In the summer of 2015, Isis Anchalee made international headlines. After appearing in a campaign advertising her company’s engineering team, Anchalee had been inundated with comments about how she was too pretty to be a software engineer. And, thus, #iLookLikeAnEngineer was born.
Of course, Anchalee is far from the only woman engineer in the world. Jasna Velickovic is a QA automation engineer at technology services and solutions company Comtrade, and gives us some insight into being in the minority in her work.
What made you want to get into engineering?
I was lucky to discover what I love very early on. Ever since I was a young girl, I have been fascinated by computers. I was always eager to learn more about how they work and was amazed by the possibilities they provide us.
As the years progressed, I became more and more sure that my career would be in engineering. In primary school, I participated in as many IT competitions as I could, and spent most of my time trying to learn more, taking on additional courses even if they weren’t graded.
So, my choice of career was just a case of me following my interest. I couldn’t see myself in any other field.
Are people surprised when you tell them what you do for a living?
Many people still regard engineering as a man’s job, so every so often people do express surprise. But that is slowly changing, and young women now consider engineering as a viable career path. Many of the successful and capable people I work with are women.
In my opinion, when you do something you like, you shouldn’t care about what other people think. Your example and success will prove them wrong in the end.
How does it feel to be working in an industry where you’re in the minority?
The people that surround you are what’s most important and I have never felt that my voice wasn’t being heard because I’m in the minority.
Many women find themselves surrounded by men in the workplace. But if you are professional, competent and represent yourself and your skills as best you can, people will appreciate that and look at you as an equal part of the team, not a minority.
What needs to happen to make engineering more attractive to a broader variety of people?
I think the first step is to make engineering more transparent – break stereotypes and help everyone realise its potential.
Open days for students, science fairs and hands-on work experience can have an enormously positive impact. People learn when they meet like-minded people who can talk to them about their own experiences and inspire them with their success story.
And most important is to show people that engineering opens up so many career possibilities. There’s always something new happening – it never gets boring.
What advice would you give to others who don’t fit the engineer stereotype, but want to pursue engineering as a career?
Just 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.
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