Read how Nneka Obianuju Onubogu a Mechanical Engineer; and currently a research assistant at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Malaysia, is unperturbed by gender stereotypes in the industry.
A Harvard Business Review article of 2016, was an answer to an inquiry of ” why do so many women who study engineering leave the field?” And one of the reasons given was “gender stereotypes”. So, if you are contemplating abandoning your career in one of the STEM fields due to gender stereotypes or any other reason, before you throw in the towel, wait!I have a passion for fixing things Click To Tweet
Having a role model and following your passion makes it easy
Nneka’s motivation for pursuing a career in mechanical engineering were influenced by two things:
“First is my dad, who is a practicing Mechanical Engineer. I admired and still admire him so much that I wanted to be just like him. Secondly, I have a passion for fixing things. I am very inquisitive on the mechanics behind any machines’ motion. Right from childhood, I had a habit of unscrewing all my toys and fixing them back over and over again.”
When you are passionate about anything, it will be very hard for you to throw in the towel, especially when the going gets though.being different means making a difference anywhere you go and anywhere you find yourself Click To Tweet
Remember that you are a woman with talents and abilities
Being a ‘woman’ should not make you feel less than a human being when assigned to male dominated teams, you are as capable as your male colleagues!
Nneka says “Our research team actually consists of all men (Professors, Doctors and lecturers) and one lady (myself). We treat each other equally and there has never been a period when I felt inferior because of my gender”.
When you still feel overwhelmed,borrow a page from Nneka’s book,”sometimes I feel like ‘a woman in a man’s world’ hence, I give my best contribution to my team”.
Nneka is currently working on a project tagged ‘Wide acceptance angle optical fiber-based day- lighting system using two-stage non-imaging solar concentrator’. “This is a project sponsored by the Ministry of Energy, Malaysia”.
The papers can be found in the links below:
I have met many ladies like me who are in male dominated career paths and they also strive hard… Click To TweetBlend in
Whether you are in a local or global community, do not isolate yourself. Nneka, although from Africa, found herself working and studying in Asia. She quickly learned the language and befriended some locals.
“Even though my University is generally Chinese dominated, everyone speaks English and every lecture and research is conducted in English. Irrespective of that, students and my research team members still switch to Chinese language when they discuss within themselves.
This is not a problem for me as I have learned the Chinese language (conversational) and I can understand what they say. Right now, I am a professional at eating local foods with ease. I am also the only foreigner (African) in my office, but I still participate in every event weather Chinese, Malay or Indian”.
Conquer any inferiority complex by actively making a difference
Nneka’s slogan is ” Being different means making a difference anywhere you go and anywhere you find yourself”.
She adds that “the fact that you are in a career path where you are the only lady in a team of men is the key reason for you to stand out”. Some African people say, ‘Mechanical Engineering is not for ladies; a lady should be a teacher, a lawyer or even a house wife’. I can boldly say from experience that it is a blatant lie!
“I have met many African ladies like me who are in male dominated career paths, who also strive be the best and make a difference. This should inspire other women who have dropped out to get back on their feet and even do better” she says.... I show them that Africans are not racist by braiding the hair of the kids for free. Click To Tweet
Making a difference includes contributing to the community you find yourself. Nneka does this by using one of her skills to make children smile.
“I have made an impact in the lives of the locals here, especially via my hair braiding skills. I was so surprised when I made it to the Chinese newspapers for just that little kind gesture “.
In addition, Nneka has many solar technology ideas that she intends to implement when she arrives in Nigeria.
You see why she just can’t turn her back? When you are full of dreams and know that the world is waiting to feel your impact, you wont turn back!
Networking is one the keys to staying motivated
Networking is today’s currency to getting up the success ladder and staying motivated. Nneka advises those in a global career and STEM fields to “try creating a network with people who are pioneers in that career path. In that way, they stay motivated and become significantly better”.