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Spotlight on Women in Geomatics: Maggie Pitts

09 Dec 2019 5:22 PM | Anonymous

Maggie is a GIS Analyst with the Municipality of the County of Cumberland and has been since 2008. She underwent the Cartography program at the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) to accomplish her profession. Originally from Dartmouth, NS, she has been located in the Sackville, NB, area for the last 12 years. Previous employers include: the Nova Scotia Geomatics Centre, SNC-Lavalin, MapDrawer Cartography, and COGS.

The below Q&A will explore the obstacles that Maggie overcame, and the achievements that resulted, ultimately leading to where she is today:

Q: What made you choose a career in the geomatics sector?

A: I was looking for a career with good prospects that was fairly quick to achieve at a low cost. Returning to school as the lone-parent of my two-year-old son in 1999, practicality was forefront in my mind. That said, it also had to be interesting. The COGS Cartography program fit the bill and struck me as requiring a mix of creative and technical thinking, which really appealed to me. It didn’t hurt that I had previously enjoyed a drafting class and grew up poring over National Geographics.

Q: As a woman, did you recognize the barriers you faced in getting your career started? How would you describe them?

A: I started my career pretty quickly and easily, and have always felt quite lucky in finding great opportunities in the Geomatics sector. There were certainly hurdles, but nothing insurmountable.

Q: How did you manage to overcome the major challenges in your career and end up where you are today?

A: Being adaptable has probably helped me more than anything when things have been especially challenging or have taken an unexpected turn. Perseverance, an appetite to learn, and creating my own opportunities at times has carried me through.

Q: Do you think the geomatics sector needs to change to be more inclusive? How?

A: Certainly, the geomatics sector could be more diverse and welcoming. Raising the profile of geomatics as a career for all in earlier school years might help to capture a broader base. Also, we can all work to improve work environments and inclusivity as a whole, in any workplace. Recognizing and removing obstacles that might inhibit some from entering or flourishing any sector is important for the diversity of that industry. Leaving assumptions and bias at the door is a practice we should all develop.

Q: What advice would you give to women and girls who are facing gender barriers in their careers?

A: Dr. Mae Jemison said it best. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imagination.”

Q: What advice would you give to anyone facing challenges in their geospatial occupation, or entering the geospatial sector?

A: Find the geospatial niche that excites you most and run with it.

Q: In your experience, what can you say about the progress that has been made in the geomatics sector, and where it will go in the future?

A: It has been exciting to be part of such a quickly evolving technology! I see it becoming a bigger part of the technological tools used by non-GIS people to make better decisions.

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