PLSO The Oregon Surveyor May/June 2022

14 The Oregon Surveyor | Vol. 45, No. 3 Featured Article WOMEN IN SURVEYING By Renee Clough, PLS, PE, AICP This article has been years in the making. In 2015, I read Marked, a novel by Karen Zollman. The story is fictional, but my understanding is that it’s based on her real-life experiences as a female surveyor. I was surprised by the amount of sexism that Ms. Zollman portrayed; it didn’t align with my experiences as a female surveyor. This led to me wondering whose experiences, mine or Ms. Zollman’s, were more normal. This article was born from that curiosity. I decided to talk to a selection of other women in the field and share what I learned. Of the approximately 820 active surveyor licenses in Oregon, somewhere in the range of 35 to 60 are female.* Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a precise count; since OSBEELS doesn’t track gender I had to estimate the women based on first name. I like to joke that, with so few women to men, the PLSO conferences are the only place I can be in a large crowd and walk right into the bathroom for my pick of stalls. As I quickly realized though, the flip side to that coin was that I didn’t have immediately on hand a large pool of people to interview for this article. The women who were generous enough to give time answering my questions were Paula Norness, Cindy Halcumb, Alycia Lenzen-Hammer, and Edith Forkner. I met Paula through PLSO early in my career; she was close to retirement and an institution in the local survey community. Sadly, she died shortly after I interviewed her but I’m glad I was able to include her voice here. I’ve never met Cindy; Greg Crites recommended her to me for this article. She owns a surveying business in Washington but holds an active Oregon license. Alycia has a number of family members who made careers out of survey fieldwork but her own path to surveying is via a degree in natural resources. At this point, she’s learning about the breadth of options in the industry as she works toward licensure. Edith works for the BLM and has made a number of PLSS presentations for PLSO gatherings. I asked all of them the same questions. I’ve done some editing of their answers to keep this from running on forever but, overall, I’ve tried to leave the answers as the women said them so that readers can draw their own conclusions. Why did you go into surveying? Renee: I’m sure on some level my dad being a surveyor influenced me, but the final decision to switch from structural engineering to a blend of civil engineering and surveying came from a summer job with Greg Solarz. Paula: Her father being a surveyor was a significant influence and helped smooth over what could have been significant barriers. Interestingly, she didn’t originally intend to become licensed. Her dad was the first surveyor in Lane County to hire a woman. Cindy: Was studying at the School of Mines in Colorado and had a summer job doing tunnel surveying in Hawaii. She enjoyed the summer job so much that she didn’t return to school. Alycia: She took a four-month internship with the South Slough Sanctuary (near Coos Bay) because the RTK surveying and GIS work sounded interesting. As part of that internship, she worked with John Minor on topo surveying. She enjoyed being outdoors and through John’s mentorship realized that surveying was an attractive career option. Following the internship, she connected with Chris Glanz who further reinforced her interest in surveying. Edith: She was near the end of a math degree and realized she needed to figure out something to do as a career. After taking multiple career placement questionnaires at the counseling center, she realized surveying was a common theme to the results. As she learned more about the career, she realized it was a good fit because surveying blends the type of math she likes with her enjoyment of the outdoors, history, and hiking. Based on that she got a second degree in geomatics. What are your favorite things about surveying? Renee: A combination of working on a giant jigsaw puzzle and helping people. Paula: Investigating, especially historic records; drafting; and human interactions. Cindy: The day-to-day variety and challenges; meeting people. Alycia: GPS, coordinate systems and geodesy. Photogrammetry and remote sensing are also intriguing. Edith: Hiking, history, and sharing her knowledge so that others can understand too. What type of projects do you primarily work on? Renee: Urban development: subdivisions, partitions, site plan review, etc. Paula: Cemeteries, topography, timber boundaries, water rights. Cindy: Mostly commercial, but a fair amount of tunnel control. Alycia: At this point she doesn’t have a primary survey project type, but she