Building support for women in engineering

Go ahead, ask Anjum Mullick what percentage of practising engineers and geoscientists in Alberta are women. The answer—and the challenge—come quickly.

“Thirteen per cent,” she said. “We are a true minority.”

Mullick, the City  of Edmonton’s Director of Engineering Services,  was honoured by City Council on Tuesday, May 14, for her ongoing work to make that 13 per cent number grow.

“Anjum’s efforts are well aligned with the City’s Women’s Initiative, which aims to foster equality and opportunity for women in Edmonton,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “It’s inspiring to see such passionate and strong women as leaders in our organization.”

Mullick’s mission to highlight gender diversity in science, engineering and technology led her to become co-chair of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Science and Technology Conference, which took place in Edmonton last year.

“We had a very aspirational vision for this conference to be quite different from previous conferences in having a greater attendance, greater male attendance and greater diversity among women,” Mullick said.

With an eye to the next generation, the conference brought in students from Grades 1 to 9, offered spaces for Indigenous students, and featured a high school essay competition for female students who each won a day to the event.

Anjum and attendees at the Canadian Coalition of Women in Science and Technology Conference

Anjum and attendees at the Canadian Coalition of Women in Science and Technology Conference

“We were very pleased with the elevated conversation and the diversity in just the attendees,” said Mullick.

Her work won her the Women in Engineering and Geoscience Champion Summit Award from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists in Alberta (APEGA). The award, as well as Mullick’s advocacy work, were celebrated by City Council.

Sophie Kim reading her original poem to City Council

Sophie Kim reading her original poem to City Council

Also honoured at the City Council meeting was Sophie Kim, Edmonton’s Youth Poet Laureate, who read an original work, There Is A Roof. A student at Old Scona Academic High School, Kim authored a lovely moment in front of councillors when she told them she’s had a change of heart—and now wants to be an engineer.

The chamber cheered. Mullick, too.

Mullick works in the City’s Integrated Infrastructure Services department (the folks who build things), known for its commitment to increasing the number of women in its ranks.

“The commitment comes from the leadership and not just women in engineering, but increasing the number of women in our department,” said Mullick. “Since we are in charge of the capital infrastructure program, we tend to be engineering and technologist-heavy, which tend to have more men.”

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Adam Laughlin and Anjum Mullick

Adam Laughlin is the Deputy City Manager who leads the Integrated Infrastructure Department.

“Together with our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the branch has worked on fostering a workplace with gender equality and supporting initiatives that align with championing women’s professional success,” said Laughlin.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished so far and we are committed to using our accomplishments as the foundation to continue building a great workplace.”

Mullick said the commitment to gender diversity inclusion isn’t just “lip service.”

“It’s inspirational to work for an organization that places this level of importance on people feeling like they can bring their whole self to work and that their differing opinions or appearance, or whatever it may be, is valued,” Mullick said.

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