March 8, 2021
The theme for International Women's Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge, focusing on challenging gender bias and inequality. Join us in creating a more inclusive world by celebrating women who are technical specialists at TÜV SÜD.
In honor of International Women’s Day 2021, TÜV SÜD highlights five technical specialists who give insight into their roles and provide advice to women who would like to pursue technical careers.
Mandy Zhao, Senior Safety Compliance Engineer
Both my parents are engineers and it was natural for me to become an engineer when I enjoyed the subjects in school. I had very few female classmates in my academic classes when I pursued higher education in the United States. Stereotypes do exist for females in engineering. The more challenging part in a technical job is the need to constantly improve your technical knowledge to keep pace with technological developments. I believe in keeping an open mind and continuously improving myself to prove my professionalism at work.
Women who are interested in engineering, but are daunted by the male-dominated industry should choose what they like, believe in themselves, and continue to work at it. I believe that if you really want to accomplish something, you will find ways to make it happen. Again, continuously improving yourself will eventually make you outstanding.
Andrea Blair, Global Practice Leader and Account Manager
I attended Northeastern in Massachusetts and studied Electrical Engineering. Through that, I was involved in a few co-op jobs at different engineering companies, but came to realize early on that I wanted something with a great deal of variety. Engineering was challenging for me, and being one of only a few women in my class also presented many obstacles I had to overcome. However, over the course of my career, I have enjoyed seeing the process of how things are made, which is what ultimately drew me to a position at TÜV SÜD. It has been rewarding to see some things progress for women in technical fields, and I enjoy helping encourage those efforts with a good work ethic and participating in roundtables and discussions with young ladies about pursuing technical careers.
Early on in my career, I was working in a lot of heavy, industrial auto manufacturing plants. As a female just starting out in a male-dominated industry, there were definitely obstacles. I have faced challenges, such as feeling the need to prove myself to clients and colleagues, and gaining their confidence in my technical abilities and contributions. I learned a lot of important lessons over time as I became more well-versed in my career. I also believe that the industry has shifted since then, and I think it is a much better working environment for women. Another challenge I faced was the ability to establish a good balance between work and family. I had three kids in four years, so there were definitely times where I had to take my foot off the gas a bit in my career in order to focus on my family.
Justina Sanchez, Product Safety Engineer
When I started at TÜV SÜD America, I was a Project Coordinator. I was surrounded by engineers, and I was completely fascinated by what they were doing. I had all of these technical experts at my fingertips, and one of our female engineers in our San Diego office took me under her wing and mentored me. Because of her mentoring and willingness to help me along my career journey, I was able to pursue engineering as a career at TÜV SÜD America.
I’m now committed to getting girls interested in engineering at a young age, which is so important. I have a young daughter and she wants to be an engineer when she grows up. I like to expose her to toys that involve building simple circuits or projects that involve entry-level mechanics. In fact, she and I have bought a kit before where we’ve built an actual working stand for one of her dollhouses. Kids are just so fascinated by engineering so what we need to do to really step up is provide that opportunity and exposure that to them at a young age. While I found my passion in engineering later in life, a level of support and mentoring is critical.
Being in the engineering field is amazing! You see how things work, inside and out. It is challenging at times, but when you conquer the challenge, there is this profound sense of accomplishment. Every day is different and new and usually exciting!
Amy Steerzer, Auditor
I’m an Auditor with TÜV SÜD America. I specialize in technical reviews in addition to the audits. I really enjoy assisting clients interpret the regulatory standards that their industries require. Many people approach the standards from different angles and have different ideas on how to put processes in place to achieve compliance. I like to work with these clients to ensure their unique business needs are balanced with the requirements that the standards provide. Helping them find this happy balance is what I really enjoy. I also love to learn more about different industries.
I think this is a great career to consider if you love talking, asking a lot of questions, and learning. Young women entering the auditing field should be prepared to educate the clients themselves and be an asset to them. Auditing is also a great fit if you like to travel and meet people from different cultures. This career is something I really enjoy. I love doing the work, because I am constantly learning. If you want to grow, this job enables you to do that.
Christine Laube, Medical Product Expert
I have two roles at TÜV SÜD. One is working in the Biological/Chemical Testing role helping to build a new state-of-the-art laboratory here in the United States, a new addition to the TÜV SÜD Italy and India laboratories. The new lab will support the biocompatibility, chemical characterization, microbiology testing, as well as medical package testing.
I am also a Medical Product Expert, part of the GEMs Team (General Essential Modules), specializing in Sterilization, Reprocessing, and Viral Inactivation assessments for Medical Devices. I work with clients to ensure that their medical devices are safe and meet the applicable standards.
Women who want to pursue STEM or technical careers should figure out what part of science they are really passionate about, the particular thing that makes them read and research way beyond what perhaps they were asked of in school…the thing they geek out about. Then, connect with others in those fields and ask them what they do on a day-to-day basis…does it involve that thing? Go for it because every day will then be an interesting journey that flows into the next. Does the career combine something else you love, like for me travel? Finally, find a mentor in your field you can bounce ideas off of to help you lay out a path for your future….also the best paths are ones you create for yourself, so don’t be scared to think outside the box of using your various skillset to find careers that you may not have known existed.
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