• Azimeh

Girls in Technology

A lot has happened to encourage girls to pursue a technology and engineering education, and a lot more needs to happen before everyone realises how amazing would be to have more girls in technology, science and engineering. I have been on this journey and it was not an easy one, but I want to make it easier for younger ones.

Two girls enter the Hardware Engineering lab and the boys who have arrived a little earlier, whispered "this is not a place for girls". They were intentionally loud enough so the girls could hear them. The two girls who were almost 19 years old at the time and the only girls in engineering class that year, looked at each others' eyes and they became embarrassed and in doubt whether they should step in the lab or not.

Without exchanging a word, they made a decision, we are going to go in and work on our assignment. "We have as much right to use the lab as they have" was the thought which went through their head in silence. It was not particularly easy to get in there and work on the lab assignment that day. They were filled with doubt, they had to succeed in the assignment, their fear turned to increased focus to succeed. The next time they were stepping into the lab, they didn't bother listening who said what, they had enjoyed the first lab assignment and now their enthusiasm was bigger than their fear of embarrassment.

Ride the Excitement for Experimentation

Focusing on excitement for experimentation is the greatest source of power to overcome adversity and become resilient in the face of less encouraging words.

Low number of the girls in technical fields in universities, and technical positions in industry doesn't encourage the girls to see their own dream in front of their eyes to get encouraged and continue with technical fields. There are still very few chief technology officer (CTOs) in big companies. One thing is to encourage the girls to follow their curiosity for experimentation and technology, and the other is to let some who dared to enter the lab, take bigger technical roles, and why not the CTO role.

What about if the same type of boys who tried to intimidate the girls and have the lab to themselves are not in leadership positions deciding who should be the next CTO. What about if they have locked the door and not letting the technically savvy women nearby the CTO positions. I believe the same rule applies, when the enthusiasm for experimenting is bigger than the fear of rejection, there is no way to prevent progress.

Great Women as Technical Professors

Having role model females in highly technical position would encourage the girls to see a great future career and enter the engineering fields. Having technical professors in engineering department in university, plays a major role in keeping the excitement in engineering girls. I recall my professor in Electronics in university was a woman ( Dr. Tabatabayi ) whom I will always admire in my heart. She probably had more impact on my journey that I ever thanked her for. She was pretty serious and almost scary in the classroom, but her words were also supporting when I was going to her office asking a question and her eyes were smiling, I could feel that she trusted my ability and that was a gift in otherwise less encouraging environment.

Obviously it is a chain effect, more women in engineering departments, as professors and department head, will encourage more engineering females and the more female engineers entering the industry will help break the ceiling for women to take tougher technical roles such as chief technology officer in big industries which in turn will encourage the girls to pursue the engineering fields in universities.

More female engineers in the industry eventually will break the ceiling for women to reach CTO roles in big industries

Inspiration and Guidance

Having been through this journey, I have arrived at the stage of my life that I sense the duty more than ever to help and be a guide for the younger ones. What if my daughters or grand daughters have to deny their passion for experimentation and engineering field because they don't see enough role models. What if the same is the case for your daughters or grand daughters, I am sure you care.

These days I spend part of my time to as a mentor for young women in technology and engineering field and it is more rewarding that I thought. Interestingly, the challenges, the fears and doubts are the same as what I had to experience many years ago!

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