What is the best advice that you have for women hoping to excel in the engineering field?
#stem #steam #engineering #women-in-stem #career #business #materialscienceengineering
I would say, don't think about it too much. You WILL run into people that try to put you down because you're a woman... but that's really not as often as you'd think. Most people you'll interact with are nice people. In school you'll form a camaraderie between classmates because school is difficult. Then in the workforce there are more and more women going into engineering everyday, you won't be alone. Basically, just try your best, be confident, and don't let people tell you you can't. Because you can! I am happily working in Aerospace with no problems. If you do run into problems, don't take it personally, and move on. If you know you can do it, then that's all that matters :) Good luck!
I’m so happy you asked this question! I work in high tech and am often the only woman in the room. I also lead an employee resource group at my company that connects women so we don’t feel alone.
Overall, having diversity on an engineering team is a business imperative - look at this McKinsey study of women in STEM (https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/closing-the-tech-gender-gap-through-philanthropy-and-corporate-social-responsibility) Evidence based research has shown a public company’s stock price goes up with females leading. YOU ARE THE GAME CHANGER! Never under estimate your value as women in engineering.
So what do you do when you get there:
First, find your Wolfpack or Girl Gang. These are the people who support you no matter what. They also give you straight talk to keep you focused. They give honest feedback and you do the same to make each other better. Look for them. I promise you will recognize each other.
Second, find your male supporters. These are the guys that sit in meetings and will say “what do you think Katie?” They’ll support you by repeating your idea/point AND give you credit for it. He'll sound something like this... "I like what Katie said about...(insert your idea here)". They’ll often clear the floor and hand you the mic.
Third, find your female mentor or sponsor. This gal is at a higher level than you. She’s seasoned and has journeyed through the jungle with a machete. Don't just ask "will you be my mentor". Set up meetings with her, have lunch with her, ask her for advice. Ask her to connect you with others, but also give something back. Share what your working on. Then help her make connections if you can. Get crazy and teach one of your hobbies if she's interested.
Last, Be. Fearless. Speak up in meetings, speak up when you have an idea, concern, question. 9x's out of 10 others are wondering the same thing. People will notice your fearlessness. Say bold things. Share bold ideas.
Those of us in engineering are waiting for you. We have shoulders for you to stand on. We can't wait for you to join us!
Be bold and carry on.
First, believe in yourself and your capabilities. Be willing to learn. Study hard so that you can be very good. As you reach the college level and decide which engineering discipline you would rather be in, start to research different technical certifications that would be good to have. This will help build your credibility. Do internships before graduating college because this helps you to get real world experience. And finally participate in as many STEM events as possible.
I would suggest getting involved in peer groups. There are all sorts of women in tech clubs and groups you can join that will give you access to people who have the same career path as you! A great place to start is "Girls in Tech", follow them on LinkedIn and learn how and where to get involved!
Congratulations on being interested in becoming an engineer. It takes a special person to enter this field and meet the demands which this career area presents. The first step is to get to know yourself to see if you share the personality traits which make engineers successful. The next step is doing networking to meet and talk to and possibly shadow engineers to see if this is something that you really want to do, as a career area could look much different on the inside than it looks from the outside.
Ken recommends the following next steps:
I don't know the engineering field. As a woman who entered law enforcement in 1984, and successfully made a career of it, I think the thing that helped me the most was to stop thinking of myself as "a woman in law enforcement," and simply see myself as " a police officer." When people need an officer, or an engineer, it does not matter if it is a man or a woman. What matters is their skillset. That being said, always be the best you can possibly be, because, unfortunately, any time a woman enters a nontraditional field, people will judge all women by that one person. They will say, "see, that's why women should not be cops." Don't be "that woman." We need you to lead the way!
Best of luck!
The best advice I can give you is never accept "No" for an answer. As a women in a field dominated by men you will hear more often than not the words "No" or "you can't do it" so I challenge you to get out there and show them you can. Because, You can do it!