Jenny MacMahon Shines the Light on Gender Balance

As WSP’s Director of Environment, Jenny MacMahon is a passionate advocate for equality in the workplace.

In managing a growing team of environmental professionals, she leads by example and encourages positive behaviours towards tackling the gender gap.


In a recent interview with Jenny, we talked about the higher representation of women in environmental fields when compared to traditional areas of engineering.


“Environmental technical disciplines are not as male-dominated as engineering generally,” says Jenny. “Part of this has to do with the larger feeder group that we have in terms of science and engineering. The other part has to do with the industry itself.


“Our environment business is reflective of this – we have a ratio of 48% females to 52% males. While we’re not at parity, we’re pretty close. And, we have a range of initiatives designed to get us there soon. For example, we have balanced scorecards in place that include gender diversity success factors and we aim for 50/50 representation in everything that we do – from recruitment to resourcing teams and senior leadership as well as succession planning and attending client events.


As a team, we are all actively engaged in trying to achieve a more gender-balanced workplace. Flexible working is key to this – whether that is terms of hours of work, patterns of work or locations of work. In that regard, what’s available to people at WSP is excellent. We are task oriented rather than work environment oriented, and that’s a plus. And, we believe firmly in work-life balance.”


10 Seconds of Courage

One of the challenges Jenny believes our industry faces is the lack of role models.


“We need to increase the visibility of women in technical fields,” adds Jenny. "Environmental scientists and engineers change the world and can have interesting careers – and this can include having leadership roles in projects and a firm, a break to have children, travel the world, or take care of a loved one, for example.


“Having said that, we know that women are sometimes shy about applying for the next step in their careers unless they are 100% confident in their abilities to perform. My advice is to have 10 seconds of courage and go for it! Think about your skills and areas of competencies and extend yourself.


“Diversity can apply to your career. Think a little differently about your professional capabilities and whether you can transfer those to complimentary areas to diversify your experiences.


“Be the change that you want to be from a gender and diversity perspective.”




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WSP Diversity and Inclusion