Women in Engineering - Debunking the Myth
I know exactly what you're thinking. This myth has been debunked a long time ago, so why is it still such a big deal? Well, the sad fact is that women in engineering remain a rarity to this day.
It’s not too long ago that I walked into my first lecture, I remember it to this day, “Engineering Maths” at De Montfort University. I opened the door and, as you would expect, I was the only female. I went in prepared for the sight, but I don’t think many of those lads, sat in the auditorium waiting for the lecture to begin, were. Let me tell you something, it’s the easiest way to meet people! I was however pleasantly surprised when I moved to Imperial College for my master’s degree. It must have been a ratio of one to five, not great but most certainly improvement. And that’s how my journey as an electronics engineer began.
Fast forward four years, several exam-related panic attacks and two degrees later and it was time for me to get a job. “That student loan won’t repay itself” is what my inner voice kept on telling me. So I listened and applied for a graduate position in high-power electronics. A start-up in Cambridge with great potential. I learned a lot during my time at Amantys, most importantly that: high-power electronics + malfunction = big bang! I joined Amantys with a female mechanical engineer, so I was delighted to see that even in the industry women were slowly breaking through.
A year and a half later, I joined the automotive world; where the voltage is lower, and the explosions are smaller! Amongst five engineers, I was the only female. It wasn’t until my third year when the department grew, that another woman joined the mechanical engineers. I stayed at Truck-Lite for exactly three years before deciding that it was time for a change. That’s when I joined RPD International.
I consider myself an extremely lucky person. I have been offered the opportunity to work for three incredible companies and build a good portfolio for myself. But which one stands out the most, you ask? That’s easy, RPD. I know what you’re thinking again (I should have been a mind reader), but no, I’m not biased. Life at RPD is never boring. One day you could be working on a solar-powered asset tracking device and the next a luxury pleasure product – if you catch my drift. You can be involved in R&D, consultancy or you could be delivering designs for mass manufacture. It’s never the same which makes it so enjoyable. The free coffee and biscuits help, I’m not going to lie. I’ve also found myself working with some other great women. Not to steal the thunder away from the incredible things some of the men here have achieved, but the women are making a difference. Our engineering manager is also female, which is different to what I have experienced so far, but equally amazing.
Seeing how I’ve just started my 6th paragraph, I’m going to bring this article to a close. (I blame the Greek philosopher genes for having the ability to put down so many words). I could never be anything else other than an engineer, and I’m very thankful that my gender has not been a limitation in achieving this. I can only hope that the mentality of engineering being a “male-dominated” profession will change soon and see more women pursuing their technical but not impossible dreams!
Louiza Loizou is an Electronic Engineer at RPD International in London