International women in engineering day 2020

with Estela Carmona-Cejudo, research student with the school of engineering and digital arts.

What are your specific interests are in engineering world?
I studied communication systems engineering which is my main field of interest. But my interest is not limited to this field only! When I first started university, I initially considered going into mechanical engineering, aircraft engineering or computer engineering.

The current theme for INWED2020 this year is #ShapeTheWorld, what does this mean to you?
It means that we should make the most of every opportunity to make the world a better place that works for everyone. As women in engineering, this means for example to do our best to address bias against women and ethnical minorities in the workplace.

What were your original career goals? Are you in that position now or have you found yourself in a different position? Why did you choose to become an engineer?
The concept of engineering is beautiful, for me it means using the power of knowledge to make the world a better place. I always imagined myself constantly learning and developing new ideas, in a very enriching and diverse environment, and enjoying every single day at work! I decided one good way to fulfil these goals was to get into research. I am a researcher now, and I quite like my job. I have achieved many of my goals and have many more in mind. But my advice to others is that, while your focusing on achieving your goals, don’t stop enjoying the journey there.

What are the highlights of engineering?
When you study an engineering degree, not only will you benefit from getting the technical knowledge. You will also gain a set of “soft” skills from which you will benefit enormously, at work and in your daily life. For example, we as engineers develop a very good ability to solve problems, which can be applied in so many situations.

How has your experience been when attempting to get into the field of engineering?
I was very lucky and I landed my first job within days of finishing my degree. If you show passion and commitment, it’s only a matter of time that someone will offer you that first opportunity.

What would your advice be to anyone considering starting a career in engineering?
Ask yourself what being an engineer would be like. Do your fair amount of research about what you’ll be studying, the kind of job you could be doing in the future… Then ask yourself whether engineering suits your personality and skill set, and whether you would enjoy working in engineering. If the answer is yes, definitely go for it!

Do you find that there a gender bias in the world of engineering? If so how do you address the bias?
The gender bias is society-wide, although it is more evident in male-dominated environments like the world of engineering. I’ve encountered gender bias myself a few times! For me, the key aspect to overcome it is not to let it affect your self-esteem. If you are passionate about your job, you will eventually reach your goals. The power is within you. Even more, your achievements will contribute to challenging this bias and turning negative perceptions towards women into positive ones.

How important is it to you, that women lift each other up and what does it mean to you?
We all benefit enormously from having a role model, or a mentor, from who we can learn. If this mentor is a woman, we surely can relate to many of her biased-related experiences and learn from them. We as women can lift each other up by being emphatic about each other’s situations, and of course by helping our colleagues to challenged biased behaviours.

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