International Women in Engineering – Dipali Pandya

Civil Project Partners is were proud to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on 23rd June 2023. The day is focused on celebrating the work women have achieved in Engineering and encouraging younger generations to become engineers in a predominately male industry.

We spoke with Civil Project Partners’ Dipali Pandya, Civil Estimator (and our newest employee), about what this day means to them.

What inspired you to become an Engineer?

“Since childhood, I had a natural inclination towards technology, science and problem solving and developed an early interest in subjects like mathematics and physics, which led me to explore engineering as a potential career choice. Engineering has the potential to improve people’s lives and contribute to solving real-world problems for a better future, so I was driven by the desire to make a positive impact on the world and engineering provides a platform for me to do so. I thoroughly enjoy the creativity in engineering and how the field is constantly evolving with advancements in technology, which enables me the opportunity to continuously learn and grow, which is fulfilling.”

Today’s theme is “Make Safety Seen” what does this mean to you?

“To me the theme signifies the need to prioritise safety and bring safety practices and awareness into the forefront, making them visible and ingrained in our daily routines and decision-making processes. I also believe it is important to cultivate a culture of safety within organisations, communities and society. It involves promoting a collective mindset where individuals are vigilant, proactive, and accountable for safety. This can be achieved by encouraging open communication, reporting of hazards or near-misses, providing adequate training, and recognising and rewarding safety-conscious behaviours. Another priority should be extended to mental and emotional safety, as safety extends beyond physical well-being and includes mental and emotional well-being as well. Creating an environment where individuals feel psychologically safe, comfortable expressing concerns or reporting incidents without fear of judgment or retaliation. It involves promoting mental health support, stress management, and work-life balance to foster a safe and supportive atmosphere.”

How has the engineering industry changed for women across your career?

“When I stepped into engineering it was a male dominated environment. Nowadays, more women are pursuing engineering degrees and entering the workforce and there have been strong efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, this has contributed to greater gender balance in the field.

Women were facing issues such as harassment and unconscious biases that may have hindered women’s progress in the past. Now, companies are increasingly recognising the value of diversity and the importance of providing equal opportunities for all employees and the visibility of successful women engineers and leaders has increased over time. Women in engineering are increasingly being recognized for their achievements and contributions, serving as role models for aspiring female engineers. This visibility helps challenge stereotypes, inspires young women to pursue engineering, and reinforces the message that engineering is a viable and rewarding career for women.

Even with these improvements, I can still see challenges that women face in the engineering industry. Gender gaps in certain engineering disciplines and leadership positions still exist, work-life balance, unconscious biases and cultural norms can still impact the experiences and career progression of women in engineering. That is why days like International Women in Engineering Day continue to be important as we face these challenges and make further progress into the future.”

What female engineering role models do you admire?

“Hedy Lamarr: While primarily known as an actress, Hedy Lamarr was also an inventor and engineer. She co-developed a frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology during World War II, which later became a key component of modern wireless communication systems.

Mary Jackson: Mary Jackson was the first African American female engineer at NASA. She made important contributions to the field of aerospace engineering and played a significant role in helping women and minorities advance in the engineering profession.

Gwynne Shotwell: Gwynne Shotwell is the President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, a private aerospace manufacturer and space transportation company. She has played a crucial role in the company’s success and is recognized for her leadership in the aerospace industry.

Edith Clarke: Edith Clarke was the first female electrical engineer in the United States and a pioneer in the field of electrical power system analysis. She developed several important mathematical techniques and inventions that advanced the understanding and design of electrical power systems.

Dr. Mae Jemison: Dr. Mae Jemison is an American astronaut, physician, and engineer. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She has since been a strong advocate for science education and diversity in STEM fields.

These are just a few examples, and there are many more accomplished and inspiring women engineers and scientists around the world. Their contributions have not only advanced their respective fields but also paved the way for future generations of women in engineering.”

What advice do you have for aspiring female engineering students?

“Explore your interests: Take the time to explore various engineering disciplines and identify the areas that align with your interests and passions. Engineering offers a wide range of fields, including mechanical, electrical, civil, computer, aerospace, and more. Discovering what excites you will provide a strong foundation for your career.

Seek mentorship and guidance: Connect with female engineers or mentors who can offer advice, guidance, and support. They can share their experiences, provide insights into the industry, and offer valuable career advice. A mentor can also help you navigate challenges and encourage your personal and professional growth.

Build a strong educational foundation: Focus on building a strong educational foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Develop your skills in these areas and seek opportunities to engage in hands-on projects, internships, or research experiences that can deepen your understanding and practical knowledge.

Network and connect with others: Engage with engineering communities, join professional organisations, and attend networking events. Networking allows you to connect with like-minded individuals, build relationships, and learn from professionals in the field. It can provide valuable career opportunities and help you stay updated on industry trends.

Embrace challenges and be resilient: Engineering can present challenges, both technical and non-technical. Embrace these challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Be resilient and develop problem-solving skills to overcome obstacles along the way. Remember that setbacks are a normal part of the journey, and perseverance is key to success.

Seek out opportunities for hands-on experience: Look for internships, co-op programs, or projects that offer hands-on experience. Practical exposure will complement your academic learning and provide valuable insights into real-world engineering practices. It will also help you build a strong resume and make you more competitive in the job market.

Be confident and believe in yourself: Have confidence in your abilities and believe that you belong in the field of engineering. Don’t let gender stereotypes or biases discourage you. Remember that diversity is essential for innovation, and your unique perspectives and experiences as a woman can contribute to the field in valuable ways.

Pursue lifelong learning: Engineering is a field that constantly evolves. Stay curious, embrace lifelong learning, and stay updated with advancements in technology and industry trends. Seek opportunities for professional development, attend conferences, and consider advanced education or certifications to expand your knowledge and enhance your career prospects.”

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