Female engineers have been branded to be nerds and unattractive. It is a common belief that female engineers have no sense of style, not feminine enough and probably too strong for the average man.
Contrary to this widely held bias, Nnennaya Udochu is a firm believer that female engineers can be trendy, decent, and elegant. Nnennaya’s life and style is full proof that women are going against this bias.
As an analog engineer, she doesn’t fit into what you’d typically call your hard hat-wearing engineer. She has held the office of a Professor Faculty in the Mathematics department at the University of Portland, Oregon., and she balances career with self-care.
Nnennaya doubles as a fashion blogger and also motivates ladies who fear that taking a career in engineering or any career in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) would impede and perhaps limit their chances of a relationship.
In this article, she shares her experience in the profession gives her insights on the misconceptions placed on women in STEM.
What prompted you to want to become an Engineer?
I enjoyed solving a lot of Math problems and enjoyed a particular topic in my physics class, Electromagnetics.
It was from that course in Secondary School I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering.
What setbacks did you experience pursuing this dream?
Taking some engineering courses that would make me think, “why me” or “God help me” because I found them very challenging. For example, Thermodynamics and Statics.
Aside from those challenges, the fear of self-doubt. Sometimes, just believing in yourself regardless of what people think goes a long way. I remember being in a study group where we were discussing our prospective first jobs and I said Microsoft or any Fortune 500 company.
The whole group burst out laughing but today here I am staying in the course of what I want for myself.
Did you have a hard time proving your credibility to your male lectures/superiors?
Yes, I did most of the time. It took a lot of hard work and proving myself but I would always let the quality of my work delivery speak volume.
Once you’re very knowledgeable about your expertise and firm about making decisions, it would be difficult for anyone to question your abilities in the workforce.
Females in #STEM tend to recline to the background whenever leadership or academic roles are called for. Was this your experience?
No this isn’t my experience. I am very tenacious in the pursuit of leadership or academic roles in my career; certainly not shying away from it.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been an Adjunct Professor at the University of Portland, Oregon and I’m continuously getting mentored by senior leaders in my industry.
As an Analog Engineer, what does your typical workday look like?
My workdays are very busy and a lot of critical thinking is involved.
Every day I am faced with new challenges on addressing power issues and honestly, everything I learned in Physics II (especially applied principles of electromagnetics) are applied from day to day.
Basically, I am mentally tasked each day.
You are also an Instagram blogger. Tell us about your journey.
The journey so far has been great! I continue to curate content on my platform to inspire people across the world through my travel shots, beauty, hair and showcasing different fashion looks ranging from street style to guest inspired looks at a wedding.
I’ve collaborated with brands such as Pitusa, Chi Chi London, Res Ipsa, Palmers, Victoria Emerson just to mention a few and my work has been featured on various Instagram and media platforms.
The most exciting experience I’ve had from my journey so far was being privileged to have featured on a fashion segment on Fox News (Fox12 Oregon) discussing the latest Fall fashion trends in 2018.
In your opinion why do you think women in #STEM do not take self-care as a top priority?
I feel it’s because they don’t want to appear unserious for their jobs and have their co-workers not take them seriously in a meeting or on a project.
The perception of a woman figure in STEM is always painted wearing dirty clothing, or plain tops and jeans and this have clouded some women’s judgment on how they would like to present themselves.
What advice do you have for women starting out in #STEM?
Stay persistent and confident in the pursuit of your career goals. Don’t let the presumptions society has about women in STEM be a reason you get discouraged in achieving your career goals.
Who you are or aspire to be shouldn’t be limited by someone’s experience.
What’s the look on people’s face when you’re all dressed up like a diva and you tell them what you do?.
They are always astonished and perplexed. Some make decent remarks like, “Beauty and Brains” while others find the need to argue.
Once a co-worker said I was in Finance and I said, “No”. Only for him to turn back around still amazed and say, “I always thought you were in Finance and you were a spoilt brat because of the way you dress”.
Between anger and range, I managed to get my emotions in check and simply responded, “For someone educated that is quite shallow of you to say”.
Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.