International Women's Day today has us celebrating the City of Weyburn's Engineering department, which is made up entirely of women.

For the past four years, Jennifer Wilkinson has been the Engineering Director for the City Of Weyburn, having gotten her career started in Oil & Gas. 

"I really had an aptitude for math and science, and we had a really good physics teacher in high school. He did tell me that engineering would be really hard, and I took that more as of a challenge, as 'you know what? I like a challenge, and I can accomplish that."

Municipal Engineer for the City of Weyburn for three years now, Renee Cugnet said it was her dad who inspired her to go into engineering.

"I grew up on an active cattle and grain farm with three brothers, eventually a little sister, but he gave me the same opportunity as he gave my brothers, to be actively participating in the farm, hands-on and working in the field, and that really inspired me," she shared. "It's where I developed my love for being on-site, outside, and working with equipment, construction, seeing projects start to finish, and coming up with innovative ideas to make things work."

Both of the City's Engineers are also mothers.

Wilkinson shared, "If younger women can see us in maybe what is a 'non-traditional role' or more of a leadership role, especially for myself as well as Renee, working moms, to see that you can accomplish your career goals, you can be a really good mom, and you can do it all with balance, I feel like that can inspire younger generations to say, you know what? I don't have to have a defined path. I can choose what path I want, and it can be anything."

"A big thing around International Women's Day is we have fought for the choice, that you can find what really inspires you and what your passion is, and you can do that," she continued. "That's a really good thing to see, and show all these roles, as we have engineers and we have operators, and we have a lot of women throughout the city doing very diverse roles."

"We can promote that a little and say, 'You know what? Girls, pick your path'. Whatever you want to do, it doesn't matter, because you can make that choice and you can pick the life that you want to live."

Cugnet shared, "Honestly, this field can be challenging for women, especially working moms. But the more confidence we have, and support from our community, and from our team, the more things will change in this field for the better. So yeah, you can choose your path, and I think that's a great thing. In my past, I've worked a lot of long hours, long days away from home, which made it really challenging when you have small kids at home, but with the support from your team, you can make it work."

Both Wilkinson and Cugnet expressed that being mothers has made them better at their jobs.

"I'm actually a better leader now, now, as a mom than I would have been if not having children, or prior to having children," said Wilkinson. "I feel it made me actually a lot more compassionate and made me see the balance in life better."  

"Nothing will teach you patience like young children," she added.

"--And how to manage time and juggle multiple tasks," Cugnet interjected. "That's what I feel like is very important in this field. The skills you develop to manage your time and manage priorities and different tasks, it really goes hand in hand with family life and and work life."

Wilkinson said their team at the City has helped them both enjoy a good work-life balance, as they have built a supportive team that has each others' backs.

"We understand that people have commitments with kids and everything, we'll support a team that you make sure that all the work is getting done, you can find that balance, so that people have that good life balance and you build that team with the different strengths and the different opportunities," she noted. "We build that team to make sure that all angles are covered from a work perspective."

"We understand that the contractors might work on a Saturday, then maybe that means that they leave early on Friday because they're coming in on Saturday," Wilkinson explained. "It's probably nothing for maybe your kids are in the car as you stop by the construction sites and they actually get a lot of exposure to our work. So I think there is a lot of flexibility in the sense that we need to make that work, and I believe all workplaces need to make that work to keep women in the workforce."

Cugnet said she has gained a lot of confidence throughout her career. 

"Just being on site, working with lots of the local contractors and and our operators, I've gained a lot of confidence in my career and in this field just because I feel very valued and that's huge. It's very rewarding," she shared. "I actually, I love driving down 5th Street now and the intersection like the two big projects that I managed last year, it's very rewarding and seeing those from start to finish and what a success they turned out and we couldn't, I couldn't have done that without our supportive and cohesive team that we have here."

"I love being part of such a supportive team, that we're able to bring these awesome projects to life and the whole community gets to enjoy them," she added. "Since coming to the City of Weyburn, my role here has given me so much confidence in my field and I feel very valued by my team and my coworkers and the contractors I work with." 

Wilkinson said coming from the oil and gas industry, she is continually growing, "and we've seen a lot of changes over the years on the focus and infrastructure, so I think I've learned so much and gotten to meet so many people, but we are, at the city, building such a good organization of supportive teammates and progressive ideas and really hoping to continue to meet the needs of the residents but make this a community that people want to choose."

Cugnet added that International Women's Day can highlight that women can excel just as well as men in any field they're interested in, "especially with the support of their team, and that's what I have at the city of Weyburn, and it's been wonderful."