planned, including a life-balance panel discussion and a mock networking event. They even have a book club, currently kicking off its third book of the year: The Handmaid’s Tale.

I was excited to join the book club, something I didn’t think an engineering company would have. It not only is fun but facilitates bonding between female coworkers… something I’ve learned is important. Ouimet explained to me the Organization divides their program into three categories; Education, Community and Networking each with Program Chairs and Co-Chairs to help facilitate and coordinate their events.  I was glad to hear all three categories intentionally get attention, as all three are so important to empowerment. I’m excited to see what the Organization does next, as Ouimet said, workshops, volunteer opportunities, social events, classes, speaking opportunities, publishing opportunities and mentorship in our communities as well as our firm, would all be events revolving around one of their three categories.

Females at the Firm

At Maser Consulting, the consensus seems to be it is a female-friendly engineering firm. Females are not the minority in every department here, and we have many female leaders. The Marketing department is composed entirely of women, and Cataldo says, “Maser Consulting hired a female to run potentially the largest project in the history of the company…that is female empowerment at its best.”

Maser Consulting goes to show small steps can mean big leaps in progress. As a young female, I can say with certainty I am happy to be working at a company with so many strong women, and where I have resources such as the Maser Women’s Organization to help me succeed. Armed with the advice of my fellow Maser women, I can confidently say I am glad I chose to ignore that teacher in high school.

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