Stereotypes are, unfortunately, a natural way of life. However, I have noticed the stereotypes of women in engineering fields evolving. With policies like Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, many women now have the opportunity to prove that they have the same abilities as men. Indium Corporation is one company that practices these policies.
It is not uncommon for me to walk into other engineering companies and be one of only a handful of women in the entire building. Luckily, I have noticed growth in this issue over the years and I am confident that long from now women and men will have equal opportunities and roles. There has already been a significant growth in the population of women in engineering fields where women have even become leaders of their engineering communities. Some of these women are:
- Dr. Renee Horton: Lead SLS Metallic/Weld Engineer for NASA
- Marillyn Hewson: Chairman, President, and CEO of Lockheed Martin
- Leanne Caret: Executive Vice President of Boeing; President and CEO of the Defense, Space, and Security division of Boeing
- Jeanette Epps: Astronaut for NASA
I think that the major problem with the lack of women in STEM fields is the intimidation of being different and feeling alone, surrounded by the opposite gender. Programs in STEM are doing much to encourage women and minorities to study in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and math. Twice, I have attended the American Physical Society Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) where topics of discussion included role models of women in physics and engineering, ways of succeeding in a field in which I am a minority, and ways to boost my confidence and resume. Programs like CUWiP are great at encouraging young women and girls to pursue fields in STEM.
Throughout high school and undergraduate, I never felt or was told that engineering was something that was only a man’s job. I never noticed the stereotype until my first interview with an engineering company. Things that were said to me in the interview were, “You will be working with a lot of men. Do you think you can handle that?” And, “You will have to get your nails dirty, you know.” It was the most discouraging interview I have ever been to but I learned a lot from it. Since, then I have grown the confidence to portray myself differently in the field and adjust my interviewing style. Finally, I found a great company where I do not feel less than anyone because of my gender and can be comfortable with being myself. Indium Corporation sets a great example of an engineering company that has no stereotypes. What I like about my job is that I do not feel like I stick out like a sore thumb - like I would at many engineering companies. When I walk about the floor, I see just as many women as men - doing the same jobs.
There is still a lot of convincing to do all around the world to change the way stereotypes are portrayed. But, by spreading awareness of the inequalities, the world could prosper and minorities could receive the same opportunities as others. It should not be long before there is growth of women in all engineering fields.