Women In Tunneling features an exemplary female member of the tunneling industry each month in order to highlight the significance of having diversity in the underground field. For February 2020, we are proud to introduce Bade Sozer, Senior Associate at McMillen Jacobs Associates! Read our interview with Sozer below where she discusses her involvement in the industry, how she got started, and what we can do to attract more women to pursue careers in the tunneling and underground construction industry.
- What is your actual involvement in the tunneling business?
I am a Senior Associate at McMillen Jacobs Associates. I recently performed as the design manager on a multi-disciplinary hard rock pressure tunnel project and a tunnel rehabilitation project. I am now involved with design services during construction. Throughout my career I’ve had various responsibilities from design engineer to FLAC (Fast Lagrangian Analysis of Continua) modeler and more recently as design lead. I am also the Water Market Lead for the East Coast in the Underground Division.
- How were you introduced to the tunnel industry?
Through wine caves! I was in California at the time and McMillen Jacobs Associates was looking for a new engineer to help with wine cave design. I was immediately interested! That was about 15 years ago.
- What do you believe women can bring to the tunneling business?
Qualified women can bring as much as qualified men can. Every individual is unique with different strengths but I think women are generally great at multitasking and communicating and have more empathy –all of which are valuable for team success.
- Do you think the presence of women changes a tunneling work environment? Did you have different experiences in different countries?
I think the presence of women brings more social awareness and diversity. With more diversity comes a wider perspective and more opportunities for creativity. I grew up in a different country where I was taught that I can do anything men can do and I was encouraged, mostly by dad, to be an engineer.
- Even though the number of women has been increasing over the years, the tunneling industry is still considered a male oriented environment. What can be done, in your opinion, to bring awareness of this business to a larger number of women?
We have to start bringing awareness from young age by showing up as women in tunneling at middle/high school career days and getting the young kids excited/interested about our industry. It is hard not to be excited about the projects that we get to work on! Career fairs are also great but we, as women, must participate at career fairs because, I think, the young females will be attracted to tunneling when they see women role models/leaders that they can relate to. We also have to get our daughters/nieces to play with trucks!Thank you, Bade, for sharing your insightful thoughts with the UCA of SME Women In Tunneling community. We are grateful to have you as a member, and proud to have you representing Women In Tunneling.