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Feature Questions

Were you the only girl in the room?

I’ve heard some engineers say they were the only woman in a class or club in college, or after college on a project or team at work. Has this happened to you? How did you deal with standing out like that and not having any other women around?

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Here you can ask those questions you still have about engineering careers. Read profiles of practicing engineers in the I'm An Engineer section and ask someone a question directly, or submit a question here to have EngineerGirl staff try to find the right person to answer you.

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  • Added Monday, February 4, 2019 at 7:16 AM

    FeatureQuestion.jpg

    I’ve heard some engineers say they were the only woman in a class or club in college, or after college on a project or team at work. Has this happened to you? How did you deal with standing out like that and not having any other women around?

    Answers 25
    Priscilla Bennett, Spire / Laclede Gas Company
    Answered 11 days AGO

    Not only in college classes, but also the work environment did I find myself as the only female working/teamed up with only male counterparts. When we learn to view others for the person, the talents, the traits, the contributions they bring to a ...

    Jamie Krakover, The Boeing Company
    Answered Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 4:15 AM

    I have been the only woman in the room before, but luckily it is become more rare as more women pursue STEM. It can alienating when this happens, but it's less about standing out (because you already do if you're the only woman) and more about making ...

    Answered Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 4:14 AM

    I was in college almost 30 years ago and, yes, I was sometimes the only woman in the room. But even then, it was fairly rare. I joined Society of Women Engineers as well as IEEE and many other clubs. I had the same goals as my other classmates regardless ...

  • Paula , Troy High School asked Patricia Galloway, Pegasus Global Holdings, Inc.

    Added Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 9:12 PM

    Hi! I'm a junior in high school and I'm currently enrolled in my school's magnet program and because of it I have been able to take a class that is very much involved with engineering. Very often than not I find myself very confused and discouraged in this class. I know engineering is something I aspire to work in yet being surrounded by so many people that know what they're doing makes me lose that confidence I have in knowing I want to be and engineer. My question to you is : Have you ever ...
    Answers 2
    Patricia Galloway, Pegasus Global Holdings, Inc.
    Answered 13 days AGO
    Discouragement can affect everyone at some point.  I was discouraged in high school when I told everyone I wanted to be an engineer and they told me I would "flunk out" and "fail" because I did not have the aptitude or the "smarts" to be an engineer ...
    Patricia Galloway, Pegasus Global Holdings, Inc.
    Answered Friday, December 29, 2017 at 4:52 AM

    My sincerest apologies for being so late in responding to your question. This past year has been a bit challenging for me as I have had some personal family health issues and am entering the next phase of my own career as I will be stepping down as ...

  • Qwynci Bowman

    Added Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 11:12 PM

    Is it possible at all the be an engineer when you don't fit the mold of one on paper? I believe I will excel in it but it's extremely hard to transfer to the engineering school at this point. Is it still possible for me to work in this field?
    Answers 1
    Lauren Gordon, State of California
    Answered 13 days AGO
    Hi Qwynci!
    
    Absolutely. In high school, I was told by two teachers and a guidance counselor that I did not have the grades or qualifications to become an engineer. And that I should consider another field. I broadened my search and found an out-of-state ...
  • Dolor, Vinna L. asked Margaret Byron, Penn State University

    Added Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 5:34 AM

    Cause, I had seen in my research that says that some companies don't hire many environmental engineers and it doesn't really apply. Thanks.
    Answers 1
    Margaret Byron, Penn State University
    Answered Friday, February 1, 2019 at 5:36 PM
    Hi Vinna!  Short answer: yes, environmental engineers are definitely needed.  
    
    One thing you might not realize is that the term "environmental engineer" applies to a lot of different scientific disciplines. My area of expertise is environmental fluid ...
  • Answered Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 9:01 AM

    Hi Angela! I apologize for being late in my response.

    My experience as an engineer has been a long road of learning who I am, what I want to do, and growth. There has been a lot of fun involved too. I love engineering because of the platform it puts you ...

  • Added Friday, December 21, 2018 at 2:25 AM

    FeatureQuestion.jpg

    I like being with people, but I don't like to be the center of attention or push for my own way. I like to think about things and work out details before I jump in with an answer. But I often hear that women need to speak up and be more aggressive to be successful in their careers. Is that true for women in engineering? I’ve also heard that ...

    Answers 29
    Maria Marenco, Robert Bosch
    Answered Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 12:10 PM

    You don’t have to change the way you are, no matter what you decide to study or where you work. What I think happens in these work areas where there are fewer men than women, is that you feel constantly insecure. Especially is you enter a new subject, ...

    Answered Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 12:44 PM

    No, you do not have to be really outgoing. It takes all personality types to make a really great team and teamwork is an absolute necessity to accomplish great things. Most of the engineers that I have worked with during my 20+ year career have been ...

    Nicolette Yovanof Little, The Boeing Company
    Answered Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 11:47 AM

    In my experience, the best engineers and leaders know their strengths and use them to their advantage in how they interact at work. You can still be an introvert and be a successful engineer, but you will need to find a balance of speaking up and ...

  • Saaimah Ali asked Gillian Montgomery, Buehler Engineering, Inc

    Added Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 3:41 PM

    how difficult was the physics aspect, and applying that to real life situations?
    Answers 1
    Gillian Montgomery, Buehler Engineering, Inc
    Answered Sunday, January 13, 2019 at 9:24 AM
    It may sound cliche but the most difficult part is working with different people and personalities. Like all aspects of life everyone comes in with different perspectives, experiences and personalities.  unfortunately the engineering part can be a lot ...
  • Lenza asked Gillian Montgomery, Buehler Engineering, Inc

    Added Thursday, September 13, 2018 at 6:12 AM

    I haven't worked in engineering field yet, and i don't know whether i can do structural engineering or not because i wasn't smart at college i was ok, i'm good at math, drawing and Auto Cad.
    Answers 1
    Gillian Montgomery, Buehler Engineering, Inc
    Answered Sunday, January 13, 2019 at 9:17 AM
    Hard is relative.  I found a passion in it, so it made the studying easier.  Maybe think about what part of math, drawings and AutoCad you like the best. Do you like understanding the deep theories  or crunching the numbers and using computers to help ...
  • Basil Mathai

    Added Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 1:59 AM

    I am Basil and I am an accountant with an accounting degree. I am not enjoying accounting as much as I thought I would and I have always wanted to do engineering but I couldn't due to the A level I chose. So is there any courses which allow me to study engineering even though I have an accounting degree?
    Answers 1
    Kelly Knight, Bechtel National, Inc.
    Answered Friday, January 11, 2019 at 8:39 AM

    Dear Basil,

    My Bachelor’s degree was in Mathematics. When looking for jobs, I found that I preferred engineering type jobs. Thus, I went back to school for a Master’s in Eng. This cost me extra time and money since I had to audit basic engineering ...

  • Mareka asked Ying-Ja Chen, Pronutria

    Added Sunday, December 16, 2018 at 12:34 PM

    Am I smart enough for engineering??
    Answers 1
    Ying-Ja Chen, Pronutria
    Answered Monday, January 7, 2019 at 7:24 AM
    It doesn't matter how well you score on exams to determine whether you can become an engineer or not. However, you should make sure that you understand the math and science concepts you learn in school. You will encounter more of those types of classes ...
  • Kristin Malosh, North Star BlueScope Steel
    Answered Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at 7:31 PM
    Hi Emily. I was pretty solid in my degree choice while in school. I wasn't sure exactly what job I would find afterwards, but I was fortunate to go into consulting to start out. Environmental engineering can take you in many directions, so starting in ...
  • Tanvir

    Added Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 4:02 AM

    Calculus is the main problem. How i can take steps to overcome that problem?
    Answers 1
    Kristin Malosh, North Star BlueScope Steel
    Answered Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at 7:24 PM
    Hi Tanvir. Calculus is definitely a TOUGH course. Even so, it is required for an engineering degree. Some engineering fields use the basics of calculus more than others. Depending on what specific job type you want within mechanical engineering you may ...
  • Beatrice Cunningham

    Added Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 7:55 PM

    Answers 1
    Kristin Malosh, North Star BlueScope Steel
    Answered Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at 7:16 PM
    Hi Beatrice- what a GREAT question. I bet you are practicing engineering every day, and just don't realize it! The best way to "practice" engineering is to solve problems. Find what interests you and challenge yourself to learn as much as you can about ...
  • Jay Tee asked Nita Patel, L3 Technologies, Insight

    Added Friday, August 3, 2018 at 12:48 PM

    Hi. My story is a bit unusual and may raise a few eyebrows. I was in my final year of my Medical degree (MD) and tbh, I failed (for certain reasons) my final exam. Worst phase of my life. I searched hard to find another uni to complete my MD but it was painfully difficult. I swallowed my pride and looked into some common alternatives like Biomed Sciences, Optom, Pharm etc. But I just couldn't see myself doing any of these as a career. One day I stumbled upon Biomedical Engineering. It intrigued ...
    Answers 1
    Nita Patel, L3 Technologies, Insight
    Answered Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 4:33 PM
    I don't think it's a crazy decision. Congratulations on making the change. You definitely have to enjoy (85%) of your career -- all jobs have some amount of work that just isn't fun but overall, you need to enjoy it. If you are excited about BME, you are ...
  • Added Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at 9:47 AM

    FeatureQuestion.jpg

    I do really well in school, but people get mad at me if I say anything about it. I don’t want to make people feel bad, but I’m also proud of my work. Have you ever faced this? If so, what did you do about it?

    Answers 10
    Margaret Byron, Penn State University
    Answered Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 8:06 AM

    I was lucky in that I never felt much pressure to pretend that I didn’t like science or math, or pretend that I wasn’t good at it. There was a year or two where I was pretty lonely, at the beginning of middle school, because other kids made fun of me for ...

    Jodie Lutkenhaus, Texas A&M University
    Answered Monday, November 26, 2018 at 3:20 PM
    I sure have, especially when I was in high school. However, I was reminded that high school was only temporary. I tried to keep my head down, do my work, and get through it. Once at college, I was able to specialize in chemical engineering, where ...
    Mekka Williams, NetApp
    Answered Monday, November 26, 2018 at 3:17 PM

    Unfortunately yes. This problem never goes away and can happen right in your own family. Here is my advice:

    • Stop hiding your intelligence immediately. You don’t have to play dumb. Sometimes you can just refrain from engaging directly in those ...
  • Abbey

    Added Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 9:05 AM

    Math so far has become easy to me it’s easy to learn and easy to master. I know how to do the problems but I can never remember the names. I want to become an electrical/robotic engineer. Is it crucial to know the names of the problems?
    Answers 1
    Elaine Weyuker, Independent Researcher and Consultant
    Answered Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at 4:58 PM
    Hi Abbey,
    
    Actually names of problems are not really important and, in fact, most mathematical problems don't have particular names so I would not worry about that. What is important to be a successful engineer of any type is your ability to understand ...
  • Nancy Post, John Deere
    Answered Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 9:11 AM
    Lauren,  
    
    I definitely use the Internet and books as resources.  If you are talking about building computers, I have also referred to other computers I've put together.  Use your personal preference and the resource that gives you the most valuable ...
  • Brooklyn asked Liz-Hasbleydi G., Tech + Desing

    Added Friday, December 7, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    One of my biggest struggles, is being taken seriously, especially by male. Do you have this problem? An if so, how do you handle it?
    Answers 1
    Liz-Hasbleydi G., Tech + Desing
    Answered Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 8:15 AM

    Hello Brooklyn, :)

    Nice to meet you. About your questions:

    Q: What do you think was the biggest problem you've faced throughout your journey?
    A: The biggest problem I have faced during my life from my childhood to the present in the area of technology, ...

  • Dylon asked Seetha Raghavan, University of Central Florida

    Added Friday, November 16, 2018 at 11:06 AM

    I am trying to show students how interesting Aerospace Engineering is.
    Answers 1
    Seetha Raghavan, University of Central Florida
    Answered Monday, December 10, 2018 at 7:16 AM

    Great question Dylon!

    When I was in elementary school, I found myself intrigued just watching airplanes take off and land. I lived close to an airport and went there every weekend just to watch - those were awesome days... I was curious about what made ...

  • CBliss asked Marnie Smith, LivaNova

    Added Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 7:24 PM

    The BA is in nothing related to engineering and I am only 3 years out of college and have already excelled in my field, but am bored out of my skull. I work at a job counseling people and then I come home and tinker and build things out of whatever I have lying around the house. I want a job that would let me design, build, and invent things for solutions to public health issues, but I am so paralyzed with fear that I have already ruined my life with that horrible decision to get a BA instead ...
    Answers 1
    Marnie Smith, LivaNova
    Answered Friday, December 7, 2018 at 2:22 PM
    You are not a lost cause!
    
    First, I want to say that I'm sorry that you were given such poor feedback and support that ultimately discouraged you from pursuing Engineering. This day and age, that is really unfair! Your journey does not have to end here. ...
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