International Women in Engineering Day, this year on the 23rd June 2017, is an annual celebration of the fantastic impact that women make to engineering internationally. It aims to recognise the women already working in the industry, and showcase the opportunities to future generations.
In support of this important day, Marine People and the IMarEST will be showcasing amazing international female engineers in our weekly blog. We want to demonstrate the diverse roles available within engineering, the career development opportunities, and provide some insight in to what it is like to be a female engineer in various parts of the world. We are passionate about showcasing the fabulous opportunities to women in maritime engineering, because we believe it is an exciting, varied and progressive career.
So, let us introduce this weeks featured engineer:
Maria Kouboura, Senior Technical Advisor at the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) based in London.
- How long have you been in engineering and what is your role?
I have been involved in the marine industry as a naval architect and marine engineer for the last 12 years. My role has varied throughout the years. I started as a junior consultant and assistant surveyor working on plan approval for new building projects, and on strength and stability studies, then becoming project leader for new builds. Five years later I was offered the role of the technical manager of the new building department at a shipping company, and I jumped at it without hesitation. In my current role as a Senior Technical Advisor in the IMarEST, I am leading on technical projects with an engineering and technology focus, and I am acting as Head of Delegation at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) committees and sub-committees.
- Why did you become an engineer?
I just wanted to prove that I could do it. I wanted to prove to myself and to others that there is nothing that I couldn’t do. Back then, I had to decide between medicine and engineering. There was this unwritten rule that women should follow medicine and become doctors, while engineering is mostly male dominated. I chose engineering, accepted the challenge and have proved everybody wrong.
- What are the best parts of your role?
Having to work to find realistic solutions, being pragmatic, use rational arguments and analytical skills. Finding the most cost-effective solutions is where the challenge lies as your brain must work non-stop!
- What challenges have you encountered?
Having others accept me. It was never easy and I had to work hard to prove myself. I was lucky to encounter people on my way that weren’t biased, but I had to work hard, and always keep always up to date. Once your opinion is valued, then everything becomes easier. But to get there, It takes constant effort.
- Why is it important to get more women in to engineering?
Women are practical. This is what engineering needs. Practical and logical solutions.
- What would you say to girls still in school who are thinking about engineering? How would you encourage them?
Just go for it. It may seem difficult and sometimes tough, but the rewards are fulfilling, and ultimately that’s what counts. You have what it takes, if you are willing to work hard and want to use your enthusiasm towards providing solutions, then engineering is the right path for you.
- What advice do you have for students just starting out?
Be open to what is challenging rather than going for the safe option. It is not a degree you are getting, but a life. I am sure that no one wants an unchallenging life full of boredom.
For more information on International Women in Engineering Day please visit http://www.inwed.org.uk/