I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting many inspiring women while interning here at Femgineer. Over the weekend I met with a materials engineer named Pascale over coffee to discuss her experiences attending engineering school and pursuing her passion for materials science in Europe and in the U.S. She explained to me that a materials engineer’s expertise lies in the properties and behavior of materials under different conditions, along with the use of these materials in manufacturing and production. Pascale engineers the materials used to produce touch pads and other consumer electronics at Synaptics.
When I asked Pascale whether she thought the lack of females in STEM was a uniquely an American phenomenon, she agreed with my observation, and noted how in her home country in Europe, female engineers are no rarity. As both of us tried to come up with explanations as to why this could be, she mentioned she never felt alienated while working in her home country, for gender reasons or otherwise. Becoming an engineer was just another career track, little different from any other. But here in the US, she noticed the disconnect American women seemed to have with STEM-related topics. I asked her if she herself ever felt uncomfortable being a woman in the male-dominated engineering environment of the Valley. She drew from her past experiences and advised me, “Every workplace has a different culture. Don’t choose a company just because it has a big name and because you think you will be happy. Choose a workplace that matches your personality and where you are comfortable, for only when you are in a comfortable environment where you can learn from your teammates, will you be able to grow.”
Pascale spoke about how she dealt with the naysayers and doubters she faced in engineering school. She advised me, “When you face difficulties, both in school and in life in general, it’s easy to get caught up in believing you can’t overcome them. Ignore those negative thoughts! Believe in yourself and in your abilities. In school, you need to have a mind free of negative distractions. Only by having a clear mind, by trusting in your intelligence, can you set to learning the concepts you need in order to grow as an engineer.”
I will take Pascale’s message with me as I return to UC Berkeley this next semester. Many thanks to Pascale for sharing her insights and stories with me and for inspiring me to further move towards my goal of becoming a Femgineer.
Jasmine is a freshman undergrad at UC Berkeley majoring in Computer Science. She is a Hackers @ Berkeley club officer and also works as a webmaster at the UC Berkeley Boalt Law School. Jasmine is humbly inspired by the hackers and builders around her and is excited to learn more about the field. Not only does she like sharing her passion with everyone, but she wants to learn how to play the ukulele and says “Carpe diem! Seize the day. Also, I like bubble milk tea.”