June 23rd is International Women in Engineering Day, a day initiated to celebrate incredible women engineers around the world, and also to help encourage more women to consider engineering as a career.
CCG is a multidisciplinary architecture and engineering firm that is fortunate to have a great team of inspirational women across all of our engineering disciplines. We invited women interested in engineering to share with us any questions they have for our women engineers about their work, so that we could share our honest answers with you.
We hope that the answers below will inspire those considering engineering as a career, and share valuable insight into life as a woman engineer and into life at CCG.
My parents always tell me that mechanical engineering is for boys, is it really the case? And is it possible to pay an engineer a visit to ask a few questions before I choose my major?
“Let me start by telling you that we were only 6 females among 60 males studying mechanical engineering in my year at university!
People usually associate mechanical engineering with muscular jobs considered as a masculine field of work like vehicles maintenance and factory machines. I remember back when I was majoring at university, I was at a friend’s house where my friend’s father asked me to fix a problem with his bus as a joke! Nevertheless, and regardless of the fact that mechanical engineering is one of the hardest majors to specialize in, and the fact that female engineers can handle vehicles and machines maintenance just as efficiently as a male engineer, there are other fields of mechanical engineering that are considered less masculine. These tend to be less well known by people such as building design for mechanical systems like HVAC, plumbing and firefighting systems, which is a very interesting field that can also be very challenging and I believe any smart girl would love to experience.
So of course, mechanical engineering is not at all limited to boys.
And yes of course, it is much better to ask for the support of someone who is already in the field to help give you a crystal clear image of what to expect in work, they can assist you in deciding whether this is what you are really looking for in your career. We actually receive many calls from students asking for clarification in relation to our field of work and we also receive arranged visits from high schools who allow their students to share their thoughts and questions with us. Once I even had a student join my team in the mechanical division for two weeks to better familiarize himself with exactly what we do and this helped him to decide that he wants to proceed in studying mechanical engineering.”
Hadeel Hijjawi, Mechanical Division
I am passionate about the environmental aspects of engineering, but I am lost between solar and other civil specialties, a female point of view in both fields might help me out.
“Of course, all engineering fields complement each other, but as an electrical engineer, I think the transition to solar energy is about making an investment in our future and as the quote says “Do something today that your future will thank you for!””
Donya Mohammad, Electrical Division
“Environmental engineering can give you an opportunity to work on different types of projects, as all developments should be studied from an environmental point of view. An environmental engineer can work with urban planners, infrastructure, power including solar, and architecture engineers. An environmental engineer must be curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical, and a career in environmental engineering will also require you to develop your social communication skills, as you will need to communicate with stakeholders including the public during the project cycle. These tend to be considered as female characteristics, but of course in the end it comes down to you, your skills, what you enjoy and what motivates you.”
Rania Al-Omari, Water & Environment Center
Architecture is female dominated in university, is it the same in the business field or do many women stop their careers for social reasons?
“This is sadly the case, not only for women in the architectural field. Generally women, and especially working mothers, have to juggle many daily commitments and responsibilities that are not always considered to be required “by society” from its men. It is unquestionable that an exhausted woman with a full 24 hour schedule has less energy and time to commit to advancing her career. Fortunately though, the architectural business field is full of fighting, successful and ambitious women who defy these social hitches and obstacles!”
Tomesha Shashani, Architecture / Jafar Tukan Atelier
How can I improve my engineering skills so that I have something strong on my CV before I begin working?
“Start by identifying which skills are most needed in your targeted position; hard skills, soft skills, or a mix of both. Once these key skills are identified it will become easier for you to pursue the required training courses to advance and sharpen those key skills. One thing that is always helpful in building and strengthening your skills is work experience, which you can start to build on through volunteering and internships within your engineering domain.”
Rasha Matahen, Project Management Office
Is it hard to be a manager of a male team as a female engineer?
“I believe it depends on both you and your team. You should know what type of people you would like to have in your team, and you should choose them carefully, you also need to make sure that they see you as a LEADER and a friend rather than as a BOSS.
Thank God I have the greatest team members ever, so to me it is not hard at all. On the contrary, I actually consider my all male team as my second family, a backbone, and I know for sure that they will stand up for me whenever I need them just as I would stand up for them.”
Hadeel Hijjawi, Mechanical Division
There are only 2 girls on my course in Electrical Engineering and I am worried I will not feel welcome once I start work, do you have any advice?
“Resist the temptation to put huge pressure on yourself to be perfect from day one, simply because you’re anxious to impress your new colleagues, or think instant perfection is expected. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking is unrealistic and won’t help you to perform any better in your course in the long run. Instead, accept that it’ll take you a few weeks to get up to speed in your new role, and, that no one will expect you to be perfect from day one. Don’t worry about how your new colleagues may judge you, and instead focus your mind on making the best possible first impression you can, deliver your very best work, meet new people & remember all the things that motivated you to take this new course.”
Christine Qsous, Electrical Division
Do you have to be an extrovert to do well as a woman in engineering?
“I believe that diversity in an engineering organization is key for innovation. This is particularly true for diversity in gender and in personalities, both extroverts and introverts. Having a wide range of activities, engineering can benefit from the traits of each personality type bringing together broader and valuable perspectives. Engineering activities best for extroverts such as dealing with clients or acting and making quick decisions are as equally important as digging deep into the projects and having a keen eye for detail which are often best suited to introverts. Adding to this, I believe no one identifies as being solely either an extrovert or an introvert. We all have various and mixed traits that fall under both personality types allowing introverts to succeed in jobs requiring extrovert skills and the other way round. Success in the job is all about the passion, balance and knowing yourself and the people around you. Whether the engineer is a woman, man, introvert, or extrovert, having a strong leadership that can bridge together the different personalities is fundamental to achieving the organizational goals.”
Tamara Hayek, Architectural Division
I am a fresh graduate and I hate office work. I'd rather be on site, to work in supervision maybe. What are the challenges for women in this field?
"It is very difficult to find young female engineers who are interested in site supervision despite all of the challenges that women face in construction sites.
The working conditions can carry a lot of obstacles through communicating and coordinating between different categories of engineers, technicians and workers and this requires a high level of confidence and a strong personality.
In my opinion, a woman who has a lot of passion, dedication and who constantly seeks knowledge will overcome all of the site's difficulties and will give more and more."
Lina Al-Duhni, Supervision