Western Engineering's women lead the way

Women leaders

Western Engineering News | October 17, 2015

By Jason Teakle

With six female leaders of extracurricular clubs, groups and teams across the faculty, Western Engineering's young women are blazing a trail of leadership, and actively breaking down the stereotype of engineering being just for men.

As they take the helm of student projects, the faculty's female student leaders shared why it is so important for women in engineering to take on leadership roles.

Allison Waters, a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student and team leader of Western Formula Racing SAE, said women offer a different perspective.

"Women leading groups can really help them move forward, consider other things and arrive at positive outcomes," said Waters. "Women often see things from a different perspective and it brings more diversity to groups."

Hilary Luo, a third-year Mechatronic Systems Engineering and Music student, leads the WE FIRST Robotics student club and values diversity of all kinds.

"Diversity in any way is important," Luo said. "Everyone has something different to bring to the table. We are always trying new things and diversity can only help to bring new approaches for our existing and new initiatives."

After leading the Western Engineering Concrete Canoe Association for the past two years, Nicole Wight, a fourth-year Civil and Structural Engineering student, has handed control to Michael Nelson this year, but still remains deeply involved.

"Having women as leaders encourages other women to become leaders as well, and step into these roles, too," Wight said. "I think it's really good to see that women can put their ideas out there and have their opinions valued. Changing the way people see engineering at the university level allows that to spread into the workforce."

Mira Kim, a third-year Mechanical Engineering student and team leader of Western Baja SAE, said she is proud of the way women lead.

"Women are often understanding and compassionate when they lead, which allows for a different group dynamic," she said.

While it is important to have women in leadership positions, Shivani Chotalia, a fourth-year Green Process Engineering student who leads Western University’s Engineers Without Borders student chapter, said it's about deciding who is best suited to lead, regardless of gender.
Ayeda Sayeed, a third-year Mechatronic Systems Engineering student on internship at GM CAMI Assembly, and a leader of the Western SunStang Solar Car Project, said Western Engineering is a faculty that encourages all students to get involved by taking the lead.

"Western Engineering is clearly an environment that allows all of its students to thrive," noted Sayeed. “The fact that so many of our student leaders are women shows that women can and will take the extra step to push the current boundaries of engineering. These are women that will make breakthroughs that can change the world.”

When women gain leadership experience in university, they take crucial skills into the workforce and become role models for other young females interested in STEM.

“When women in engineering take leadership roles, it further defies the notion that engineering is a male-oriented field,” said Sayeed.