A Women Engineer Writes to Her Younger Self

Hear the comments of women engineers – including thoughts women engineers would send to their younger selves.

Rob Spiegel

June 21, 2024

6 Min Read
International Women in Engineering Day
Gorodenkoff for iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

At a Glance

  • Inclusive teams foster deeper innovation and better solutions, Kamini Karunamurthy, content analyst at Accuris.
  • For women breaking into tech, I recommend finding good mentors early, Linn Foster, engineering manager at Exclaimer
  • Being proficient in new technologies gives you an edge over others, Chaitanya Bhandari, software engineer at Whatfix.

With International Women in Engineering Day on June 23rd, we decided to gather the thoughts of working women in engineering. As well as gathering comments from women engineers, we’re also presenting a video of women engineers writing letters of encouragement to their younger selves:

Here are some of the voices of women in engineering:

Kamini Karunamurthy, content analyst at Accuris

During my mechanical engineering studies, I found myself among only 10 women in a class of 150. While the gender imbalance might be initially daunting, a shared passion for engineering transcended those differences. This experience solidified my belief that a career path in STEM shouldn't be defined by gender, but by the fire of curiosity and the thrill of discovery that ignites within you. There's a universe of possibilities waiting to be explored in the vast landscape of engineering, and women hold the potential to be the architects of its future. Embracing this non-traditional path in engineering allows me to challenge preconceptions about the field and showcase the diverse skill sets that drive our industry forward.

I am passionate about advocating for diversity in engineering, believing that inclusive teams foster deeper innovation and better solutions. So, on this International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED), I encourage all young women to embrace their passions and pursue careers that ignite their imaginations. Don't be discouraged by traditional notions; the world of engineering needs your unique perspective and innovative spirit!

Related:Voices of Women in Engineering

Linn Foster, engineering manager, Exclaimer 

For women looking to break into the tech industry, the first thing I would recommend is to find good mentors early. Mentors can be found both within your organization and from without, and in today’s virtually connected world platforms like LinkedIn are invaluable. Connect with others, attend meetups and conferences, and participate in as many activities as you can. You’d be surprised how many “Women in Tech” groups there are out there, many with mentorship programs well worth exploring.

Diversity and inclusion in the tech industry are crucial. Organizations can better support women in engineering roles by ensuring internal policies support women, including flexible working policies, support for returning to work after maternity leave, and ensuring recruitment practices promote diversity and inclusion. Creating a welcoming and supportive environment for women, particularly in tech, is crucial for hiring and retaining women in the workforce. Organizations can also get involved in grassroots initiatives, such as collaborating with schools and universities to encourage young girls and women to pursue a career in tech.

Related:Managing an Engineering Career Through a War

Anne Lellinger, senior manager of Space Operations Training, SES

 Women with engineering degrees already know what it feels like to be part of a minority from their university classes. So, when starting your career in this field, it is important to keep the momentum in a dynamic technical environment. It’s critical, not only for women, to keep learning and expanding your skills, and look for companies that will recognize, support and value your contributions and continuing education.

Maya Kamath, engineering lead, Whatfix

From service companies to cutting-edge projects like smart TVs and pre-Google Maps navigation apps, I jumped at every chance to learn and build. At Whatfix, I climbed the ladder from mobile lead engineer to engineering lead. My journey hasn't been without roadblocks. In one of my previous organizations, a senior once advised sticking to “easier” domains as I was a newly married woman at the time. That encounter sparked my resolve not to be constrained by societal expectations. It pushed me to grow and find my own voice.

For today’s generation of women engineers, I would recommend embracing every experience as a learning opportunity. Diverse perspectives offer unique knowledge. Define your path – deep technical expertise, broad industry understanding, or even entrepreneurship. The key is understanding what your goal is, for your own growth, and what gives you joy. Chase your ambitions with passion – the engineering world is in need of your unique perspective.

Christine Gross, director of engineering, program management at Zilla Security

Diversity and inclusion in the tech industry are important to me because they ensure a wide array of perspectives, experiences, and talents are represented and valued. This diversity drives innovation by combining different ideas and approaches, resulting in more creative solutions and better products. On this International Women in Engineering Day, I am proud to be a woman in tech, contributing to a movement that is reshaping the future of innovation and technology.

Chaitanya Bhandari, software development engineer - II, Whatfix

International Women in Engineering Day is a chance to highlight the remarkable achievements of women in the industry, despite facing gender biases. Early on in my career, I encountered gender bias that cast doubts on my capabilities not only within the workplace but also from clients. As a result, I felt compelled to continuously validate my skills and capabilities, striving to go above and beyond what was expected of me, more so than my male colleagues. To navigate these challenges, I focused on building confidence in my skills and knowledge, which significantly transformed how I communicated, interacted with others, and performed my work.

My advice for women in engineering, or those considering a career in this field, is to be confident in your knowledge and capabilities. This confidence influences your communication, interactions, and work performance. Technology is constantly evolving, so it's essential to stay updated on emerging trends. Being proficient in new technologies gives you an edge over others. Additionally, taking end-to-end ownership can set you apart. By managing all aspects of a project from start to finish, you demonstrate your expertise, dedication, and leadership.

In an industry where we often need to work twice as hard to prove ourselves, it's crucial to keep learning, recognize your worth, and, most importantly, believe in yourself. Together, we can shatter the glass ceiling and push boundaries.

Papia Das, software development engineer, Whatfix

Thrust into the fast-paced world of technology in 2017, I navigated a new city and honed my UI development skills across three technologies. I have worked across multiple technologies and have continuously been pushed outside of my comfort zone. Now, at Whatfix, I'm three years deep, solving daily challenges with our product, and witnessing its market impact. A highlight of this journey has been contributing to the Product Analytics team's efforts, which earned us the prestigious 2023 POD award.

I believe challenges fuel my growth. My advice to aspiring women engineers would be to become fearless! Share your thoughts and ideas, and don’t hold back. Take on challenges and understand that they are essential for growth. Work persistently toward your goals – nothing will be handed to you easily, but with confidence and persistence, you can achieve great things. Ultimately success is earned.

About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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