Engineering from Venus !

Firdaouss KOUCHTAF, 24, has been working for ATEME since October 2010 as a Pre-sales Engineer. She shares with us her story of a young woman in a Man’s world.

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Q: When did your interest in engineering start?

I was born in Morocco into a family where many women were already engineers, that is why this position was not something unknown or new to me. Equally important in my family was the need to succeed in your chosen career. From a young age I was taught that a professional status was essential and education the key to professional success. If you are a woman you ought to be independent and be able to make your own choices. When I realized I had good results in Science and Technologies, I did not hesitate in my decision to become an engineer just as my cousins before me and to whom I looked up to with pride and admiration. It was really my first choice.

After my high school, I attended preparatory classes for entry into Engineering Universities. 30% of my classmates were girls and we were more or less treated in the same way as the boys.
Once I graduated (19), I came to study in France at the ESME Sudria, Electronics & Telecoms Engineering School. At first, I thought, there would be more women enrolled in the course than I was used to seeing in my country but I was mistaken as there was around 10% of women in my school year. At the end of my schooling, I came to the conclusion that no matter where you are in the world, engineering still remains a subject associated principally with men and one which remains difficult for women to access.

Q: How do you think this could change?

Right from early schooling, women should be encouraged to study technical subjects. I am not sure this is the case today. Engineering should be made more attractive, adopt a different approach. Concerning French society, I am afraid that in today’s world, being a women engineer is not associated with being “glamorous”. Common positions today held mainly by women are moreover in marketing, human resources, communication and unfortunately not in civil engineering or other technical positions. This stereotype has to change.

Q: Do you have any advice for women wanting to become engineers?

Determination, strength of character, self-confidence. In order to succeed, you must work twice as hard as your male colleagues but on the contrary, due to all the facts I stated above, we are unique and this turns into an advantage. We have the opportunity to give different points of view, add the feminine touch, which is appreciated.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

Contact with clients, independence and responsibility. I like finding solutions and helping to implement different systems corresponding to clients’ needs. ATEME is a French company with clients all over the world and therefore employs many international profiles. This gives me the opportunity to work in an international environment; my closest colleagues come from Korea and Colombia. I have five team members out of which two are women. This is quite exceptional. I also enjoy travelling which is very much associated with my job. Working for ATEME is a great challenge and I gain new experiences every day.

ATEME has 96 employees as of 2011, 70 of which engineers including 4 women.

Posted by Monika Ceskova Fourneaux