KUCHING – The Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) encourages more women to pursue engineering as a career and advised them not to be discouraged by the challenges they face in the industry.
This was the message to more than 70 female students and staff who attended a talk on “Encouraging lady engineers in engineering” which was held at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus recently.
Students and staff from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Lodge School and Swinburne Sarawak attended the talk.
“We noticed that there are a lot of female students taking up studies in engineering but do not see the rise (in the number of women engineers) in IEM membership,” said Magdalene Tan, a speaker from IEM’s Lady Engineers sub-committee.
“We would like to see more women remain in engineering, and also to encourage female students to make a career in the industry when they finish their studies,” she said.
She urged students to examine why they wanted to study engineering in the first place and not to be disheartened by challenges in the industry. “Don’t be discouraged because of a little hardship. I am from KL but I have worked in places like Bau and Sarikei. I have three young kids at home at the time and I worried about them all the time,” said Tan who is now retired.
She added that these days, engineers have to go where the work is located.
Tan advised that as a student, one should study 80 percent of the time “but when you come out to work, you should have a good mix (of work, recreational and social interests).”
Tan said the Lady Engineers section of IEM organizes activities that are of interest to women, annually. “We have activities every year such as tea parties, flower arrangement classes, handicraft work, cooking and dancing lessons, and helping underprivileged children.”
Saying that “a lot of women study engineering but later become housewives,” Chin Lee Leng, the second speaker, urged the audience to “think about what you want.”
“I quit my first job because I only designed four-storey shophouses until I can do it with my eyes closed,” she joked.
Chin, who now runs her own engineering company and has been involved in major projects in the country, encourages women engineers not only to rise to the occasion but to go the extra mile in their work.
“As a woman, we are good at multi-tasking. We are able to juggle our tasks at home and at work. Let’s capitalize on this and make ourselves into good engineers.”
During the question and answer session, both Tan and Chin shared their experiences and gave tips, among them what employers look for in a potential employee.
Confidence, willingness to learn on the job, being a team player, ability to trouble-shoot, crisis management and good professional ethics were some of the qualities discussed.
The talk was jointly organized by Swinburne Sarawak’s School of Engineering and Science, and the university’s Women In Engineering and Science Society, a student club at Swinburne Sarawak.