AddedMonday, August 6, 2018 at 11:19 AM

what is it like being a female on the job as a chemical engineer?

I’m planning to start school to become a chemical engineer. I’m 21 with a 2 year old son. I’m worried I won’t be able to be there for him. I’m also worried that I’ll be constantly intimidated with working with men. Is it a lot of heavy lifting? What is the work like? How are internships? Every day I self doubt myself and consider changing my major but at the end of the day I end up looking up chemical engineering. I guess I’m just nervous or scared that I won’t be good enough or that I won’t be physically able to do this job. I’m kind of a girly girl and I’m only 110 pounds. I love hands on work and really feel like this is what I should be going for.
Related to Chemical, Opportunities/Challenges for Women, Preparation for College, Self Doubt, Social Concerns, Unique Challenges, Work Environment
  • Tricia Berry , The University of Texas at Austin
    Answered Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 8:31 AM
    Chemical engineering is an extremely broad field where you can impact our world, create products and process that improve lives, and work in just about any industry out there. You’ll learn how to problem solve and how to figure things out in engineering school and will be more than prepared to head into the engineering workplace. We all often fall prey to the “imposter syndrome” and feel like we’re not supposed to be here…but that’s normal. Recognize that feeling and force yourself to step back into the “I do belong” and “I can figure this out” mindset. You’ll find that engineering workplaces are full of people who enjoy working together to solve problems and are more than happy to mentor new employees and help others be successful.
    Chemical engineers work in a variety of environments and it can vary based on your interests. Engineering is not about physical strength, but about mental strength and the ability to figure things out. Don’t worry about your size…engineers come in all shapes, sizes and personalities! My career path included working in process design where I designed the processes to manufacture chemicals, to research where I worked on developing new testing methods for products, to new business development where I worked with customers testing our products in their systems and in their products. I have worked in offices, corporate and university labs, and a production environment where I was often out in the chemical plant. Depending on what environment best suits you, you can find a chemical engineering job to fit. 
    Again, we all have doubts along the way. That’s normal. But know it’s an amazing community to join! Get involved in or find a mentor through the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Women’s Initiatives Committee or the Society of Women Engineers to find a community of women to help support you and help combat those fears. There are many people out there ready to support you and help you be successful in whatever you choose to do.