Voices: A Spotlight on the Women of Normandeau Associates, Inc.

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Artwork by Maureen Madray of Marine Madray Designs—featuring the Eclectus Parrot and a quote from Maya Angelou

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we wanted to take a moment to showcase the voices of our female staff members. Normandeau is fortunate enough to employ some incredible science, tech, and engineering professionals—both seasoned and relatively new to the field of environmental consulting. Although the industry has come a long way in regard to equitable gender representation, there is still work to be done. We asked the women at Normandeau what advice they would give to young women considering a career in STEM and/or the environmental industry. Their responses follow:
 

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Pam Hall, Former Long-Time President & CEO, and Board Chair
50 years at Normandeau

“I would say go for it! It’s a very interesting and rewarding career if you are a person focused on societal goals such as improving quality of life on this planet…. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. If you are always afraid to take on new challenges, you’ll never meet your true potential.”

 

Brenda Bhatti, Sr. Proposal Coordinator
5 years at Normandeau (20+ years as an Environmental/Land Use Consultant, Ecologist, and Wildlife Biologist)

“The environmental industry has a multitude of facets and opportunities to engage women of diverse interests. I received my BS in Zoology/Wildlife Biology (minor in Spanish) and seven years later started toward my MS in Environmental Studies (wetlands, forestry, ornithology, bat biology, hydrology, geology, etc.). It took me three years starting off on a part-time basis, but it was well worth the effort. Even if you start down one path, you can switch it up as you go along. My career has evolved tremendously from biological labs, reptile caretaker, zookeeper, and wildlife control to transitioning into land conservation, natural resources, and environmental consulting. Start with your current interest and don’t be afraid to take some courses or start in a position that may not seem relevant at the time. Even if you start or continue growing a family, always stay involved in some way moving your career ahead through memberships, volunteer, or related activities so you don’t get off track. Each experience will feed into the next and before you know it, you’ll have 'value-added' skillsets that will make you an even greater asset!”

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Connie Booz, Technical Support
40 years at Normandeau

“Being in IT beats counting bugs any day! That’s where I started with Normandeau. In over 40 years, I’ve done a lot of environmental work, some of which was data entry related. Then I started programming macros for some of our spreadsheets. Since then, I’ve moved into the IT department and now I work on all kinds of challenging user issues. Every day is different.”

Jessica Buckingham, Marine Biologist/Aquatic Taxonomist
6.5 years at Normandeau

“Don’t be afraid to do what you love. If your passion is in STEM, then follow it. There is almost nothing more satisfying than accomplishing goals in a career you are excited to be in. And being passionate about your work will lead you to excel in it.”

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Lee Carbonneau, Senior Principal Scientist (Wetlands and Wildlife)
32 years at Normandeau

“I don’t think anyone enters the environmental field unless they are passionate about the environment, so this work is both personally gratifying and increasingly important. The variety of educational programs and career opportunities has expanded immensely over the decades. Follow your passion; be aware of regulations, policies, and trends; and expand and hone your technical/field skills. The planet needs you!”

Sammy Cyr, Project Administrator
9 years at Normandeau

“It is rewarding each day to work in the environmental industry. As one of the least diverse scientific fields, I am proud to be able to contribute my voice as a woman to encourage positive change in this constantly evolving industry. My advice to young women interested in the field would be to stay engaged, be willing to constantly learn and adapt within your desired field to reach your career goals, and invest time in building strong, supportive relationships.”

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Suzanne Folsom, IT Manager
10 years at Normandeau

“I would encourage all young women to have some experience with IT as it’s an integral part of almost every other job. IT offers a huge variety of good paying jobs from entry level tech support to programming, security, and management. It’s an easy field to advance in, often with flexible work from home options to meet family needs. And in today’s job market, women are a sought-after commodity because we multitask well, are good problem solvers, and generally have good interpersonal skills.” 

 

Karen Gilland, Principal Scientist/Engineer
8 years at Normandeau

“I love STEM because I get to create and build. Working in and understanding various STEM industries is a little bit like traveling the world: You get exposed to things you never knew existed before and it’s endlessly interesting. The environmental industry has been particularly fun to work in because the data involves wildlife and, every so often, I get to travel to great outdoor locations like the mountains of Southern California or an offshore wind farm. STEM work, at its heart, is really about learning and understanding the needs of people and the world around you and then applying your STEM skills to take that understanding and enhance the human experience.”

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Maureen Madray, Fisheries Scientist and Data Analyst
5 years at Normandeau

“Entering into the world of STEM can be intimidating to any young professional, but as a woman this can come with its own unique set of challenges. While the scientific field has come a long way, there are still many barriers to be broken. You may in truth face doubt, discouragement, or sexism from older professionals and peers. But you should NEVER let anyone dictate what you CAN or CANNOT do. That is for you, and you alone to decide. It is important to remember that no matter what path you take in STEM, there is a lot of interconnectivity within all career fields – so do not limit yourself. A strong foundation in math and statistics will take you very far no matter where you hope to see yourself in 10 years. Build relationships with older or more experienced colleagues, advisors, or teachers that you can depend on and seek council or advice from. Never underestimate the value of a strong mentor; you may be surprised at how willing and ready women in STEM are to support you. Women are doing more in the world of STEM than ever before, and the future is female. Remember that you are so much more than your gender, and you can accomplish anything if you approach opportunities with a willingness to learn!”

 

Joanne L Phipps, Senior Fisheries Technician
31 years at Normandeau

“My position has given me the chance to work in the field; write technical papers; give presentations; and attend many fisheries reviews, conferences, and other environmental functions. If you are ambitious and love the outdoors, I would recommend a career in the environmental field. It has given me so many opportunities. Although it can be physically demanding and consist of some long days, in the end the work can be very rewarding.”

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Barbara Pinet, Systems Admin
8 Years at Normandeau

“Not everyone starts out with a desire to be in the IT field. When I volunteered to be the lead on a new database project, I found I enjoyed the work and had great trouble-shooting skills. This project led to a promotion to Network Administrator. At that point, I decided to go back to school for what accidently became my full-time job. I love the challenges of staying current with constantly changing technologies and teaching myself new technical skills. The constant need to increase my knowledge keeps me driven and engaged. While it is still a male-dominated field, the number of women in IT increases constantly. Come along and join us!”