women in construction week: ruth gordon schnapp

Women in Construction Week: Ruth Gordon Schnapp

Women in Construction Week is an annual event that takes place during the first full week of March. This week-long event celebrates women in the construction industry and their contributions to the field. The event was established by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) in 1953 to promote awareness of the opportunities available to women in the construction industry and to encourage women to pursue careers in construction.

During Women in Construction Week, various events and activities are organized to celebrate and promote women in the industry. These may include networking events, educational workshops, panel discussions, job fairs, and community service projects. The goal is to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities that women face in the construction industry and to encourage more women to pursue careers in this field.

The construction industry has historically been male-dominated, but women are making strides to break down barriers and become more involved in this field. Women in Construction Week is an important event that recognizes the contributions of women in the construction industry and encourages others to follow in their footsteps.

Engineer Profile: Ruth Gordon Schnapp

Ruth Gordon Schnapp was California's first female registered structural engineer. Ruth attended Stanford's engineering program with 13 other women. She was one of only two from her female class to graduate from the program in 1950. Ruth faced much gender discrimination throughout her collegiate education and later her professional career. These gender based challenges ranged from enforced dress codes to finding employment as an engineer. 

Ruth did eventually land her first professional engineering job at the firm Isadore Thompson. There she was able to gain the engineering project experience to sit and pass the California Structural Engineer’s exam. Thus becoming the first licensed female structural engineer in the state in 1959. Ruth also was the first woman inducted into the Structural Engineers Association. Outside of her design work, Ruth championed for stronger and more inclusive roles for women in engineering. Ruth also contributed financially to her local Women in Engineering chapter’s scholarship fund for promising women engineers. Thus creating future opportunities for women to enter the engineering profession.

Ruth is one of the many female examples as to why we see so much more gender diversity in the AEC industry today. Here at RISA, we are proud our past, current, and future female representation in the workplace. Women hold a variety of positions at RISA from software engineers, structural engineers, to higher leadership roles (including our current CEO, Amber Freund).

Happy Women in Construction Week!

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