Women in Engineering: 6 骑士视频 Leaders Reflect On Challenges and Opportunities

_ 骑士视频<_ 骑士视频
__ 06/23/24 10 MIN READ_
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International Women in Engineering Day, which happens each year in late June, is an opportunity to reflect on the progress that the field of engineering is making to become more diverse and inclusive, and to take stock of the work that is left to be done.


While parity in the workforce has yet to be achieved, real progress is being made. For example, globally today, just 29.2% of all STEM workers are women, according to the World Economic Forum&) and watch the Space Shuttle Endeavour land. My first engineering job was at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and after seeing so many cool aircraft and being surrounded by amazing engineers, I was hooked!

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a woman leader in engineering?
Truly I haven’t had very many unique challenges due to being a woman. There have been instances, though, when I was a young female manager on the manufacturing floor where employees would explicitly ignore me or ask me to “find a real engineer.” I think the bigger challenges came when I became a mom and struggle with trying to be present for my kids while still being dedicated to my career.

Beena Pande
Sr. Manager, Software Delivery Project Management

For Beena, what she finds most exciting about this field is the opportunity to work closely with people while adding value to her team. After years of focusing on the technical side of things, now, she thrives in empowering her team to excel while connecting with customers to better understand their needs.

How do you personally empowerment or mentorship your teams?
I believe that leadership is about fostering a supportive environment where everyone can thrive. My personal journey from coding to management has been about blending my technical skills with a passion for building strong relationships and teamwork. It’s this combination that keeps me engaged and motivated in my career every day.

How do you balance work and personal life in a demanding field like engineering?
Balancing work and my personal life in the demanding field of engineering requires a disciplined approach and effective prioritization. I strive to maintain equilibrium and fulfillment in both my professional and personal realms. I dedicate time each day to carefully prioritize tasks and this has been instrumental in maintaining harmony between my career and personal obligations. This ensures that I allocate sufficient time for both family and personal pursuits.

Cynthia Daines
Manager, Hardware Engineering Operations

Cynthia didn’t intend to pursue engineering, but her interest in aviation ultimately led her down that path. Before arriving at 骑士视频 in 2016, she worked for Airbus America Engineering, Jamco America, and Star Aviation.

Across her career, Cynthia has been a major supporter for girls and women in STEM, and believes strongly in women’s advancement and solidarity across the workforce.

How have you overcome gender biases or stereotypes in your work environment?
Unfortunately, we experience stereotypes no matter where we work or what industry we work in. Who hasn鈥檛? I鈥檓 a woman with a Southern accent. A lot of assumptions are made.
As a manager in engineering, I strive to increase flexibility by offering flexible working and destigmatizing shared parental leave. I work towards shifting our organization’s mindset by assessing workers’ performance on their delivery and achievements, rather than time spent in the office.

Looking at the future, how can we encourage more girls and young women to pursue STEM fields?
Give them a healthy environment to learn and be around other girls with like minds. Design engagement strategies around what is currently considered popular. If you conduct a coding class, advertise it within the context of the latest trend, like apps for fashion or the latest games, like Roblox or Minecraft.

What do you think are the most exciting opportunities for women in engineering in the future?
The sky is the limit. Us women are breaking barriers and paving the way for driving successful goals and development strategies, so when the next generation is ready to take up the mantle, it will be easier for them than it was for us.

Diana Jiang
Senior Manager, Software Engineering

Engineering is in Diana’s genes. With two engineering professors for parents, she grew up taking things apart to see how they worked. After earning her degrees in electrical, electronics and computer engineering, she set out on an impressive career path that ultimately led her to 骑士视频 in 2013.

How do you think women are perceived in engineering work environments?
The stereotype is that women can鈥檛 manage the work. But, that is certainly not true. Keep pushing. Take the emotional part out and lead by example, to show our colleagues what we can handle. We are making great progress. We can do it. Be persistent.

What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in engineering?
Passion is key. There are so many fields鈥攕oftware, hardware, digital design, kernels applications鈥攕o expose yourself to more areas to understand your place. Don鈥檛 question yourself; give yourself a chance, and don鈥檛 be afraid to make mistakes. Be confident and assertive.

Have you experienced any moments of empowerment or mentorship from others in engineering?
Yes. Absolutely. I鈥檝e gotten a lot of advice from our PAC leaders. PAC is much more diversified, and women leaders are here to allow us to collaborate, contribute, and make people happy. Knock on the door and make yourself available.

Mehrnoush Zare
Manager, Engineering

Growing up with three brothers, then pursuing materials and mechanical engineering academically and professionally, means Mehrnoush has been living in a man’s world most of her life. That experience has given her incredible insight into not only the challenges women in engineering must overcome, but also how women can use their life experiences to drive performance and make workplaces stronger.

How would you summarize your experience as a woman in engineering?
It can be uncomfortable working in male-dominated fields鈥攐perations to manufacturing, casting to metal forming, factories to oil fields. Overcoming these challenges demands having a voice and trusting yourself. Believe in yourself and what you bring to the table!

What advice do you have for women considering engineering careers?
Follow your heart, be connected to your core self, and don鈥檛 judge yourself or change who you are. Be open to growing and learning.

As a manager, how do you correct for gender biases in the workplace?
Focusing on results and outcomes, as well as thinking about what each person on the team brings to the table. Everyone on the team should have a reason for being there, so I like to encourage people to ask themselves, “Who am I, and what value am I bringing?” This encourages people to feel empowered and come to work with a sense of purpose and mission.

Melina Blanchet
Manager, IT Project and Process

Although Melina isn’t an engineer herself, she works with engineers every day to create products, processes, and solutions that support the company’s core lines of business. Over her 20-year career, she’s overcome biases and challenges by embracing the skills that make her an expert problem-solver.

How did you get started in your career path?
I was really good at math. My school counselor advised me to consider a career as a math teacher or in accounting, but neither intrigued me.
I wanted to be part of the creative process, but I was not an engineer. I evaluated my strengths: I was good at working with people, I had great problem-solving skills, and I was a big-picture thinker. This ultimately helped me decide that my contribution to innovation would be as a project manager. I prepared myself through a combination of formal education, professional development, and hands-on experience.

What has it been like for you as a woman in a male-dominated field?
It hasn鈥檛 been easy. I鈥檝e addressed negative comments when I鈥檝e encountered them but I don鈥檛 let it knock my confidence. I’ve earned the respect of my colleagues by always being prepared and doing my job well.

Through the years, I鈥檝e also learned to empower myself by choosing the seat at the head of a conference table when walking into conference room, by speaking up in meetings, and by not being afraid to disagree and say no. However, my career spans over 20 years and I no longer focus on how I want others to see me. Instead, I aim to cultivate an environment where everyone has a voice and where individual contributions hold a lot of value.

What initiatives or support systems have been helpful to you in your career?
I have been fortunate to work with great people who genuinely wanted to see me succeed. Their support and encouragement have been instrumental in my professional growth. I am especially thankful for Kevin Abbott, who consistently empowers me with development opportunities, from advanced training sessions to challenging projects that push me out of my comfort zone.

Attending events, such as SoCalCIO Inspiring Women鈥檚 breakfast, has provided me with opportunities to network with other women. I also attend workshops, enroll in online courses, and stay informed on current topics to maintain and enhance my expertise.

Puja Gupta
Sr. Manager, Machine Learning

From a young age, Puja Gupta was drawn to the dynamic and ever-evolving world of business. Her father steered her toward engineering which she quickly embraced. She pursued a degree in computer engineering which provided a strong analytical foundation. She later complemented it with an Advanced Project Management certification from Stanford University.

What captivates her most about this field is the constant stream of challenges. Every day brings new problems to solve. Navigating these issues successfully, whether big or small, gives her a deep sense of pride, passion and fulfillment.

How have you overcome gender biases or stereotypes in your work environment?
Navigating gender biases and stereotypes has been a significant part of my journey. Early in my career, I encountered situations where my capabilities were underestimated simply because of my gender. Rather than letting these biases hinder my progress, I used them as motivation to prove my skills and dedication. I focused on consistently delivering high-quality work and sought out mentors who believed in my potential. By building a strong network of supportive colleagues and mentors, I was able to create an environment where my contributions were recognized and valued. Over time, my perseverance and results spoke louder than any stereotype, helping to break down barriers and pave the way for other women in the field.

What initiatives or support systems have been helpful to you in your career?
Several initiatives and support systems have been instrumental in my career development. Firstly, mentorship programs have been incredibly valuable, providing guidance, feedback, and encouragement from more experienced professionals. These relationships have offered me insights into navigating workplace dynamics and advancing my career. Additionally, participating in professional organizations and attending industry conferences has allowed me to network with peers, share experiences, and stay updated on industry trends. Furthermore, companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion initiatives create a more supportive and equitable work environment, enabling women to thrive. Finally, continuous learning opportunities, such as workshops and training programs, have helped me to develop new skills and stay competitive in my field.

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