The Women’s Inclusive Network group (WIN@JM) at Johns Manville regularly publishes stories featuring women across the company. These women have technical responsibility for product lines in each of JM’s three core businesses.
Name: Chanel Charbonneau
Title: Product Engineer
Division: Insulation Systems
Years at JM: 5
Tell us what you do at JM: I’m a Product Engineer for JM’s spray foam business, working on the development of new and improved products from formulation to launch and beyond.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? The sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing that a product my colleagues and I have developed is making homes more energy-efficient and comfortable. I can see my positive contribution to the world in a tangible way.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in your field of work? It’s still very common to hear people referring to contractors, engineers, installers, etc. as “he” or “men”, even when the speaker is talking about a generic, conceptual person. Regardless of what percentage of the construction industry is currently made up of men, the assumption that you can always refer to someone as “he” helps perpetuate the enormous gender disparity, especially in labor-intensive roles. Language shapes the way we think and interact with others. While, statistically, engineering and construction are beginning to favor men less, the culture has not caught up.
What advice do you have for others to encourage young women to pursue technical careers? Don’t treat them differently than you would treat anyone else! Often, people praise girls and young women for having the courage and intelligence to want to pursue technical careers. Even when it’s intended as a compliment, it can be intimidating and discouraging to plant the idea that going into STEM fields is this unusual, surprising thing. It’s time to set gender aside and normalize the inclusion of everyone who is interested in these fields.
What is one fun or interesting fact about yourself?
I’m a competitive open-water swimmer.