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:
Ahsana Nabilah Choudhury, a final year Computing Student at Portsmouth University.
- How long have you been in engineering and what is your role?
I have been in the software engineering industry for two years whilst studying for my undergraduate degree in BSc (Hons) Computing. My current role is a Junior Business Solution Developer for a defence company in the UK.
- Why did you become an engineer?
I have always been interested in all things to do with technology from an early age. I remember designing my first website when I was eleven years old at an after-school computer club! My interest grew as the years went by, and I taught myself basic web development skills during my teenage years. It was then that I decided to pursue it further in my academia, and build a career related to it.
- What are the best parts of your role?
The best parts of the role would be learning new things. The technology industry is so dynamic and constantly growing at such a fast pace. There’s always something new to get involved in. I also love how creative my role allows me to be; the ability to bring peoples visions to life is so rewarding, and is what drives me to constantly achieve my goals.
- What challenges have you encountered?
The main challenge I have encountered would be the learning curve. Starting out, you may feel like you’ve been thrown into the deep-end because there’s so much to take in. However, this journey is not linear, and there will be challenges to face in many ways. This can feel so rewarding in the end because it helps to push you beyond your limits, learn new lessons and gain valuable experiences.
- Why is it important to get more women in to engineering?
Many of the historical figures in STEM are women: Grace Hopper (inventor of the first compiler) and Margaret Hamilton (Lead Software Engineer in the Apollo project) are a few to name. Despite this, there is still a large and visible decline of women pursuing a career in engineering. For the UK, the most recent Roehampton Annual Computing Education Report has stated that the intake of engineering students was at 5.5% in schools, and girls, ethnic minorities and low-income households were underrepresented. A prominent misconception of the engineering industry is that it is a ‘mans world’, so girls often feel nervous when starting out because of the huge gender gap. Representation is highly imperative, and the more people from these underrepresented backgrounds that embrace engineering, the quicker we will be able to dispute such claims. This is a world where everyone belongs, and it shouldn’t feel intimidating for anyone.
- What would you say to girls still in school who are thinking about engineering? How would you encourage them?
I would say to totally go for it!! The industry, the world and the future needs bright young minds like the girls in school. There might be people who roll their eyes and scoff, but never take it to heart. Remain ambitious and follow your passions, because all that hard work will one day pay-off, and your dream will truly become a reality. The digital age has given you a huge advantage because knowledge is quite literally at your fingertips, so utilise these online resources and grow: go to events, sign-up to online classes, share your work and connect with others. This industry has so many knowledgeable people who will happily guide you along your journey.
- What advice do you have for students just starting out?
It wasn’t so long ago that I was also a student just starting out, so my main piece of advice would be to invest your time for your future as much as you possibly can! Although life after graduating from education, or applying for internships may seem such a long time away, the time can pass very quickly. Find the career-building events that you enjoy, whether those are informal networking evenings over drinks and canapés, or daytime mock assessment centres and interviews to practise your skills. There’s something for everyone. Employers are interested in hobbies and how you spend your down-time, so be sure to spend some time doing what you love. As a student, you have the advantage of everyone understanding you don’t know it all just yet, so learn from your mistakes and don’t be shy to ask for help when you need it. Now is your opportunity to find out what you enjoy most in the industry, and pinpoint how to build a career from it, so embrace all areas to spot your strengths, weaknesses and what works for you.
For more information on International Women in Engineering Day please visit http://www.inwed.org.uk/