June the 23rd is ‘International Women in Engineering Day’ (www.inwed.org.uk). Anders wish to help to correct the perception of. and present the reality of, what it is like to be a women working in engineering. In this interview, Jihye Kim, NPI Quality Engineer, presents her view.
Q: Jihye, what can you tell us about yourself?
A: I am originally from South Korea, where I studied electronics and electrical engineering at Yeonam, South Korea. I am very fortunate, as I spent the majority of my 20’s travelling across Australia, the Far East and Europe. This not only gave me time to consider how I wanted to apply my qualification, but I learnt a great deal about just how big, yet small the world is, and how different our cultures are, yet how similar we all can be. It was a wonderful experience, and I’d encourage anyone and everyone to take time out to explore the world, be curious, and learn from others. This journey taught me a lot of skills that I’ve transferred into my role at Anders
Q: It sounds like you are a very active and busy person, so what is your current role in engineering?
A: After taking time out post-studying to travel the world, I have been in full-time employment as a Quality Engineer for the past six-years.
The role of Quality Engineer will vary from organisation to organisation, but within Anders, what that means is, that I am involved from the development stage of the production lifecycle, where I assure quality is built-in by reducing potential risk during the design and engineering process. At Anders we Design For Manufacture (DFM), therefore we want to optimise the product performance during the initial design stage to ensure we are confident to transition the product and process from customer approval into the manufacturing environment. Quality control naturally transitions into production as we look to continuously improve, enhance, streamline, and leverage off of our years of experience and know-how into corrective action plans to elevate our performance.
Q: What about your recent achievements and challenges in your chosen career?
A: When I joined Anders, I actually had no experience in the design, development, or engineering of display and embedded technologies. It was all new. But it’s that catch-22 right? How do you get experience without a job, and how do you get a job without experience? Again, lady luck was shining on me as Anders is an open-minded company, one that likes to invest in their people via an incredible hands-on education.
I won’t lie, it was a significant challenge for me to learn about display and touchscreen technology whilst on the job, however, it was also one of my largest career achievements to date. It’s such an interesting industry, across many diverse market segments. We hold knowledge of such a wide range of industries from the high-reliability fields of automotive, marine and medical, to industrial and consumer. Size, layout and formats all vary, from the large form factors through to small handheld devices. I feel very fortunate that Anders has taken me up the learning curve, as I genuinely believe that I’m more multi-skilled and multi-disciplined than I would be in most engineering roles.
Another neat thing is that I can actually point my finger at the technology we develop, that’s always a great conversation with friends.
Q: What inspired you to go into engineering and what inspiration do you find to keep innovating?
A: It’s in my blood! I spent the majority of my childhood in my father’s car repair shop. I used to build fairy castles with components and restoration tools were my makeup kit!
It was natural for me to go into a career in engineering. From an early age, I used to spend hours fixing things, or retro engineering them. Taking them apart to see how they worked and then challenging myself to put them back together correctly. I must have been a nightmare for my parents! The sense of ownership and pride that you feel when you witness the first product, that you’ve been part of the creation journey of, come alive in the field is one that never leaves you. The adrenaline rush is addictive when you hear people discuss the technology that you’ve been part of bringing to life. I constantly want more, more, more, of that good feeling, and as Anders are the brand leaders in what they do, that need is satisfied on a regular basis.
Q: Do you feel that engineering is a male dominated field?
A: Yes, I can’t deny that. As an engineer the stats speak for themselves. Only 10 – 20% of engineers are women in most geographies. However, looking at this positively, these numbers are growing. Speaking from a personal perspective, I used to only have a few female engineer friends, and now I have more, so things are looking up for us women in engineering.
Q: What does International Women in Engineering Day mean to you?
A: Whilst it feels great to be recognised and appreciated as a woman engineer, we engineers do tend to work in teams, certainly we do at Anders, therefore I’d like to give recognition to engineering as a profession regardless of gender. Let’s celebrate our achievements together.
Q: Why do you think it is important to encourage woman into engineering roles?
A: When you are in this industry, you can physically see that technology is facing a lack of diversity, and studies have shown that this can limit creativity to a certain extent. Diversity is good for inventiveness; I appreciate this from the time I spent travelling. A mix of genders, race and age brings more ideas, more life experiences, different angles, and this can only be a good thing to improve innovation in technology.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in engineering?
A: Yes, that it’s better than you can possibly imagine, and different to what you may think. It was a difficult decision for me personally to pursue a career in electronic engineering, as a lot of my peers would state; ‘that’s a man’s job.’ They meant well as they were thinking about my social circle, and the lack of female friends. I was once even asked if I could even carry heavy weights! But the reality is that these perceptions all stem from misconceptions and inaccuracies. It’s all a stereotype. So, don’t listen to what other people say, have faith in yourself and your abilities and go ahead, be a female engineer. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be.
Q: What do you think workplaces should do to encourage more women into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)?
A: Career days are a great channel to help raise awareness of women in engineering to students. I think we should continue to educate the next generation about the reality of the workplace environment and how diverse it can be. Anything we can do to remove barriers and knock down walls to deliver the correct picture of women in engineering will help girls to feel more welcome to embrace the possibility of a career in STEM.
Q: Lastly, what does Anders do to attract and retain women in engineering?
A: Quite simply, I see first-hand that Anders is an equal opportunities employer. It’s about getting the best candidate for the job, regardless of age, race or gender.
Anders Electronics plc. is a display and embedded display design specialist, dedicated to making electronic touchscreen technology safer, simpler and more enjoyable to use. For further information, please visit our website at https://www.andersdx.com/.