WESmag >>


 don't stop dreaming. 


Kritika Thapa ’09

Kritika Thapa ’09 came to Wesleyan from Nepal on a full-tuition plus room and board international student scholarship to study environmental science with a focus on chemistry and a minor in mathematics. Today she serves as an environmental engineer and project manager at EA Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc., PBC., in Syracuse, New York. Her work is primarily in the field of site characterization and remediation, which involves remediating historically contaminated federal and state Superfund sites. Her duties involve managing and designing environmental remediation systems and performing feasibility studies for the cleanup of contaminated sites. This includes using various environmental models to assist with system design and engineering data evaluations; preparing plans, specifications, and cost estimates for construction; managing projects to assure that the technical, administrative, hour, and schedule targets are met within the established company framework and in accordance with professional standards; preparing contractor work plans and scopes of work; providing oversight of construction and field activities; and preparing various reports as they pertain to feasibility studies, basis of design, and construction completion reports.

What attracted you to this field?

My love for nature and the idea of being able to give back by understanding and solving complex environmental processes and problems. My dad, who is a civil engineer by profession, likely influenced me as well. I grew up in a patriarchal society in Kathmandu, Nepal, but in a very supportive family of three daughters. Growing up, we had this mindset: girls can be equal to or better than boys.

Did you have experience such as a similar job prior or an internship as a student?

After my junior year at Wesleyan, I worked as a soil hydrologist intern at the University of Minnesota. There, I got to understand subsurface contamination and how plants could be used to clean up agricultural contaminants. After graduating, I went on to work as a modeling and assessment specialist at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality where I managed projects and used various environmental models alongside engineers to demonstrate how Texas could meet EPA air quality goals. My graduate degree is in environmental engineering, focused on water resources engineering.

Would you say there are more men than women in your career field and if so, why do you think that is?

Yes, there are definitely more men. The gap is noticeable but slowly shrinking. In the past, women often assumed the caretaker role, delaying their entry into the workforce. Hence male dominance has persisted as we try to catch up. Young girls consider math and science difficult subjects that are mainly for the boys, particularly as they are exposed to more male figures in these fields. Even with recent advancements and the push for women in STEM, the continuing workplace sexism and gender stereotyping has led to women quitting as they struggle to be taken seriously.

Has gaining respect and proving your abilities been an intimidating process?

There is an unspoken expectation of what a female engineer ‘should look like,’ and if you don’t fit the box, you may have to work even harder. Because I’m well aware of the biases against minorities in this field, I’ve always worked harder which comes naturally to me. I believe I learned that work ethic from my hardworking mom.

Have you met with obstacles at your job based on the fact that you are a woman?

Not so much in the workplace but sometimes at construction sites while working with contractors, most of whom are men. They often think I’m much younger than my age. I’ve found I have to be very straightforward with them to be taken seriously. I have a senior female engineer as my mentor, with whom I often discuss ways to overcome these challenges and she provides guidance.

During my wide range of work experience with several employers over the years, I have encountered some challenges along the way like dealing with unsolicited male advances, having men talk over me, and not being taken seriously.

Do you feel women are treated/respected as equals with men in your field?

What I have realized over time, again and again, is that women tend to underestimate and doubt themselves despite knowing more than what they give themselves credit for. This may sometimes show up as seeking reassurance from others in the form of feedback or experiencing imposter syndrome. On the other hand, I think men do have self-doubt but they do not necessarily seek reassurance. Unfortunately, as a result, women appear inferior to their male counterparts and generally end up having to work harder to be recognized and treated as equals.

Have you seen the role of women in your career change since you started your job? If so, how?

In the past few years, there has been a steady influx of junior women engineers, a beacon of hope in this generally male-dominated field. Additionally, I’ve seen many women engineers stepping into senior leadership roles and believe more females will climb up the ladder/ranks in the not-so-distant future.

What is your advice for young women interested in a “male-dominated field?”

Don’t stop dreaming. Sometimes our path may not seem clear but when you keep pushing toward what you enjoy doing, life presents you with opportunities. Stay involved on and off campus as both give you important experiences. Do not doubt your talents and skills or feel inferior to the males in the field. Both men and women have unique abilities and perspectives to contribute, but women need to continue building a presence to make this field more dynamic.

Calendar of Events

Wesleyan College is privileged to steward many arts and cultural events and share them with the community. Most are free and open to the public. Wesleyan art galleries are open M-F 1-5PM and on Wesleyan Market Saturdays from 10AM-2PM.

Event listing

Visit our Campus

Tour our beautiful 200-acre campus featuring Georgian architecture, lush green spaces, recreational facilities, residence halls, and worship center.

Vist Wesleyan Virtually

NCAA Division III Athletics

Wesleyan College is home to five NCAA Division III sports: soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and softball. In addition, we offer an award-winning Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Equestrian program.

View More

Join our email list