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SDOT Women Paving the Way | Meet Marilyn Scott

Women’s History Month may be over, but we’re going to keep sharing stories of SDOT’s talented, brave, strong, and determined employees who are making our city safer, opening paths for others, and fighting for a more equitable city.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Marilyn Scott 

Marilyn is a strong, hardworking, dedicated, and fun-loving woman who has been with the City of Seattle for over four decades!  

She was born and raised in Seattle and raised her family here. She loves dancing, baking, bowling, and is eager for the days she can share a meal with her siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and parents when it is safe to gather together.  

Forty-two years ago, Marilyn was one of the first Black women to work on a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Street Maintenance Crew. Today, she’s a Street Maintenance Supervisor and oversees two crews and all street maintenance projects north of Denny Way. 

In the late 70’s, Marilyn learned that the City of Seattle was encouraging more women to apply for crew positions that were historically male-dominated. Her father, who worked at the Seattle Center, and her sister both encouraged her to apply. She applied and was offered the role, and now has been with the City for more than four decades!  

It wasn’t always easy being one of the few Black women working in the crews, but Marilyn’s strength, perseverance, and work ethic helped carve out her career path at SDOT.

On her own time, Marilyn took classes at South Seattle College to learn how to drive trucks to become an out of class Truck Driver at SDOT. Years later, she took classes there again to become a Crew Leader. Nowadays, SDOT offers most of these trainings on the job, but in the 80’s and 90’s employees had to do the trainings elsewhere to be considered for promotions. That didn’t stop Marilyn. She started as a Laborer, became a Truck Driver, then a Dispatcher, then a Research Evaluation Assistant, then a Crew Chief, and today, a Field Supervisor.  

Marilyn with her family, coworkers, and Mayor Durkan at a gathering in 2019 to celebrate her 40 years with the City of Seattle. 

Hi Marilyn, what do you love about your role as a Street Maintenance Supervisor?

I love working with the Crews, guiding staff to reach their potential, and helping them advance their careers within the City of Seattle.  

I’ve been with SDOT for a while now. Over the years, I’ve had to overcome barriers when applying for a promotion. I had to figure out the system each time, prove myself, and I’d eventually land the job. Experiencing and overcoming those barriers motivates me to help others break through them. I share my experience to give others the tools to better navigate the systems. I try to equally share advancement opportunities and make sure staff know what they need to do to land the new job.

Marilyn (fifth from left wearing a black hat) with coworkers and Mayor Nickels (fifth from right wearing suit) in the early 2000s.  

Tell me about a defining moment in your professional journey.  

A defining moment for me happened when I became a Crew Chief in the mid 1990’s. Being Crew Chief gave me the confidence to not only lead staff in day-to-day tasks, but also help staff grow professionally. I helped them succeed to new and advancing roles like becoming Truck Drivers and Crew Chiefs, and I saw that I could make a difference in people’s lives.

I also saw how I could make a difference in the community. Potholes and other transportation-related issues are reported more often in affluent neighborhoods. It’s not necessarily because there’re more potholes in these neighborhoods, but it’s because people living there are more familiar on how to report issues. In other less affluent areas, people infrequently report potholes, not because potholes don’t exist there, but because people aren’t as familiar with available reporting tools. It was important to me to make sure we gave those communities the same amount of attention we were giving others that were more vocal.

Whats the best career advice you’ve ever received?  

  • Whatever you do, give it your 100 percent.   
  • Don’t stop learning – keep learning. 

How do you think identifying as a woman has impacted your career? 

I’m not going to lie, early on, it was hard being a Black woman in my field. When the City started hiring more women into what we’ve known to be traditionally male-dominated roles, the men at the time, weren’t always as accepting.  

My father and mother always instilled a don’t quit mentality in me, and I’m not a quitter. I needed a job, I knew I was good at my job, and I was making a good income. I wasn’t going to let the negative folks get to me. And forty plus years later: I am still here! 

Those experiences motivate me to spread opportunities fairly to everyone. I want women and people from all backgrounds and identities to know that they are welcomed and appreciated here.  

Marilyn (second from left with red hat) with two Crew Chiefs she supervises and north Seattle tool room coordinator.

Is there a woman you admire professionally or personally, and why? 

The person I admire the most is my Mom. She raised nine kids and instilled in each of us a drive to never give up and always go after what we want in life. 

I also admire Rosa Parks because she fought for the right to have a seat when she was tired. My struggle is the same as hers, and she never gave up. I, too, won’t give up. 

Even though March is over, we’ll continue to share SDOT employee stories throughout the year.  

If you haven’t yet, take a look at other SDOT Women Paving the Way blogs and meet KenyaShaneNinaMildredKaren, and Kristen