NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Jocelyn Hayley

Dr. Jocelyn Hayley

I believe in bringing a different perspective into any creative process.

Professor, Civil Engineering
Senior Associate Dean (Research)
University of Calgary

Jocelyn Hayley (Grozic) is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, and Senior Associate Dean (Research) in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada. She joined the UofC in 2001, following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute in Oslo, Norway. She holds a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering (1994) and a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering (1999) from the University of Alberta. Dr. Hayley spent two years in industry and has consulted on various projects during her career. Her achievements have led to a numerous awards commending her research, teaching, and service, including recently being recognized as a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

There are so many parts of my job(s) that I love! Perhaps the very best part is bringing together people to create something new. In my role as a professor, this would be a meeting of my graduate students where we have lively discussions about the science of gas hydrates and come away with really neat ideas on research, or in my role as associate dean, it could be bringing together a multi-disciplinary team to build a proposal for a new way of gathering and delivering clean energy. I love seeing people engaged and inspired, being a part of that, having a hand in it, is the very best part.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

My research is in the general area of soil mechanics (geotechnical engineering), with a focus on sediments that undergo big changes when subject to temperatures and/or pressures. For example, gas hydrates, also known as "flammable ice" are an abundant source of natural gas found in submarine sediments and under the permafrost. I build gas hydrates into soil samples in the laboratory, and then study what happens when we reduce the pressure, let them thaw, or squish them to determine their strength. I also investigate permafrost soils, and what happens to roads, buildings, and the arctic coastlines when these soils thaw.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Students in geotechnical engineering often to on to work in technical consulting, studying how we can use soil and rock as an engineering material. They might study cold regions (arctic and even Calgary) areas, but also might look at how we can construct foundations for buildings, make earth dams (even frozen earth dams!), or how water and gas affect reclamation of waste materials.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

My work place is majority males. I believe bringing a different perspective into any creative process, and engineering design IS creative, brings significant value. Thus, I negotiate being a woman by truly believing that the skill set that I naturally encompass, which is often slightly different than my male colleagues, brings value to the team. By understanding and respecting my own value, as well as the values and opinions of all my colleagues, I believe we can negotiate most environments.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

First and foremost, I lead by example in showing respect for all people; a workplace built on respect naturally encourages diversity. As an associate dean, I also have the opportunity to pro-actively encourage diversity. This includes initiatives such as unconscious bias training for academic selection committees that highlight the value of non-traditional thinking and career paths and proactively encouraging recruitment of diverse candidates in all our research endeavours. I encourage students and faculty alike to really understand the importance of diversity in the creative process. Ultimately, my goal is to build a culture that really sees the value in diversity, where diversity includes gender, culture, scientific background and even ways of thinking or seeing the world.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

Role models are really important during the time when young girls begin to think about their futures. Anything we can do to get the word out that science and engineering is fun, creative, and makes a big difference in the world would be helpful. I would love to see institutions work with schools to ensure girls are encouraged to remain in key courses like Physics during high school to keep their university options open, or even offer admission to programs such as engineering using other science courses and run summer Physics programs

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

If you might be interested in science and engineering, try talk to someone in the general area that appeals to you. Most people are very happy to chat about how they got to where they are, and I am sure they will surprise you with all the neat things that they actually do. Ask your family, friends, teachers to put you in touch with someone.. Finally, do what you love - having a career that brings you joy and passion is the most important thing! Follow your dreams!

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

I have been lucky to have many role models and mentors throughout my life and career. Often it's not one person that is a model for all things, but a number of people that have inspired and helped me in different aspects of my life. Of note are my PhD supervisors, Drs. Morgenstern and Robertson, and my Postdoc supervisor, an amazing Canadian woman living in Norway, Dr. Suzanne Lacasse. The leadership at the University of Calgary, the changes they have made and their enthusiasm and energy for the University, are particularly inspiring to me - how awesome is it to work at a university with a female engineer as the president! Finally, my parents have been huge supporters of mine, my mom became a biologist in a time where there were few females in the field and taught me to get out and get my boots wet, and my dad's love for engineering and passion for his own career inspired me to search for my own passions.