Focus: Women taking centre stage in engineering
Marking Women in Engineering Day, today, 23 June, product inspection business Mettler–Toledo celebrates some of the female engineers within the business.
There can be no doubt that women are starting to represent a higher proportion of the science and engineering workforce. However, any increases follow on from very low starting points.
According to the US Census, for example, women working in engineering occupations increased from 3% in 1970, to 15% in 2019. That same year, there were more than 6.3 million female scientists and engineers working in the EU, accounting for 41% of total employment in science and engineering.
So, matters are improving, though women remain somewhat under-represented. With the aim to inspire more females to choose an engineering career, three women, working in engineering for Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection, talk about their experiences and their driving influences. The women are:
Johselyn Casillas, Applications Center Manager at Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection US in Lutz, Florida.
Kristina Djukic, Mechanical Engineer at Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection US in Lutz, Florida, who is transitioning to Product Engineer/Product Manager.
Ruth Francis, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer based at Mettler-Toledo Safeline Metal Detection in Salford, UK.
Q1. What or who inspired you to work in this industry?
Johselyn Casillas (JC) – I was inspired by making a difference that can protect others while they enjoy the products they consume. Product inspection allows us to ensure people are safe from foreign material that can hurt them or even be life threatening.
Ruth Francis (RF) – I was originally a product designer and was due to do an MSc in Industrial Design. In a ‘sliding doors’ moment, my lecturer told me of a new MSc course that he was creating, that was more Engineering based. He felt my skills were better suited in that area, so my career path changed.
Kristina Djukic (KD) – I was first inspired to work in engineering in grade 12 – I had a great physics teacher who used to be a mechanical engineer. While in university, I was involved in a lot of projects that made me realise that I really wanted to use my engineering skills to benefit society, such as designing low-cost medical devices for countries that can’t afford traditional medical equipment.
Q2. Have you faced any barriers within your career? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
JC – Yes, being a female in this industry can be difficult but not impossible. It takes double the effort to prove yourself to others, especially when you are young, trying to explain to people that what they have been doing for years may be wrong. Once you do prove yourself you do earn their respect and that is awesome.
RF (above) – Before Safeline, I spent a long time in the same role with one company, hoping that someone would give me the opportunity to rise up the ladder. That opportunity was never given to me, but I knew what I was capable of and after ten years, I decided to find somewhere that would recognise my abilities. Here I am at Safeline, and they have given me a chance to shine and develop. Sometimes the only way to move past an obstacle is to take a big risk and step outside of your comfort zone. If you know your self-worth, you will succeed.
Q3. Do you have any role models?
JC – My parents are my role models. My mom is from Panama. To me, she was the best, most hard working, artistic, talented but humble seamstress in Puerto Rico where I grew up. She taught me to aim to be the best in anything I did. She is the definition of service and humbleness. My dad, Army retired, was my hero. He showed me to give openly to those in need, even if you were down to your last dollar. These values are my foundation and will be with me for ever.
RF – Maya Angelou – she was a civil rights activist in America, as well as a poet and writer. What I liked most about her was that she was a fantastic public speaker. She really caught your attention and inspired you. She had the power to change people purely by the way that she spoke.
KD (below) – My role models are definitely my parents. In the 1990s they fled from the former Yugoslavia to escape the war. Eventually they moved to Canada with my sister and myself. They did this all on their own with minimal knowledge of the language, so that they could create a better life for our family. I often think about the sacrifices they made and am motivated to work hard, stay true to my values, and keep chasing my goals – all traits and values I try to bring to work with me every day.
Q4. What is your dream for the next 5-10 years?
JC – I want to create an App Centre Dream Team and World Class Centre that inspires not only Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection but other divisions to strive to be the best.
RF – My main aim at the moment is to be a Team Leader. I am in the process of developing my career plan with my manager, but I know I want to leave a legacy within the company and feel like I have made significant changes that will last.
KD – I know I would like to be involved in work that I feel passionate about, where I am making a difference and helping society.
Q5. If you could give the 18-year-old you one piece of advice, what would it be?
JC – Always follow your dreams, and surround yourself with empowered, positive people that will push you always to do your best and continue growing in life.
RF – Be patient and don’t worry so much!
KD – Get comfortable with stepping outside your comfort zone. To truly grow and develop you have to be able to put yourself in situations where you may not feel fully comfortable or confident, and where there will likely be a lot of unknowns, but these are the experiences where you will grow, learn about yourself, and develop.