“Break the bias” is the theme for International Women’s Day this year, the annual event to promote gender equality. International Women’s Day is today, but for Metrology Applications Engineer Nuala Baker, breaking the bias in metrology and engineering is a day-to-day occurrence.
There is just that general mindset in society that the engineering industry is for men. It is also on the other side, where caring and nursing jobs are perceived as being not necessarily for men. I don’t even think people realise they are thinking it.
For me, it comes back to a very young age. When you go into a toy shop, for example, there are boys’ toys, and they are clearly separated from the girls’ toys. That mindset comes from everywhere in society.
A Positive Message for Women
For Nuala, working as an engineer is a very rewarding career, particularly in a field like metrology. She believes getting this message across to girls and young women is important.
Engineering is always something I was very interested in. I enjoy maths and science, and I enjoy solving problems, building knowledge, and then using that knowledge to tackle a problem and come up with a solution.
“As a day-to-day job, I feel very fortunate doing what I do, as it is something I really enjoy.”
Nuala also has excellent advice for girls and young women who think they might be interested in engineering or a similar maths or science-related career. The advice is particularly relevant as these industries have a history of comprising more men than women.
The most important thing when picking a career is to make sure it is something that genuinely interests you.
It is essential that you enjoy what you do, says Nuala.
“If possible, try to get exposure to these areas that you are interested in. If the subjects are not available in your school, try to trial them in some other way. This will help you see if you genuinely enjoy engineering, as the only way to really know is to try it out.”
“As you get older, you will find that many engineering companies are open to young people doing a placement, so reach out, put yourself forward, and get any experience that you can.”
Keeping Your Options Open
Nuala’s story of getting into metrology also shows the diversity of roles that exist in engineering and the fact that your career can change once you get into the workplace.
Metrology is the science of measurement, but when I was growing up, I didn’t know what engineering was, let alone metrology. I always enjoyed maths and science-related subjects, though. Similarly, the career aptitude tests I did suggested engineering was a good fit for my interests and abilities. So, I went for it, enrolling to do a mechanical engineering degree.
Breaking The Bias
Of the 180 students in Nuala’s year at the all-girls school she went to, only she and another girl went on to study engineering.
When I went to college, it was quite overwhelming at first with the whole gender balance thing. There were 47 guys and three girls in my class of 50. So, it was very male-dominated.
Once you get over that fact, you get down to the details of the subject, and I really started to enjoy it. I wouldn’t go back to change anything, even though I know I was nervous at the start.
Nuala’s Path to Verus Metrology
After graduating, Nuala began working as a graduate engineer in manufacturing before moving to a large multinational facility in Ireland. It was here that Nuala got into metrology when a role in the metrology department of the company she worked for came up. Then she moved to Verus, initially in metrology before placing her hand in metrology fixture design. These days, Nuala is putting her years of experience into our leading metrology department as an expert Metrology Applications Engineer.
For Nuala, the support she had from her family in the early days was important.
There wouldn’t be any engineers in my extended family. There also wouldn’t be any knowledge of engineering as a career. Still, when I told my mother this is what I wanted to do, she was very supportive. My mother had the attitude that I can do anything I want if I work at it, and that is something I want to instil into my children.
For more information about Metrology Applications at Verus, contact Nuala Baker, Design Engineer on +353 (0)719143506 (ext. 216). To request a quote click here. Moreover, be sure to subscribe to our NEWSLETTER to receive technical blogs, customer updates and all the latest developments.