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Megan Rosica, PE, provides insight into her motivation to work in transportation and what empowers her as a woman in the industry.
My journey into the transportation industry was not a clear path, it was more of a winding road with lots of twists and turns (pun intended). All of the choices I made and opportunities I was given led me to where I am, and I am grateful for that. Now that I’m here I feel it is my purpose to leverage this role as a female in the industry and advocate for equity because I see the disparities, I acknowledge my privilege, and I am motivated by the fact that I can play a part in making a difference.
I went to a small, all-girls high school so you can imagine the shock when I graduated and went to a large university to study civil engineering, a male-dominated major. There were many times where I would be the only woman in the class or in a group. But this actually empowered me, and it motivated me to do well. Like those Mia Hamm / Michael Jordan commercials from the 90’s, I wanted to prove that “anything you can do I can do better.” I have an incredible role model in my mother who would sing along with me to that commercial and constantly tell me I could do anything I put my mind to. I harnessed that throughout college and into my career.
I only recently learned that less than 15% of the transportation industry is made up of women. That’s out of 14.8 million people in the transportation workforce, and even fewer hold decision-making roles. I like to think these statistics are improving but learning this made me even more motivated to grow these numbers. I’m proud to say that our Jacobs Mid-Atlantic Advanced Mobility group is made up of approximately 40% women, and we continue to grow those numbers by making inclusion and diversity a top priority.
Diversifying our workforce is key to broadening perspectives and challenging standards so we can leverage a variety of viewpoints for better decision making and to create opportunity. Historically, the infrastructure we use everyday has been designed the same way since the dawn of industry, and there are biases built in that we often adjust to and ignore. I am not just motivated by gender disparities, but by the issues that impact all groups who don’t feel that their voice is heard. In addition to women, people with disabilities, people in low socio-economic geographies, and people of color have struggled with the design biases that have been put in place for too long. Just because something has been the same forever does not mean it’s right, and we CAN change it.
I’m motivated by the potential I see – the innovations, tools, and conversations sparked by acknowledging inequities. In this new era of technology and innovation we are seeing tools that will transform mobility. By recognizing this potential, we can get involved and advocate to help undeserved communities who need it. This is why I enjoy being involved in ITSPA and focusing on community within ITS and advanced technologies. I want to represent young women and show them that getting involved in organizations at the forefront of these technologies is a great step to having our voices be heard and diversifying the team.
I go back to my high school to speak to the girls often about my career and life after graduation. I want to remind them of the same thing my mom (and Mia Hamm) taught me – we can do anything. It’s a broader vision that motivates me – I want to promote diversity in the workforce and use the position we are in as designers and engineers to make the world a more equitable place, starting with transportation.