Women in Engineering, Denise McClanahan, P.E.

Women in Engineering, Denise McClanahan, P.E.

Historically a male-dominated profession, women continue to make inroads, especially in the trenchless industry.

Originally published by and shared with permission from Trenchless Technology

Glass ceilings are being broken all over the place these days, whether at one of the highest offices in world, such Vice President of United States, or just in everyday life.

Our corner of the world involves engineering and construction. Both industries have historically been dominated and led by men. According to the Society of Women’s Engineer’s website, 13 percent of engineers are women. The times in these industries are changing as more and more women choose to pursue engineering careers, seeking their professional fortunes; many of these career paths are being forged and established in the trenchless industry with increased numbers ascending to key leadership roles.

Seeing women donning hard hats and on the jobsite is not such an unusual sight in 2021. That wasn’t always the case. We’ve all heard stories of “mansplaining” and stereotyped attitudes toward women in the construction world.

Thankfully, those attitudes have evolved and the professionalism of accepting women in roles historically filled by males continues evolve and grow.

June 23 marks International Women in Engineering Day. The day was created in 2017 by the Women’s Engineering Society in the United Kingdom after the launch of a national U.K. women in engineering day three years earlier drew enormous interest and celebration. International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) was born to enable the celebration of women in engineering to become global.

We spoke to five female engineers in the trenchless industry, learning how they came to call engineering home and gaining perspective on the attitudes noted above.

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They are not new to engineering, with their careers firmly established. They also spoke of the need for more female mentors in the engineering field, to inspire, push and encourage more females to pursue engineering as a career. They are all proud to assist and mentor the next generation of female engineers.

Here is one of their stories.

Denise McClanahan, P.E., knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career as an engineer, thanks to friend’s father opening her eyes to the profession and what it offered.

“I grew up in a family that strongly encouraged me to achieve and to reach higher,” she relates. “When I was in the seventh grade, I shadowed a friend’s father for the day. He was a civil engineer from Purdue, running construction projects. I loved the variety of his work and especially the team aspect. I was instantly hooked and decided that day to travel the path I remain on today.”

McClanahan graduated with a bachelor of science from Purdue University and today is vice president of Granite Inliner LLC — a 700-plus member, infrastructure renewal solutions provider with 17 offices scattered across the United States and Canada. Granite Inliner focuses on cured-in-place pipe (CIPP), as well as provides other solutions including construction management, manhole renewal, geopolymer solutions, CCTV and cleaning services.

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