Thoughts on equality and being a woman-engineer

We both traveled from Thailand to study in a male-dominated field at Chalmers. This is why we came to the realization that we don't want to be called "women engineers". 

We are Grace from Software Engineering and Technology and Jidapa from Automotive Engineering at Chalmers. For International Women's day we will interview each other about our views on equality, our role models and dreams for the future.  

What was your inspiration going into this field? 
Jidapa: When I chose mechanical for my bachelor and automotive for my master’s as I was really into F1. When I watched it as a child, I could almost feel the driver’s adrenaline rush. I also liked the way that the team put in an effort to build the car from scratch. Back then, there were not many women in the motorsport field, but I still felt like I wanted to be a part of it. 
Grace: Technology is convenient but also a two-edged sword in my opinion. People can be consumed by the convenience of it and become lazy. I chose to study Software engineering and Technology at Chalmers because I wanted to know how to wield technology in a way that made life easier rather than let it take control of me.

What’s it like being one of the few women in class? 
Grace: Being the only woman in my class doesn’t put any pressure on me since the guys in class are respectful and don’t treat me differently. They see me as an engineer, just like they are and everyone is friendly to each other. We all strive for the same thing, to attain knowledge and skills in our field, so everyone is equal there. 
Jidapa:  Personally, I never think about being in the minority of the class. I have gotten used to it since I studied for my bachelor. At Chalmers, people are respectful regardless of your gender, and I feel safe voicing my opinion here. Also, sometimes when I struggle to do something with tools or when we have laboratories that need extra strength, my male classmates are willing to help me.
Who are your role models? 
Grace: Katherine Johnson (pictured to the left), NASA’s “computer”, is responsible for plotting flight paths of some of America’s earliest space exploration expeditions like Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting. She once said “I don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better.” She inspires me to try my best to prove myself, but also to stay humble. 
Jidapa: Since I am really into motorsport I came across a great woman that inspires me. Her name is Leena Gade (pictured to the right). She is the first female race engineer who won 24 Hours of Le Mans and is the ambassador of the FIA, the organisation for world motorsport and motor cars. She inspires me to think that no matter what your gender is, you are capable of doing technical and cool stuff like a man and that motorsport is a place for everyone.

What is your dream job?
Jidapa: I always dreamt of being a race engineer, but it is difficult since you must be super good at both technical and theoretical engineering. Moving to Sweden to study Automotive engineering was a big step for me to pursue this dream. Now I will have a better chance to be close to the motorsport field and I think that I will have more possibilities to find work where I can design vehicles more freely.
Grace: I want to be in a start-up that creates a technological solution that could save the world from climate change.  I have always loved to explore the balance between nature and technology. However, technology in my home country is seen as something that leads to environmental destruction. That is why I chose to study in Sweden, since the main theme here is sustainability, but with the help of technology.  

What are your thoughts on being a woman engineer? 
Jidapa: I have worked as a design engineer in the automotive industry in Thailand. Back then, there were not as many women in the workplace. Sometimes, we felt judged by our male colleagues that our work quality and solutions were not as good as theirs, which only made me want to prove them wrong. However, I think that industry is more respectful and welcoming to women in the engineering industry now. The rate of female employees is rising and they have proven their skills well in their field, that is what earns respect from others.  
Grace: I think woman are more empowered now. Especially in Sweden, people are being more aware of gender equality in the workplace. I was never discriminated or disdained by my classmates or colleagues because this is the 21st century where gender does not determine your worth or skills. I would like to be looked upon as an engineer, not as a 'woman engineer'.

What is the importance of equality? 
Grace & Jidapa: We know that women are as competent as men are. We believe that we are detail-oriented, creative, and problem solvers. Being a woman in the engineering industry can lead to more possibilities that stem from the diversity of thoughts and instinct. We would love to see a world where all engineer positions have an equal ratio of both men and women. 

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Page manager Published: Fri 08 Mar 2019.