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International Women's Day: Megan Wood and Colleen JenkinsMarch 4, 2019

This year, McMaster Engineering is celebrating International Women's Day by honouring nine women who are supporting each other through mentoring relationships.

Megan Wood, an Electrical Engineering graduate student and Colleen Jenkins, a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student, share a passion for cars. Megan, a manager for the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR Challenge Engineering Manager, and Colleen, a propulsion team member for the EcoCAR Challenge, let us sit in on their conversation about women supporting women in STEM, the importance of women in leadership positions and no longer being the only female in the room.

Here's part of their conversation:

Megan Wood.

Colleen: What made you want to be a mentor?

Megan: When I joined the team in my first-year, I had someone who mentored me so I really wanted to give that back to someone else. When I joined, I was the only girl, so it's really important now that we have ladies in these lead roles that we continue this mentoring relationship. What's the most valuable thing about having a female mentor?

Colleen: It's more relatable, especially compared to in my past years having Mechanical male leads. I find you're more relatable on different levels than just technical.

Megan: My favourite aspect of our relationship is that we can come to each other and talk about things outside of the team. I know what it feels like to be the only girl in the room and I know you can relate to that.

Colleen: It also normalizes it. I remember in high school going into shop class and I really wanted to take auto, and my mom and my two friends were so confused about why I would even want to do that. Having girls already there normalizes it.

Megan: It's cool to see that you're not going to be the only one in the room. That's the best, when I walk in, and I'm like, "Yes. There's someone else in here who is doing the same things as me." I don't walk in the room and all heads turn. When did you first want to be an engineer?

Colleen Jenkins.

Colleen: I've always been interested in exploring. I've had a strong curiosity, so that kind of lead me to it. My dad's an engineer so that helped solidify knowing what an engineer was, so it was more familiar to me.

Megan: Science has also been your thing.

Colleen: I like applying science and my knowledge to things. What about you?

Megan: I think I figured it out sometime in Grade 12 but I knew I wanted to work on cars. Cars have been my thing for as long as I can remember. I took high school auto shop all the way through. Since I was five, I've been playing with cars and engines so it just seemed natural when applying for university. Engineering seemed like the natural path to take.

Colleen: Why is it important to encourage girls and women to pursue engineering?

Megan: If everyone in the room when you're pitching an idea and brainstorming has the same point of view, you're not going to get a great product. You need diverse viewpoints and people with different backgrounds. The more angles you can come at from a problem, the better your solution will be. By not including women in the conversation, you're cutting out half the population of the world. That's a lot of brainpower.

Colleen: And a lot of talent.