Who Runs the World? Girls! Females in Land Surveying Careers
Is land surveying a man’s world? Maybe it used to be! Perhaps women don’t “look the part” of a traditional land surveyor, and perhaps land surveying is still a heavily male-dominated profession. But the times, they are a’changin, and we think it’s time to recognize and celebrate the women, past and present, that have made their mark on land surveying.
Perhaps the first female American land surveyor was Alice Fletcher. She was known to allot Indian lands in the mid-1800s. Native Americans referred to her as the “Measuring Woman” as she became a leader for the reform of the Indian reservation system. She helped them obtain legal titles to their farms, and she allotted and surveyed hundreds of thousands of acres on reservations.
In the early 1900’s a few women were known to have careers in land surveying, and there is even evidence of some all-female survey crews. Many more women likely entered the field during times of war, but there is little record of the number, or how many women retained these positions when men returned from service.
While it’s true that historically, the profession of land surveying has tended to be male dominated, in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of women who are choosing to pursue an education and career path in the field of surveying. Women now make up about 13 percent of all land surveyor careers, and the number continues to climb. Overall, it appears that women are significantly underrepresented in all STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers, but that number is growing. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in January that, the percentage of women increased from 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% in 2019.
At LSI, we are excited about this positive trend, and would like to proudly recognize our own trailblazer Larissa Bulau, UAS Remote Pilot and Field Surveyor. Larissa has worked at LSI since 2017, and during that time we have appreciated her dedication, skills, and diligence out in the field. She specializes in boundary surveying (PLSS, residential, urban, rural), Autodesk Civil 3D, Trimble survey equipment, construction staking, oil and gas production staking, as-built and as-drilled surveys, topography surveys, drone (UAS/UAV) surveying, and records research. She earned her degrees in Butte, Montana, where a love for the outdoors led her to a career path in land surveying. To Larissa, and all the women in land surveying careers, thank you for being role models and an inspiration to young women coming up in the field!
In the current field of land surveying, there generally tends to be acceptance and respect for women who have the much-needed skills and experience. Regardless of gender, we all want the same thing as land surveying professionals. We want to do the best job we can possibly do in an accurate and unbiased way. Only years of experience and training in the land surveying field will get us there.