Leite The bureaucratic work, but it's part of the job.

Ponce What really gets under my skin is when people don't take me seriously because of my age and because I'm a woman.

How have women in construction, as a group, fared during the downturn?

Leite It was good for some of us. We were able to use characteristics that we have of being good communicators and being adaptable to survive. Women tend to be loyal, so when companies choose someone to invest in, it's someone who is going to stick around for a long time.

Crawford It has been a tough market for everyone. I haven't seen women hurt disproportionately in the engineering world.

How important are mentors and role models?

Spain I think having a role model is very important. Having someone that you can talk with about work and learn from is instrumental in nurturing a safety-oriented and productive work ethic while demonstrating integrity and accountability for your work.

Vacca Exceptionally important. As younger people in the industry, you are always looking to where you will be in the future and how you get there.

Vogel I didn't realize how important mentors were till I got one. After hearing advice from a conference speaker who challenged attendees to find mentors they look up to, I reached out that night to Dan Swayze, president of Birdsall's energy and sustainability division. I'd have him tag along to meetings when I presented. It's nice to have another set of eyes on you and to comment on how you can make it better.

Bauer I am grateful to my first mentor, my father, in terms of becoming an engineer. He told me, "There's no such thing as 'just for boys or for girls.' You do what you like." But along the way I came across wonderful engineers, [mostly] men who never had even the slightest amount of prejudice. They welcomed me and treated me as an equal—lucky me. The thing that holds people back from being their best are their "under the skin" prejudices. They exist in men and women. This is what we need to overcome. I am the product of mentoring by wonderful, wonderful men. I just hope I can be a mentor for young girls and boys.