Engineering, a field traditionally dominated by men, is experiencing a significant shift as women increasingly make their mark in the industry. Talented and dedicated women engineers are breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and bringing fresh perspectives to solve complex problems. We celebrate the extraordinary achievements of remarkable women like E.B. Horsman’s Process Instrumentation Manager, Jenny Sparkes, whose story is undeniably inspiring.
My name is Jenny Sparkes, and I am the Process Instrumentation Manager at E.B. Horsman & Son. My journey into the engineering field first sparked my interest in learning how things worked and my desire to pursue an education that encompasses practical hands-on experience. I originally signed up to study biomedical engineering, then switched to Instrumentation and Automation. During my first general year, I learned about other fields of electrical and computer engineering, such as Instrumentation and Automation. I was drawn to Instrumentation and Automation the more I understood it. With Instrumentation and Automation, I realized I could have a global impact and provides skills and flexibility to work worldwide. I would experience working in numerous applications ranging from the food and beverage industry, water and wastewater infrastructure, forestry, and more. I knew this was the right calling for me.
Being a woman in this industry can have its challenges. There are many times that we have to prove ourselves to get our foot in the door. Yet, I find that once I do, I have the respect and confidence of someone in the industry, then usually, there are no further issues. Furthermore, having limited women in the industry is challenging as changes in a male-dominated industry without many new female representations can be slow. I have heard countless times from men in the industry that ” it is a lot better now” for women, but this is from a man’s perspective.
I would love to see more young and upcoming professionals pursue this industry; this is one of the reasons why I stay in touch and participate in panels with BCIT, such as the Women in Engineering Panel I was on earlier this year. One thing that was very refreshing at this panel was the number of questions from both women and men in the audience and their genuine interest in how to get more women into this industry. This upcoming generation seems very aware of the imbalance in this industry and wants to find solutions to balance it.
I believe it needs to start from an early age, letting the young women in our lives know they can be whoever and whatever they want to be, including an engineer. There is some intimidation going into a classroom as the only female, yet by promoting women in engineering at an early age and throughout adolescence, even before high school, we should see more women in this industry. It is not a simple solution, but it is a small step we all can do to empower young women.
I am very proud of the career I have developed at E.B. Horsman. I began working here after graduating from BCIT with my Instrumentation and Automation Diploma from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Program. My career at E.B. Horsman started as an Inside Technical Salesperson, then moved on to a PI Application Specialist. After two years, I applied for an open position as a Process Instrumentation Business Developer, where I was in that position for six years. Within that six years, I also got my diploma from UBC Saunders School of Business for Management Essentials. In February 2022, I was promoted to Manager of the Instrumentation Department after Ricardo, my previous boss and mentor, retired.
Aside from my role as the Process Instrumentation Manager, I am also actively involved in E.B. Horsman Giving Back Committee as the treasurer for the past two years. Additionally, I am actively involved with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at E.B. Horsman and run the E.B. Horsman Market.
I am very proud of my recognition and achievements over the past years. I have won the Giving Back of the Year award for 2021, and I have also won the Business Developer of the Year award at E.B. Horsman twice.
My advice for young women is to follow your dreams, never hold back on who you are, and remember you can be ANYTHING you want to be!