Celebrating International Women's Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we interviewed women leaders from Irving Shipbuilding and Fleetway Inc. to learn what progress they have seen for gender equality during their careers.

Mary Keith, Vice President, Communications at Irving Shipbuilding

Education: Bachelor of arts with Honours from Mount Allison University and Bachelor of Education from Acadia University

"I have been with J.D. Irving for over 25 years and love the diversity of people, businesses and stories that I have experienced with the organization throughout my career. Ships for Canada and the awarding of the contract back in 2011 are memorable parts of this journey and it is very exciting to be part of the shipbuilding team today.

Over the course of 25+ years in largely industrial, male-dominated operations, it has been very rewarding to see and share the growth of opportunities for remarkable women – in trades, STEM professions and leadership positions. In shipbuilding, the data tells us that we are exceeding the provincial and national averages in the number of women in skilled trades as well as engineering.

My advice for young women beginning their journey:

  1. Choose a career you are passionate about
  2. Own it, give it all you have and be open to new possibilities
  3. Find a mentor
  4. Be a continuous learner"

Kelly Loder, Program Manager at Fleetway Inc.

Education: Diploma Electrical Engineering Technology (Industrial Controls) from the College of the North Atlantic. Certificate in Project Management for the Project Management Associate from Saint Mary’s University.

Have you seen progress in gender equality in the area that you work in?

“There has been substantial progress in the last 10-15 years where gender equality in my field of work has improved. I think back to when I was in college taking Electrical Engineering Technology where I was the first and only woman to graduate. During these times women were the minority of the student population which was a common theme across all engineering fields. Since graduating in 2002, I have seen universities and colleges take big steps to make engineering and technology fields more appealing and accepting to women. Today, we see more women entering these fields. We are also seeing more women leaders emerge from engineering project teams.”

Do you find there are more women filling leadership roles than when you started your career?

“When I first started at Fleetway, we did not have any women who were filling senior leadership roles. Over the past 16 years, I have seen a number of women progresses in this company. Fleetway’s women leaders have taken ownership of their careers and worked extremely hard to ensure that our company and our people are successful. They brought the right skills to the table and proved that they are the most qualified individuals for the role they are filling.”

What advice would you give to women who are starting their careers?

“My advice is based upon the path I have taken and the challenges that I faced as I progressed my career.

  1. Own your career: No one is in control of your career other than you.
  2. Recognize your strengths and focus on leveraging them as you progress your career.

Jessica Michael, Manager, Labour Relations at Irving Shipbuilding

Education: LLB Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University and LLM Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.

Have you seen progress in gender equality in the area that you work in?

“When I was in university, women made up about half of the program. Now, more women are pursuing a career in law and this has increased to about 60%. We also have more women joining the shipbuilding industry. It is important that ISI is diverse, equitable, and inclusive for women.”

Do you find there are more women filling leadership roles than when you started your career?

“Yes, there are more women filling leadership roles, but we need to ensure that we support and develop people to push for change to forge women’s equality. Women being in leadership roles brings diversity of perspective and approaches to the business.

What advice would you give to women who are starting their careers?

“You own your career; don’t leave your career in the hands of someone else, take control of it. “

Are you interested in joining our shipbuilding team? We’re hiring! Visit J.D. Irving, Limited Careers - Jobs Home (jdirving.com) to learn more about opportunities at Irving Shipbuilding.


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