Shannon Viegas started her career at Randstad in 2010 in the Staffing division. But in a few short years, she would find herself in engineering.

With a major in Psychology, a minor in English and Literature from the University of Waterloo and a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources Management from Seneca, working in engineering recruiting is not a natural career path. But a series of post-maternity leave opportunities set the transition in motion.

She joined the engineering team in 2014 after working in the RIS division. “…the RIS account that I had managed had since shut down which led me to hunt for new opportunities in hopes I’d be able to find something within Randstad,” Shannon explains. “And then there came Engineering -the elusive LOB I never really understood and had no idea what they really did. Sure, let’s give it a shot!” she adds.

The new opportunity came with a lot of learning. Understanding the basics of recruiting, Shannon believed the shift to engineering would reinvigorate her passion when learning a whole new specialty.

“I found myself faced with the need to read, research, learn, study, I was committed to positioning myself as a subject matter expert in a very (and I mean VERY) male-dominated sector, as a young female professional, she explains.”

Upon returning from her third (and final) maternity leave, Shannon returned to work with a new sense of passion and a different mindset. She was going to push hard to make a difference.

“I wanted to be a part of making this LOB bigger and better than ever before - moving up from a Recruiter to a Team Lead and then to a Branch Manager and now into the Director seat, I am impacting the direction of a sector I never dreamt I would be a part of.”

But her success didn’t come without its challenges.

“The biggest challenge for me in moving into the Engineering space and “working my way up” is that I always want to work hard and earn my advancement, it’s easy for women in this space to feel like the “diversity hire”.”

Shannon also had to face the challenges of being in a predominantly male field. She finds it important to remind herself she is the subject matter expert. “I am, however, the expert in human capital within this sector. I can provide insight and expertise my clients and candidates do not have, and I strive to build partnerships within the market that allows all parties to share their piece of expertise, she explains.”

Shannon’s success has come from having a genuine passion for Engineering and surrounding herself with others who share this passion. Yet, women in engineering remain underrepresented. Women account for fewer than a quarter of the engineers at most tech companies.

Shannon believes that being a female in this sector provides truly little advantage. Females in this sector can, and should, take advantage of their platforms and speak openly and honestly about the field. The constant conversation is what will allow for this sector to “level the playing fields”.

The stereotypes about women and STEM persist, even in the face of evidence that women can and do productively participate in the STEM field. Shannon believes the key to breaking down these stereotypes is to talk about them.

“Acknowledging that the stereotypes exist and unpacking “the why” will allow us to have thoughtful conversations and it’s those conversations that will impact the trajectory, she says.”

“Empowering girls to follow their passion, regardless of whether that passion fits the gender stereotypes that society has constructed, will allow for a generation of women who do amazing things. I can’t wait for my daughter to be a part of that change, and for her brothers to work beside her.”