Thales uses the International Women in Engineering Day to bring young graduates, students and young professionals together with employees of the company. We want to provide insights into the various technical professions, to discuss career opportunities and to exchange experiences.
Thales is proactive in promoting gender equality. It is important to us to get women excited about technical professions and the technology industry, to win them over for our company and to support them in shaping their careers.
COVID-19 does not allow this event to be held this year. Nevertheless, we would like to give graduates and career starters the opportunity to learn more about studying and professions in technical areas.
We asked our colleagues why they took the different paths at Thales.
"Hello, my name is Daniela. I studied maths and philosophy and I work as a systems engineer 80% of the time. I take additional courses in crisis counselling and love to spend my free time in nature, with friends and with art.
For me personally, there are no clear boundaries or patterns of people in a profession. In my opinion, there is no contradiction between being an engineer and becoming a crisis counsellor at the same time, to love logic and to be artistic at the same time. What I would like to tell everyone who is considering studying or working in science or technology is this: Don't be put off by any standards or prototypes of an engineer/mathematician or whatever. Do what you enjoy and what you are interested in.
I can't honestly say whether I would study maths again or not, but I wouldn't struggle as much with the decision any more. Your studies provide a good basis, but they don't define the rest of your entire career.
In my job, I am lucky to work with great managers who allow me to find my way and to try out something new. One valuable experience I can pass on is that it is important to communicate what you want and what you don't want and still be open for new experiences and tasks.
I do think that as a woman I approach some problems and tasks differently than some of my male colleagues. However, that's a good thing and makes me neither a better nor a worse engineer than them. At best, we can learn from each other."
"Forget a princess - I'm going to be a rocket scientist! Don't limit your abilities by stereotypes, but use your talents and strengths.
As a hardware architect, I have been to several job fairs to tell young students about my everyday work as an engineer, and most of the time I can win them over with my enthusiasm for my profession and my department.
I am often asked how I came to study aerospace engineering. Maths and physics have always been my favourite subjects and I have always been "going against the flow" or doing what you might not expect from a woman. To this day, I have never seen this as a disadvantage; on the contrary, I have used it as an incentive to convince everyone of the opposite and to exceed my expectations.
So far, I have hardly had any negative experiences in this respect and would like to encourage even more women not to be put off and to pursue technical professions."
When I think of the typical German engineer, I face the picture of an older man with glasses and a ruler in his hands. Although I knew that this is not too close to reality, it was my work experience at Thales that really taught me otherwise.
During my first practise-oriented phase in the company I recognised that women can achieve a lot. My boss was a successful woman with a PhD and director job title. Although this practise-oriented phase only took about three months, I learned a lot from her during this time: Today, family and working life can be combined, just like intelligence and charm. Being a career woman is a dream that can come true.
In 12th grade, I wanted to study industrial engineering since it appeared to be the most flexible type of engineering studies with the most unpredictable end – allowing me to keep my freedom of choice.
Now, I am deciding for a career in industrial engineering, because I can combine and understand two worlds: business and technology. I can do what I enjoy – communication, coordination and control – women's "3 C" – in a working environment where I can always meet new challenges.
I am Sofia, 27, working as a Junior Systems Engineering Manager in the Main Line Signalling department of Thales Deutschland. More simply: I am a technical project manager in the development of railway technologies. Three years of combined studies in “Industrial and Electrical Engineering” have brought me here. When I was in school, I never thought of my place being so close to engineering. Although I was quite good at maths, I also passionately interpreted poems, learned foreign languages, and challenged my inner artist.
This may not sound like the typical starting point for engineering studies, but with each practise-oriented phase, the combined studies gave me a chance to try a new facet of myself – and after dealing with hard helmets, production and quality management, I found my haven in development projects. Projects like that can be difficult, stressful and sometimes discouraging, no question about that. But to me, it seems worth the effort to help ensure that the mobility of tomorrow is more modern, reliable, safe, ecological and efficient than today.
For me “Women in Engineering” is a matter of course and lived reality. I am totally convinced that all people, whether female or not, need to find the best version of themselves without stressing themselves with prejudices – not even with their own. Today, engineering more than ever stands for international, interdisciplinary teams, rapid changes, and nearly unlimited possibilities. Who could be in the wrong place here? Maybe it only takes one courageous self-attempt to find your favourite self.
See you soon,
Although I dropped physics in 10th grade and “Economics” has not been taught at my school, I decided to study industrial engineering, specialising in electrical engineering.
It was. At that time, it was difficult to estimate where my career path would lead me. I did well in maths and was also interested in economic subjects. So, I came up with the idea of becoming an industrial engineer or project manager.
On the first day of the semester, I realised that my chosen studies would be a challenge and would also mean some restrictions on leisure activities. Hard work and the support of fellow students transformed my technical and economic interest into application-specific knowledge.
The time invested paid off. Following the motto “Where there's a will there's a way”, I could realise my dream of studying industrial engineering.
Technical studies should not be a deterrent, but rather be seen as a challenge in which one can grow both personally and professionally.
"In the summer before my studies began, I had no idea what to study. All I knew was that I had good skills when it comes to technical matters and so it was clear to me that I wanted to take a technical course – but which one? I decided on electrical engineering and right on the first day all my doubts were gone. I quickly realized that this is the right place for me.
I have fond memories of my days as a student. I was particularly inspired by the fact that many of the best professors were women. Unfortunately, I later discovered that there is still a different attitude in the professional world. Even today, women are often made fun of, though this kind of thing is long out-dated.
The number of women in engineering is growing and every day we show that women can work just as well as men. You will always find it again: The best solutions are found in teams that consist of men and women as well as people from all parts of the world as this brings creativity, innovation and flexibility. If the work is done in the head, how important are external differences?"
"I must admit that as a student I had little interest in topics such as gender equality and found the question of what it's like to study aerospace engineering "as a woman" rather annoying over time.
The question itself implied a problem that hardly played a role in my everyday life as a student.
Although there were very few women enrolled in the course, I was not confronted with any prejudice, let alone disadvantages – on the contrary, I was able to participate in a support programme for women in technical professions and in a mentoring programme during my studies.
When I entered my professional life, I quickly noticed that these programmes were available for female students because there is still a lot to be done on the way to achieving equal opportunities for women and men.
In order to improve the situation, it is important for women to pursue their interest in technical professions so that there are more female role models in the future and women support each other.
I think it is important that we women take the opportunity to pursue our professional interests, because, unfortunately, this could not always be taken for granted and many generations of women before us have fought for these rights. In order to make further progress along this path, I would like to encourage women to take up technical professions and use their talents, because together we can achieve more.
I am currently working as a bid manager at Thales Alenia Space and it is great to be part of an aerospace company.
I especially appreciate my colleagues in the aerospace industry who mostly follow their profession out of conviction and with a strong intrinsic motivation.
The aerospace industry can make a major contribution to solving global challenges, and I aim to contribute a small part to this.
What also fascinates me about my profession is that in aerospace industry it is predominantly international project teams that work on a common goal, which makes a sense of European community come alive.
As a valuable experience, I would like to add that an engineering degree can open up a variety of career paths.
The fact that you yourself are constantly developing and changing allows you to pursue different professional interests, to try out new things and even change direction. An engineering degree provides a very good basis for this."