What is needed for women to be interested in a career in tech as much as are men? It should be noted that frequently the cause of women closing the door on such opportunities are the various stereotypes around the subject, a lack of personal examples and, often, ‘manly’ job definitions heard in school. Among those is the subject of engineering, where meeting a female specialist is still much more of a rare occurrence than meeting their male counterpart.
The solution to the problem lies in the hands of the employers
HR representative Zivile Vikertiene works in the “Axioma Metering” engineering company. She offers a reverse comparison – for example, it’s very rare to encounter a male applicant in the field of office management. But is it really gender that determines competency in these fields?
Zivile claims that „Competencies of a specialist and created by being curious about your industry, determination and ambition. As such, I don’t believe that there are female or male occupations. Still, the society tends to gravitate towards gendered norms – girls get to play with dolls and boys get toy cars. This kind of social exposure codes the youth into choosing occupations that are more frequently associated with their gender, which causes a lot of them to be shut out of an activity they love.”
According to her, attracting women to the rapidly-growing field of engineering and companies that are experiencing a lack of specialists in this field should be the concern of the companies themselves – “Currently the job market is experiencing a high deficiency in many occupations, particularly engineering and IT. The first ones to take interest in rectifying this issue should be the companies looking to hire. By attracting more women to these industries we will naturally have more specialists available.”
Education or work experience?
“Women Go Tech” is also looking to change the current situation in the job market by helping women retrain themselves for career in tech. According to the head of the programme Ula Pociute, although the IT sector is gaining more interest from women, engineering is a less common choice.
Ula, heading this initiative, says that „there is a lot of talk on the opportunities in IT, however, very little of that is about engineering. Of course, a lot of these positions also require particular education, which means a bigger determination to change careers. However, such an investment is worth the effort – the rapidly increasing demand for engineering specialists results in the position being one of the best paid ones in Lithuania.”
According to her, among women participating in the “Women Go Tech” programme a lot of attention goes to the role of quality engineer, as it does not require specific education and is thus easier to retrain for.
HR specialist Z. Vikertiene adds that as a result of trying to resolve such a lack of specialists, companies are now more inclined to employ people with more work experience, rather than the educational background.
Engineer Simona is happy with her choice
Simona Ausiuraite works as a technical documentation engineer – she notes that hearing her career choice people on the outside tend to be very surprised, but around her at work such an attitude doesn’t exist.
S. Ausriute is responsible for devices’ technical documentation at “Axioma Metering”. She admits that “I studied automation and control in Kaunas Technological University. Although I was interested in engineering from a young age, in the beginning of my studies I doubted whether this was the right path for me – the modules were difficult, the amount of new information was massive and I really didn’t feel on the right track. However, as the time went by, my opinion changed and I realised that I made the right choice. I am very happy with my decision.”
Speaking about the nature of her job the engineer does not shy away from positives – “engineering is an endless field, constantly growing and changing, new technologies emerge, so you’re constantly learning. At the moment I am updating the technical documentation of new smart meters, trying to write up as clear a description for the customer as possible. Because I am part of a team of testers, I am also learning to test the different versions, and how to help my colleagues.”
What could women engineers advise other women, who deal with self-doubt?
S. Ausiuraite notes – it’s important to understand your personal strengths. “This job in particular requires meticulousness, focus and a high sense of responsibility – these are qualities that women definitely have! Determined work and kind, supportive coworkers make it easy to continue developing and reaching the goals you set out.”
Meanwhile, responsible for hiring engineers, Z. Vikertiene encourages women to try the careers they are interested in – “It’s time to pay attention to the talents of the new technological age and understand, and convince others, that gender equality has to exist for the benefit of all. It means both more encouragement during the early years for both boys and girls to try that, which interests them naturally. We are at the beginning of the right path and it’s as important as ever to make this journey towards change.”