Women in engineering
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10 career tips from some of the best women in engineering

7 Mar 2017

Not only is it Engineers Week, but tomorrow (8 March) is International Women’s Day, so we’re giving you some expert advice from women at the forefront of engineering.

Two years ago, identity management company OneLogin published a billboard with one of its software engineers, Isis Wenger, front and centre.

The billboard was challenged online, with many people questioning whether Wenger was a model and not an actual software engineer.

This led to the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer going viral on Twitter, with women from all over the world following Wenger’s lead, showing the world what proud women engineers look like.

Women in STEM has, and will continue to be, a long discussion for those desperate to solve the diversity issue.

And while there are plenty of individuals and organisations advocating for women in STEM and attempting to close the gender gap, the negative assumptions that sparked #ILookLikeAnEngineer are still difficult to destroy.

However, the team at Siliconrepublic.com is never one to shy away from such a challenge and to celebrate Engineers Week and International Women’s Day in one fell swoop, we’ve gathered some essential advice from ten women at the top of their engineering game.

Méabh Doyle, process engineer at Bristol-Myers Squibb

Do your research by attending university open days and find out as much information as possible about the various engineering disciplines, speak to people working in industry about engineering careers and, above all, believe in yourself!

Victoria Kenny, engineer at Version 1

Go for it. If you are good at your job and show an aptitude for engineering, nothing should stop you from achieving your goals. Be prepared to meet some obstacles. But if you ignore the fact that you don’t meet the stereotype of a typical engineer, others will be forced to ignore it too.

Joveria Baig, electrical engineering PhD student at Tyndall National Institute

There’s no better feeling than waking up every morning and doing something you enjoy and making a difference to the community at the same time. Learning can sometimes be a tough process, but it is completely worthwhile and can be very exciting. And, with the support of your mentors and colleagues, many doors can be opened; not just in research, but in industry also.

Laura Stroe, software engineer at Intel

As a software engineer, you have to be both an engineer and an artist. As an artist, every software engineer wants to be original and their code to be unique. Like with music, which has a limited number of notes that are arranged in a scale, software engineering is limited by the syntax and capabilities of the language in which we are writing our code. But you can create beautiful compositions. It is challenging, as long as you get this freedom to create.

It is logic and when you make mistakes, you can easily undo them. We all know from primary school that we learn the best lessons from our mistakes. So, the more software you write and the more mistakes you make, the more you learn.

Jasna Velickovic, QA automation engineer at Comtrade

Work hard on your personal development. If it’s what you want and what you find interesting, believe in yourself and forget about any stereotypes. Your knowledge and skills are the most important things. It’s what you do and how you do it that will make you a good engineer.

Siobhán Brennan, engineer at Version 1

Don’t give up. Like any career aspirations, you have to work at them. This is especially true in IT when there are so many exam and certifications requirements.

Sylvia Lu, engineer at U-blox

Follow your heart and go for it! It’s nothing to be scared of – it’s a path that many people have pursued and enjoyed, and I know that it can bring fulfilment, confidence and success along the way. Be an engineer, for the good of society and the world.

Raluca Petruc, software engineer at Asavie

With the expansion of the industry, many new roles have been created, and others have been reassessed and reprioritised, so there is a constant need for people with different backgrounds and, ultimately, views and perspectives.

Niche roles require open minds and flexibility, besides the tech skills. Sometimes it’s not enough to be an expert in an area; you need to see the big picture (and turn into a coding kraken-like creature – okay, maybe not that. You’ll scare your co-workers).

Ramona Marfievici, computer engineer at Nimbus Research Centre

Pursue your passions and what challenges you. That will keep you going when the going gets tough. Don’t ever let anyone stop you from pursuing your dream and it will pay off. Be confident and keep trying.

Yes, engineering can be an extremely challenging field to pursue, and there are going to be bumps along the way during the learning process, but trust yourself. Every engineer started off in exactly the same position you are in. Just continue to be curious!

Barbara McCarthy, director of engineering at HubSpot

[Be] able to see yourself in a role. Most of the roles we’re talking about are titles you have to apply for, so when women starting out in their careers see other women in prominent roles, they’re more likely to pursue the next level because they can picture themselves there. It’s the good kind of peer pressure.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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