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  • Writer's pictureMonica Giudice

Occuity #ChooseToChallenge the stereotypes

International Women’s Day is a day of raising awareness and support and of drawing conclusions on how far we have travelled along the road to gender parity. How much was achieved during the past year? Most importantly, how much is there still to do?

Occuity #ChooseToChallenge the stereotypes. In fact, at Occuity highly qualified and experienced women make up nearly half of our team of engineers who are researching and developing our revolutionary portable optical devices to screen for and monitor chronic health conditions such as diabetes. But this is not all. At Occuity women are a significant presence all around the organisation, with two young women that started a valuable internship experience just this week in the Marketing team. To celebrate diversity, we spoke to some of our female colleagues, Lesley, Jade and Sharon, and asked them to talk about their experiences and being part of the Occuity team.

How does it feel to be a female engineer in a male-heavy industry?

Lesley Parry-Jones, Senior Development Engineer and Oxford Alumni: “Honestly, I do not even notice it most of the time. I probably find it more of an advantage than a disadvantage. Moreover, the balance at Occuity is very good.”

Jade Smith, Development Engineer and MSc in Biomedical Engineering: “My previous job had only male engineers. I think it is great to now have a balance and also nice to have Lesley to look up. I would never say I have felt different or ‘pushed-out’ being a woman in engineering, there are just fewer of us around in some companies.”

How does Occuity make your working experience great?

Lesley: “I really enjoy working as part of a small, dynamic team that communicates well, is agile and full of bright, pro-active people. We’re working on some truly ground breaking technology, which is very rewarding.”

Jade: “Occuity is great, as the technology is so exciting. Working in a start-up you get to work closely with the people with so much experience and knowledge, so the ability to grow and learn is tremendous. My team have such passion and great work ethic that every day we achieve so much.”

Sharon Branch, experienced Quality Manager: “We have great leaders that drive the company whilst making everyone in the team feel valued. You are encouraged to work independently with the ability and freedom to overcome challenges while all new ideas are welcomed.”

What inspired you approaching this career and what inspires you now?

I think people are the happiest and get out the most from doing what they are best at.

Lesley: “I think people are the happiest and get out the most from doing what they are best at, and for me at school that was always maths, art and science. I chose to study Physics but have gradually drifted towards Engineering as I like solving real-world problems, and love designing and making new things. I am inspired by those around me as I am naturally competitive and always want to prove myself in every situation.”

Jade: “I have always wanted to help people in a medical way. And so I was inspired by the thought that by working on a medical device, like Occuity’s, I could help so many people. I look forward to the future and working on devices which could be used by my family members.”

Sharon: “My ambition and talent has always been to plan and organise everything in all aspects of my life. Where better to do that than in an industry that needs structure and direction but with the flexibility to change and grow as businesses and regulations also change and grow. It’s a pleasure to work within a fun and interesting industry that has some very talented individuals I can help and provide guidance to when needed.”

What advice would you give to other women who are thinking about a career in engineering?

Jade: “I think times are changing, which is great to see. On my university course there were actually more women than men, and I haven’t come across any roadblocks to achieving what I want. I would therefore definitely recommend a career in engineering. No matter what you choose to do, find something you enjoy and go for it! I loved engineering and found it rewarding and haven’t looked back.”

Finally, our team wanted to share some advices to all the women approaching the job world right now. They all agreed on one thing: “Follow your dreams”. If you love the job you are doing, you will strive in that role. Give it everything you have and do not be afraid to talk. Share you requests, share your ideas, share your worries, you cannot stay quiet. Do not let anyone, particularly yourself, to consider your gender as an impediment to your career. Make it one of your greatest assets.

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