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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Bechtel’s golden anniversary with the Society of Women Engineers

This year, Bechtel marks 50 years partnering with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the world’s largest advocate and catalyst for change for women in engineering and technology.

From volunteering for local sections, speaking at conferences, and serving in global leadership roles, including SWE’s presidency, Bechtel has been a proud and active supporter of SWE.

But our journey is far from over. We remain steadfast in our commitment to support SWE’s mission and increase more pathways for women in engineering.

A timeline: looking back on Bechtel and SWE’s 50-year partnership

SWE was founded in 1950. Many of Bechtel’s engineers quickly became active members, dedicating their time to supporting women in the engineering field when only 3% of the engineering workforce were women. Two of Bechtel’s first members were Ada Pressman, who was a power control systems engineer in Los Angeles, and Carole Colucci, an electrical engineer in New York City. In 1969, Carole was honored for starting SWE’s Columbia University chapter and serving as its first president.

Group photo with SWE women

Ada Pressman and Dorothy Barkow (second row, eighth and ninth from left) were among the first women on the steam mechanical engineering team in Bechtel’s Los Angeles office.


Bechtel becomes a corporate member of SWE.


Ada, chief control systems engineer, Jeanne Bruck, Human Resources specialist, and Massy Kadivar, an electrical engineer and chairperson of the Golden Gate Section of SWE, shared in Bechtel News their views on how SWE helps women in engineering. To them, the support of other women engineers was essential by providing mentorship and guidance.

Women Engineers

Massy shared her thoughts on the longevity and support of the organization, saying, "Students must realize that now is a time of change. They must take the initiative and make the most of the opportunity. While every woman must plan her own goals, long range plans contribute to a successful career."

"Another excellent way to meet women engineers is through technical societies, which provide career-assisting experiences that aren't available at school or on the job,” Massy added.


Ada, an expert in control systems engineering from Bechtel's Los Angeles office, is elected president of SWE. Ada joined Bechtel in 1955 and was considered an expert in power plant controls and process instrumentation by her retirement in 1987. Learn more about Ada here.


Ada, now engineering manager for Bechtel’s Los Angeles office, is named a SWE Fellow.

Ada Pressman


Project Engineer Lynne Powell from the San Francisco office earns SWE’s Distinguished New Engineer award.

The 2000s

In the new millennium, our colleagues became more active than ever. Three of our four SWE presidents were elected, and our female engineers received numerous awards and recognition for their achievements.


Gail Mattson, a program manager at Bechtel Jacobs Company in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is elected president of SWE.

news snippet about engineering society president


Siddika Demir earns SWE’s Emerging Leader Award for her work as manager of Six Sigma for the Services organizations.

Siddika Demir receives Award


Siddika, based in San Francisco, is elected SWE president.


Colleen Layman, a manager for the water treatment engineering team in the Frederick, Maryland office, is elected SWE president.

water treatment engineering team photo

Barbara Rusinko (first row, third from left) earned SWE’s Global Leadership Award in 2016.


Barbara Rusinko, who served as president of Bechtel Nuclear, Security & Environmental until her retirement in 2021, receives SWE’s Global Leadership Award for her contributions to the engineering profession and the next generation of female engineers. 


Women@Bechtel, one of our Business Resource Groups, earned three SWE Mission awards for developing programs that embody SWE’s core values and help achieve the organization’s strategic goals.

group of women at awards presentation

Laura Aiken (fifth from left) accepted the SWE Mission award on behalf of Women@Bechtel.


As the world addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, so did our volunteers. Many of our Bechtel colleagues virtually participated in conferences around the globe.

Bechtel’s Social Media Manager, Christen McCluney, with bp Recruiter Stacy Zeller, joined forces to present “Brand you – in a virtual world” at SWE’s WE20 virtual conference.


Bechtel Group Foundation supports global expansion of SWENext, a program that empowers young women to succeed in their science, technology, engineering, and math studies. The gift helped support the creation of 50 SWENext clubs worldwide, reaching more than 6,000 students in 12 countries.


Bechtel’s New Delhi team members joined SWE and Tapas Foundation in helping 350 young women explore career options in the STEM fields.

New Dehli team members

Meenakshi Nagarajan (center) from Bechtel’s New Delhi office shares her story with the 10- to 14-year-old students.

Three Bechtel women are featured in Constance and Nano Engineering Adventure, the SWE-published comic book that shows how engineers are always finding creative, exciting ways to make the world awesome.

engineering poster


Bechtel Group Foundation made a second gift to support the SWENext program’s global expansion.

Chairman and CEO Brendan Bechtel joins SWE’s 2022 conference as a panelist for the Inspirational Insight: Inclusive Leadership from the Top session.

This week, we'll be at #WE22 in Houston, Texas! Stop by booth 1017 to chat with the Bechtel team. 


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