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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

PERSPECTIVE: Take the Leap – More Women Should Be Engineers

The support systems help level the playing field and allow aspiring professional women to succeed in their goals and careers.

The words ‘diversity’ and ‘equality’ are often mentioned in a corporation’s credo, but rarely do organizations create significant actions and initiatives that invite everyone to the table equally. Although there have been great strides to be more inclusive and tolerant in the industry, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field remains heavily dominated by men. Personally, I have pursued STEM since I was a young girl, with a passion for math and science, eventually leading me to a career in electrical engineering.

Women deserve all the same opportunities as their male counterparts in engineering, and for that to happen it initially requires an open mind with a willingness to listen. Leaders are responsible for the work environments they create and nurture. When an organization’s culture is curated with tolerance and understanding that promotes diversity, leaders tend to see engagement that supports innovative ideas and solutions for businesses. From my experience, diverse teams produce more out-of-the-box solutions, resulting in successful organizations. Forming positive initiatives for all women from any background creates opportunity, providing proof that women are wanted and belong in STEM-driven careers.

Sometimes, you just need to take a leap of faith. That leap may entail switching jobs, changing industries, or fighting for what you deserve, but never forget to believe in yourself and the value of your contributions. As rewarding as engineering positions can be, they can also be quite intense, requiring advanced levels of understanding of multiple technical systems. Maintaining mental and social flexibility is key for well-being, reducing the chance of finding yourself in a situation where you feel cornered or out of resources. This is where positive support systems are key to a successful career.

The support systems help level the playing field and allow aspiring professional women to succeed in their goals and careers. Mentors, compassionate leaders, advisors, and advocates can help improve a women’s career in engineering as drastically as it did mine. Ambitious women should use all the tools and resources at their disposal to advance their careers in STEM. Listening to encouraging words from a fellow female professional or leader can be just what you need. Relying on mentors, role models and compassionate leaders can help improve a women’s career in engineering as drastically as it did mine. Constructive and fair criticism should be welcomed and appreciated. No one is perfect and that is what makes us all beautiful.

I praise the women around the world tearing down barriers within their industry. Diversity, representation, and inclusion are the key pillars to a positive, compassionate, and productive work environment. I highly encourage any woman to be open to opportunity, be agile, be tenacious, be bold, explore numerous career paths in engineering and inspire others to pursue a career in engineering. Women belong in engineering, period.


The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email Editor@Hstoday.us.

Sylvia Zachary
Sylvia Zachary is Cybersecurity and Software Director - Secure Communications (SCOM), at Cubic Mission & Performance Solutions. Sylvia received her BSEE from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MSEE from San Diego State University. Her career began in hardware design at TRW-MEAD, Military Electronics Avionics Decision. She eventually moved to Cubic Mission & Performance Solutions as a design engineer for nine years, followed by functional manager for 20 years. Sylvia’s expert leadership skills, qualifications and experience recently awarded her a new role as the Cybersecurity and Software Director for the Security Communications (SCOM) team. In this role, Sylvia leads the Cybersecurity and Software functional groups, ensuring Cybersecurity and Software compliance of SCOM products and solutions.

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