JOINT COMMISSION WORKING GROUP ON
UNDER-REPRESENTED GROUPS IN SURVEYING
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FIG Working Group on Under-represented Groups in Surveying
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Chances for Women in a Male Profession
by Gerda Schennach, Austria
Personalities: Gail Oliver, USA
German DVW Working Group „Women in Surveying“ now
in new Structures
by Gabriele Dasse, Germany
Chances for Women in a Male
by Gerda Schennach, Austria
More than 50% of the world population are female. These figures are not
reflected in the gender distribution of property owners, in many countries
there are even not more than a very small percentage of female land owners
due to legal restrictions or cultural traditions.
Holding property on land is linked to fundamental rights for daily life
in many places and cultures, e.g. access to drinking water, access to
public services via taxes, participation in decision processes e.a.
Women representing a minority among land owners are subsequently a
minority in claiming their rights for their own lives.
It is mainly the profession of the surveyor who is responsible for
definition, registration and regulation of all issues of property. Getting
more women into this profession might help
- to ensure property and personal rights to women and
- to adapt the profession to changed profiles and thus secure the
The following scheme gives an overview about major changes which have
occurred to the profession during the last ten years.
The new profile of the profession opens facilities to raise interest to
women for the profession and to overcome obstacles that might have
prevented women from getting into the surveying profession. The former
outline of the profession combined with a lack of promotion for technical
skills has been a deterrent to possible female students. Working in some
specific fields of the profession created difficulties to reconcile
profession with family due to long-term field working periods or necessary
permanent residence in case of specific technical measurements in site.
Additionally there were a lot of prejudices spread by a majority of male
professionals for female incomers to overcome.
As in most other professions it is important for any underrepresented
group to take over an active role and to change the situation by
Surveying has changed from a more manual profession to a high-level IT
profession with new methods to replace the former physical skills by
mental and organisational skills. Service replaces production. The entire
former subjects of the profession form now the core of the changed scheme
with various new topics added to it.
Incoming related professions offer a big variety of activities that
help to keep the profession vital and focussed to future demands.
Information Technology, marketing, communication, promoting,
consulting, empathy for clients, sensibility for what can be done will be
recommended skills – soft skills that are mainly obtained and
traditionally well practised by women.
If women succeed to qualify for these new activities by selecting
specific curricula and continuing post-graduate training with focus on
these topics they will be able to develop leadership. They will find a
real chance first to get into technical professions and second to support
women's personal rights as land owners and property holders and therefore
will help to strengthen women's personal situation.
The main efforts must be to fill the gap
- created by decreasing number of students
- opened by graduates who start in related professions except
- widened by increasing number of new skills that are not covered by
- formed by teleworking and part-time job facilities
- growing by lack of young professionals for taking over enterprises
- for social competence and multi-cultural communication
by female professionals!
If women will be able to fill the gap, they will not only improve their
representation but also play a leading role.
Chances have never been better as now for women to contribute to the
surveying profession and help to build up a profession which plays an
important role in the global and local market representing the interests
of both genders according to the proportion in the population – which is
to say fifty-fifty.
BEV Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen
(Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying)
Buergerstrasse 34, A-6010 Innsbruck, Austria
||Patricia “Gail” Oliver
is a Professional Surveyor and Mapper licensed to practice in the State
of Florida, USA. She has over 23 years of experience. In March 1979,
after graduating from the First Coast Technical Institute with a Diploma
in Drafting and Design – Cartography, she began her career with The
Deltona Corporation at their St. Augustine Shores Development as a
drafter/rodman. Since that time she worked for Charles Bassett &
Associates, Inc. and Crosscheck, Inc., both located in Jacksonville,
Florida. Gail attributes her career being on the fast track to being in
the right place at the right time. She had the opportunity to
participate in some high profile projects with groundbreaking technology
and approaches in her early years with Charles Bassett & Associates,
Inc. Gail has extensive experience in most aspects of surveying,
including Boundary, Platting, Topographic, Mean High Water,
Rights-of-Way, Hydrographic, and Geodetic Surveys.
Gail had not always planned to be a surveyor. In 1977, at
the age of 17 years, she decided to transfer from Catholic high school and
a very structured environment to the First Coast Technical Institute. She
tried to enroll in bookkeeping/secretarial studies, but those classes were
full. Her advisor said the only studies with openings were in the drafting
and design discipline. Reluctantly, Gail enrolled, thinking maybe she’d
eventually become an architect. Her mentor, Mr. Frank Willie, took her
under his wing and guided her towards surveying since he immediately
recognized her mathematics skills. From that point forward Gail fell in
love with the profession and all it represented. Having always had a
straightforward approach, “can do” attitude, and the ability to get along
with people, she excelled.
In 1993, her career in the private sector ended as a
result of her mother being diagnosed with cancer and the demands of
raising a family. The difficult decision was made to enter the world of
government employment that offered forty hour work weeks, sick time,
vacation time, insurance and retirement benefits. Again on the fast track,
Gail worked her way from engineering technician in 1993 to County Surveyor
for St. Johns County, Florida in 1995.
As County Surveyor, Gail oversees the GIS and Survey
Divisions. St. Johns County being one of only two Florida counties where
the GIS Division reports directly to the County Surveyor. As County
Surveyor, one of the duties is to review proposed record plats that will
eventually be recorded in the public records. Doing these reviews earned
Gail an invite to participate on a state committee to rewrite platting
laws. Participation on this committee then propelled her into being
appointed by the Governor of Florida to the state regulatory board for
professional surveyors. Gail served eight years on this board, along with
becoming active on a national level in the American Congress on Surveying
and Mapping, National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), National
Association of County Surveyors, and the National Council of Examiners for
Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
Having just completed a two year term as Chair of the NSPS
Forum for Equal Opportunity and completing task force work on the NCEES
Model Law for Surveying, Gail has just been elected as President-Elect of
the National Association of County Surveyors. She will be the first female
president of the organization.
Gail is married to Mike Oliver for seventeen years
and has a twenty-one year old daughter and a twenty-three year old
stepdaughter. She also has two cats and a dog and loves the outdoors.
German DVW Working Group „Women in
Surveying“ now in new Structures
by Gabriele Dasse, Germany
After first activities in FIG about the subject „Women in Surveying“ in
1989 a Working Group was founded in the DVW with the name „Frauen im
Vermessungswesen (Women in Surveying), AG FiV“. This working group was not
integrated in the structures of the association, but since 1995 the AG FiV
got the same financial support like the 9 national Commissions in DVW. In
2002 the General Assembly of DVW decided, that the Working Group is
terminated by the end of 2002. The autonomy of the group will get lost but
with the new period starting January 2003 the work will be integrated
under the title “Frauen im DVW (Women in DVW)” in the new national
Commission I (Commission 1 and 2 in FIG) and the financial support will be
the same as before. Gabriele Dasse, Chair of the Working Group, and
Angelika Schuchardt, Vice-Chair of the Working Group, are members of that
new DVW Commission I and it is their hope that the concerns of women in
surveying won’t get lost. In the moment the AG FiV has 57 members, from
all over the country and from all fields of the profession.
During the last annual national congress INTERGEO in Frankfurt
in October 2002, the AG FiV was present at the booth of the DVW. The goal
was to contact colleagues and to inform about the activities of the
The meeting of AG FiV held during the INTERGEO on October 17 was
very well attended. 20 members of AG FiV participated. DVW Vice-President
Dr. Thöne informed about the new structures of DVW and the changes
for AG FiV. And among other things there was a report about a seminar
organized by AG FiV about career planning. The meeting was proceeded at
the booth of DVW.
DVW Vice-President Dr. Karl-Friedrich Thöne with
members of AG FiV: Jennifer Maldar, Gabriele Dasse (Chair of
AG FiV), Birgit Bannert, Susanne Klinke, Regine Martin,
Angelika Schuchardt (Vice-Chair of AG FiV), Katja Zoll
(Vice-Chair of AG FiV), Elke Schultze-Graf.
The “Women in DVW” will meet 4. –
6. April 2003 in order to organise the next activities. Subjects will be
the exchange of experiences concerning professional situations and
careers, revision of the internet sites and recruitment of young people
for the surveying profession. In 2002 fourteen women participated and had
a work-filled but successful and interesting weekend.
Editor: Chair of the Joint Commission Working Group
on Under-represented Groups in Surveying
Ms. Gabriele Dasse,
Kleinfeld 22 a, D-21149
1/03, month of issue:
© Copyright 2003 Gabriele Dasse.
Permission is granted to photocopy in limited quantity for educational
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