Celebrating Women Building History: Eirene Knott
By: Catherine Vinson, Test Administration Manager
In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to take some time to get insight from Eirene Knott. Eirene is an MCP and has been in our industry 30+ years. Her experience is invaluable not only to women in the industry, but to anyone who is looking to further themselves and continue to grow. It was a true honor to get to speak with Eirene. As a professional woman trying to balance family, work, and other obligations I personally find her advice invaluable. Here are some of Eirene’s top tips.
Prove yourself to YOURSELF first, then to others
Sometimes, we can focus on proving our abilities to others. It’s easy to spend so much time trying to convince others that we are good at our jobs that we tend to base our idea of success on how others feel about us. Research shows that women are often less self-assured than men. When confidence can play as much a part of success as competence, this can present unique challenges.
Eirene let us know that one of the biggest contributors to her success was believing in herself. “I had to overcome my self-doubt, especially as a woman. I found that it took longer to do that than to prove myself to men.”
Eirene relayed a story of one of her first on-the-job experiences: “I walked up to a job site where a man was installing a chimney. I heard him say, ‘I guess they are dragging up the bottom of the barrel now.’” When I heard this story, the modern woman in me recoiled. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in a short time.
She was determined, though, to win him over. She wasn’t going to let this comment get her down and instead decided to use it as a learning opportunity. “I wanted to prove myself to him. If you have a defeatist attitude, you will be defeated, so I wanted to take this as a chance to show him I was good at my job.”
Despite the initial interaction, Eirene went on to build a relationship with that individual. She regularly encountered him on jobs and focused on spending time getting to know him and learning from him. This dedication to relationship building changed the perception. While many women may worry about being labeled as bossy, she wants to stress that it’s about more than that. “It’s all about relationships. Build relationships, and people’s perceptions will change.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
One of the Eirene’s biggest piece of advice is something we can all take to heart. “If I had known what a mentor was earlier in my career, I would have found one sooner.” Finding someone who you look up to and want to be like is an important way to gain expertise and get advice. She encourages, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
One story she shared was when someone she looked up to made the small gesture of offering her a seat at a Code Committee Hearing. It was something very small, but it helped build a relationship and mentorship. She insists this is indicative of the kind of personalities that attract people to our industry. “Our industry is made of people who want to go out of their way to help people. Any time I’ve asked someone for help or to be a mentor, their answer is always yes. You can’t be afraid to ask someone for help.”