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PRI Spotlight: Profile of Jelica Garcia for Women in Engineering Day

By June 23, 2020September 16th, 2020Our Team

Today, we are celebrating Women in Engineering Day by profiling one of our female Geotechnical Project Managers, Jelica Garcia. We also wish to acknowledge that there is still a long way to go in achieving a truly diversified engineering industry.

Jelica Garcia

In the photo above, you can see Garcia performing an inspection of a racking foundation construction for a solar development in Ontario.

Garcia grew up in Dubai, U.A.E., and moved to Canada as an international student in 2011, where she attended Queens University in Kingston, ON. It was there that she completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geological and civil engineering. When asked why she originally chose engineering, she replied that she “wanted to solve more problems than create them,” and that engineering was a very hands-on way to make positive changes in the world.

Garcia is especially interested in the environmental applications of engineering and wants to address problems such as waste and pollution, two issues that are becoming increasingly important as society mitigates and adapts to climate change.

At the time she joined Queens, the engineering program was around 25% women. Garcia remarks that this number was high compared to the other major engineering schools in Canada, but was still disproportionately low compared to the overall number of female students. Despite this, as Garcia reflects, the number of women who are actively working in the field is far lower.

As of 2019, only 13% of the 296,000 members of the Canadian engineering society were women, despite women making up around 50% of the workforce. This statistic holds true for many disciplines in STEM (science, math, engineering, and technology), where women are not only underrepresented, but commonly underpaid.

Although belonging to an underrepresented group, Garcia only experienced discrimination as a woman when she first began looking for jobs in the field. She realized there was a significant gap in opportunities for women despite attaining the same level of education as a man.

The major concern Garcia faced from employers had nothing to do with her intellectual capacity, but that they believed she wasn’t strong enough to do the physical labor required of a geotechnical engineer. However, Jelica entered into engineering fully aware that it involved hard, physical work, and she has shown that she is as capable as any other junior engineer to get the job done.

After getting hired by PRI Engineering for both locations in Lindsay and Mississauga, Ontario, Garcia quickly proved herself an exemplary Geotechnical Project Manager both on the field and at a desk. Her work is prized by Arash Yazdani, the Director of Engineering, and she is known as a bright spot in the future of PRI. As part of a small team, Garcia is a valued member and a role model for any young woman interested in pursuing the engineering field.

Like many women in engineering, Garcia faced many challenges following her passion. Despite this, she persevered and is now exactly where she wants to be. If we can learn anything from her, it’s that the value you place on your work is worth far more than the value others place on you.