June 23 is International Women in Engineering Day, and OSPE Member Emily Nichols, P.Eng., is using the occasion to highlight the benefits of re-engineering our everyday communication habits. Embracing gender-neutral language, she says, is one small step everyone can take toward a more inclusive and equitable profession.
In a TEDx talk delivered recently at McMaster University, Nichols demonstrated just how prevalent gendered language is in many workplaces and invited the audience to be a little more welcoming and inclusive in their everyday conversations.
Nichols worked hard to be considered “one of the guys” when she began her career in the manufacturing sector two decades ago. It was her way of fitting in and flying under the radar.
Now, she is sharing her life experiences in engineering, manufacturing, agriculture, and professional speaking to encourage audiences to challenge stereotypes around gender norms – and update their vocabulary to match.
“Changing our language can indeed change our world,” says Nichols. “My enthusiasm for less-gendered language reflects my desire for a less-gendered world. One where we aren’t held to feminine beauty standards every day, and don’t have to be ‘one of the guys’ to be seen, heard, and valued in the world of work.”
Nichols dreams of a future where we don’t need International Women in Engineering Day. “I never asked to be a ‘woman in engineering,’” she says. “I just wanted to be an engineer.”
“Most people think gender equality is too big for one person to solve. But one person can make a difference, with their words. Even Jeff Probst of the hit CBS reality show Survivor has dropped the word ‘guys.’ This is a change we can all make. It applies well beyond STEM and the trades.”
To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, OSPE will be sharing all-new content from Nichols about her experiences as a female engineer and her efforts to combat gender inequality in the workplace. Watch her TEDx talk below, and stay tuned to OSPE’s digital channels on June 23 to hear more.
About Emily Nichols
A professional engineer with decades of experience in manufacturing, Emily Nichols has a B.Sc. in Systems Engineering (University of Guelph) and a M.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (McMaster University). She works with organizations that want to equip their technical teams with human skills, so they can be better problem solvers, team players, and leaders. Learn more at emilynichols.com, and follow Emily on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.