Make Room for Female Engineers
NORTHRIDGE, CA- Women CSUN Engineering Students are striving for a better future while working in a male-dominated field. Alexandria Chavez is a grad student at CSUN. She’s studying Engineering Management and working for Lockheed Martin Corporation as a project engineer.
She originally majored in Math to become a teacher for middle school students, but realized public education wasn’t for her. Chavez’s goals changed.
She decided instead to study Manufactural Systems Engineering for her undergrad. At the time, the Manufacturing department had small classes and a great support system, which contributed to Alexandria changing her major.
She recalls the time when she and her classmate were the only two females in the entire class.
Chavez asked herself, “Woah, is this how it’s going to be for the next four years?”
The answer was a yes, in most cases. But, Chavez says she always carried a positive attitude in school and at work. She has never been afraid to ask questions. She says the only way to succeed was by believing in herself.
Chavez also came across people who didn’t think she was smart enough because she was a woman and some even questioned if her degree was real.
She says at work some people assumed she was the office secretary or the minute-taker. But Chavez says she never let those people get away with those beliefs without first standing up for herself and making a proper introduction, while also introducing the other engineers who were her colleagues.
Fatima Serrato is studying Mechanical Engineering for her undergrad degree. She followed the steps of her older sister by becoming the second female engineer in her family.
Serrato was encouraged to become an engineer because she loves math and working in teams. Her older sister also told Fatima that engineering needs more women.
She remembers how she was the only woman among 19 men in her programming class during her freshman year.
She says, “You’d think that this is such a big campus. There has to be more girls.”
Serrato says there’s nothing wrong with having classes with males, but sometimes she was intimidated by the number of men in her class. She didn’t feel comfortable being the only woman in her classes, but that never interfered with Serrato’s dream of becoming an engineer.
Serrato says there’s a female engineering club called the Society of Women Engineers for women studying the field. She says it’s good the club provides a support group for future and present female engineers.
Teny Shahjahanian is majoring in Engineering Management. She has always had a passion for engineering. Her whole family are engineers and that motivated her to pursue the same field as her family.
Just like the two other females interviewed, Shahjahanian realized that the guys in her classes aren’t so bad.
She says, “You just have to find the right ones, who aren’t too cocky.”
Shahjahanian explains how it’s about perseverance and having a good support system that will push you and keep you going. She’s happy about seeing an increase in female engineering students at CSUN. Shahjahanian encourages other females who are hiding behind other majors to give engineering a try and not be intimidated by the stigma of, “Only males can be engineers.”
She says, “branch out to females.” Shahjahanian hopes more females take a stance and become future engineers.
Shahjahanian’s dream is to work for Tesla.
Video Credit: As/Is
Video Credit: Kimmy Chacon
Kimberly Chacon talks female engineers:
By: Kimmy Chacon
Photos: Kimmy Chacon