On March 7, 2020, IWS was invited by Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning(Humber College) and non-profit organization, Let’s Get Together, to attend the “Electronics in Motion” workshop as part of the celebration for National Engineer Month (NEM). This free program was organized by the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology staff and students in collaboration with the Humber College’s Community Outreach and Workforce Development Department for grade 5-8 students and their parents/guardians.
The goal was to create awareness, promote and deepen people’s understanding of engineering and technology. The theme of this year’s NEM celebration were Ethical Leadership, Lifelong Learning and Equity, Diversity and inclusion (EDI). Four immigrant women engineers participated in the event as panelists to share their inspiring stories and their path towards engineering.
DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS, POWERFUL STORIES.
Liliana grew up in Colombia and as a child she always knew that she wanted to be an engineer. Her mother was her first mentor, who despite not having had the same opportunities growing up, guided and inspired her daughter to follow her passion. Liliana then pursued a degree in Telecommunications Engineering while also learning English.
Learning another language was pivotal for a career outside her home country. Her biggest challenge was to move to a new country with no friends or family and where winter started too early for someone who is used to the sun all year long! The cultural differences between North America and Latin America were also very striking. For instance, wearing bright colors in winter was not well seen! Nonetheless, she did her very best to integrate and find a network through volunteering and her job. She also met her husband while taking salsa classes!
DREAM IT. BELIEVE IT. BUILD IT.
Ines wanted to be an economist, but soon realized she disliked micro-economics and preferred science. Thanks to the guidance from her father and uncle, both engineers, she was inspired to follow in their footsteps and she came to Canada to pursue her studies.
She graduated in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto in 2010. She built her network within the university but also outside of it, through volunteering. This allowed her to extend her circle of connections. She also noticed the differences in culture and one of the most striking observation for her was that people who are friendly with each other, called each other by last name! Despite the culture differences she committed to remain true to herself!
BE AWARE OF DIFFERENCES AND BE YOURSELF
When Maria was younger, she wanted to be a lawyer, as she liked to argue! But when she envisioned herself being a lawyer, she decided to change direction. Her mother was a great support and helped her meet people who were pursuing engineering.
This gave her the opportunity to gather more information and set her on the path to become an engineer. Maria started as an Industrial Engineer but her career had various turns! In Nicaragua, she started working in marketing before moving to the USA, where she obtained her MBA and a Master’s degree in Engineering and Management. After a few years, she moved to Toronto where she continued her career in IT. Her flexibility, adaptability as we all as her will to learn made her successful in all her endeavors. She also greatly values networking and strongly recommends parents to help children build their network starting at a young age.
EMBRACE LEARNING, BE FLEXIBLE AND BE OPEN TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES IS KEY
Jodieka was born in Jamaica and grew up in the parish of St. Andrew. She always knew she wanted to work in technology but following in the footsteps of her sister, she started a career in Tourism. However, later on she stepped back and reevaluated her career. With the support from her family, she started a new career in technology.
It was not forthcoming that she could go ahead with her dream in her country because it was quite expensive. Nonetheless, she was persistent and in 2015 she came to Canada to pursue her studies in Information Technology. She completed her studies at Centennial College, obtaining a Diploma in Computer Networking.While trying to enter the Canadian workforce, recruiters advised her to change her name to an “English” name, such as Rebecca or Jane. But none of those names were really representing her and she decided to go with the short version of her name, Jodie, which was representing her at best! Working in the Canadian workplace she had many opportunities to grow. Being a woman and also a woman of color, Jodieka has encountered many challenges in a male dominated industry. Despite the obstacles, she embraced all challenges, learnt from criticism, and persisted on a path to mastery. She is always inspired by the success of others. Her advice to parents today is a quote by Michelle Obama, “We need all hands-on deck. And that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering and math.” She believes that girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math should pursue their dreams and aspirations regardless of the environmental and social barriers today.
ALL HANDS-ON DECK
These amazing strong women shared their stories of failures, challenges and most importantly successes and sent an important message to the community:
– Keep supporting your children’s passions, even if it is outside your comfort zone
– Challenges will be always there, no matter the field one chooses
– Be your children’s dream team – It takes a community to raise a child!
– Empower your children before they step out in the world
– Be adaptable
– Don’t be scared of failure. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity
– Make people notice you and your abilities
– Don’t be shy! Learn to speak up and ask for opportunities
– Be fearless!
Thank you Liliana, Ines, Maria and Jodieka for sharing your stories and being so inspiring! And thank you Humber College and Let’s Get Together for the opportunity to be a part of NEM2020!
Equal contribution from IWS Leaders: Giulia and Shraddha