How can a women thrive in a male dominated field?
I am going into engineering. I understand that my college classes and workplace will be dominated by men. I would like to know how I can assert myself and no be intimidated. #engineering #women-in-stem
First, engineering a great career for everyone. I have been an engineer for 35 years and during that time managed local and national engineering groups. Over past 10 years women have made significant progress, not only being welcomed, but also bring desired on engineering teams. When I addressed my staff I made no distinctions between men and women. I stress confidence, seeking peer opinions, working accurately and doing as much as one can, especially when a new challenge is presented. I promise that if you consider yourself an engineer first (gather than a female engineer), work accurately, efficiently, and as a team member you will be accepted. The women in my group were every bit as good as the male engineers. Your fellow engineers, along with your customers and resources will respect you for your knowledge, work ethics and interpersonal skills. Diversity in engineering teams is always a good thing. There a good numerous female engineering societies and groups that can help if you like participating in groups. Good luck and I think you will make a great addition to any engineering team.
Simon recommends the following next steps:
Hi Molly, great question!
For me, finding confidence in those situations came with time and experience - the more I felt I knew about a topic, the most likely I was to ask questions if I didn't understand some part of it. It can be difficult as a minority, because you probably already feel like you don't belong in the space and that people think less of you, so asking a question or asserting an opinion seems risky - like you'll be confirming a negative bias. Try your best to push past that though, and with time it gets much easier!
I also want to echo Adrian in saying that you need to build up a support system! I'm part of a great group of female engineers at work, and whenever one of us has a concern (am I being assigned only the busy-work? am I being overlooked for a promotion? am I being constantly interrupted in meetings?) we discuss it together and figure out a plan to fix it (talk to a manager, HR, etc).
Confidence in yourself is important, but confidence alone won't make you successful due to the biases that work against women in engineering - this article does a great job explaining why: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/09/women-workplace-confidence-gap/570772/ .
Good luck! We need more women in engineering, so stick with it!
Your success in any career area, regardless of gender orientation, is directly related to
the time and effort that you take to
- identify the career area for which your personality traits are best suited
- appropriately prepare for that career area
- keep up with current education and training relating to that career area
- develop networking connections beginning with your initial education and continuing through your career development.
Here are some tips that will help you to achieve success and fulfillment in your career.
Ken recommends the following next steps:
You really have to have confidence in yourself, know your stuff inside and out and do not be afraid to seek help and/or ask questions. For me what really helped also was having a core group of guy engineering friends who would help me and have my back, and joining the Society of Women in Engineering (SWE), as they can definitely assist you more in this area.
Adrian recommends the following next steps: