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Overcoming the stereotype: women in engineering

September 6, 2017 | By | No Comments

What’s gender got to do with it? Naomi, our Nigerian Ambassador, didn’t think engineering could ever be an option for her until she found the right course at UCD, a BSc in Biomedical Engineering. Read her story and be inspired…

Engineering is for men. Everyone knows this. They are the only ones capable of handling such a high level of skill and prowess. Right? Wrong.

…I remember often thinking to myself that I could never study engineering, it is for smart people, no, for smart boys.

The first time the idea of engineering ever popped into my head was when I was about 14 years old and, frankly, I ran in the other direction as fast as I possibly could, casting such “foul”, “far-fetched” ambitions out of my mind. I remember often thinking to myself that I could never study engineering, it is for smart people, no, for smart boys. If I could imagine my future, being an engineer wasn’t in the picture. It was only a wild goose chase, and a very difficult one at that.

…this goes to every aspiring female Engineer out there. I urge you, let the only thing you are chasing be your dream, remember that the world is not for dictating aspirations, it is for realising them.

Years past and in my final year of high school I had to make a decision. Nothing seemed to appeal to me, engineering was not in the equation and nothing else seemed to be the right fit. One day, my friend and I were doing some more research on courses and we stumbled on the Biomedical Engineering course that University College Dublin (UCD) offered and she said to me, “Naomi, why not try this, it seems to suit you”. My head went blank but a small voice just said to try it, after all, nothing else seemed to suit me as well as my so called “rubicon crossing” of a degree path.

Engineering isn’t about gender or proficiency, it is about passion, the ability to think in a way that will change the world, in a way that is your own.

Long story short, I did try and I only have one thing to say: “so far, so good”. This is not to say that it has been easy for me, far from it, the course has been positively challenging yet thrilling at the same time. Honestly, I can’t see myself doing anything else anywhere else.

Ireland is basically a place where young and vibrant minds thrive, you can easily see this in its rich, lasting culture and the caliber of academics it hosts.

Studying in a place like UCD – where they not only make it their mission to track the growing population of women in engineering, but also applaud it in the welcome addresses during orientation, makes all the effort worth it. Ireland is basically a place where young and vibrant minds thrive, you can easily see this in its rich, lasting culture and the caliber of academics it hosts. Discovering this about the country made me want to stay even longer and helped me to pin point the crucial things in life which may sometimes seem insignificant or pointless.

It is here that I have realised that what makes an excellent engineer isn’t gender or proficiency, it is passion, the ability to think in a way that will change the world, in a way that is your own. Engineering empowers the mind, it feeds it, helps it to grow into things the world has never seen before as we have witnessed throughout the course of history. Truthfully, sometimes I’m overwhelmed, even right now as I type I’m overwhelmed at how much work awaits me. However, when I think of how I got here and what drives me, I remember that the reason I couldn’t fully visualise my future back then was because I was missing a crucial part of it, I was missing the part where I become a successful female Biomedical Engineer.

…don’t let one of the identities of your existence which is your feminity be your limitation, instead, let it be the tool that complements your resolve, helping you achieve the greatness that you deserve.

This blog goes out to every aspiring female engineer out there. I urge you, let the only thing you are chasing be your dreams, remember that the world is not for dictating aspirations, it is for realising them. You are what you set out to be, obstacles are only illusions that you create for yourself. All these I learnt pretty late, but I can’t say that I am not glad I learnt them because they formed the woman I am today. So be it engineering, computer science, aviation or any other degree path you may be interested in, if it’s for you, and you are passionate about it, then by all means go for it. The sky is not a limit, because there are many things beyond it, don’t let one of the identities of your existence which is your feminity be your limitation, instead, let it be the tool that complements your resolve, helping you achieve the greatness that you deserve.

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