Hi, thanks for your article about your personal experience. I'm really happy to see more women doing an aprenticeship in electronics in the region I work.
"One thing that is the same for all women in engineering is the need to balance career and personal life. This becomes especially tricky if you are a mother who is ambitious. [...] That being said, I feel like women have to play the balancing act of work and home more than their male counterparts."
I disagree with that. My observations show that for fathers there is normally no option to "balance". You still have a strong role-model kind of view. One result is, that it is hard for men to work part time, especially as engineers (Some years ago company ABB was ranked the worst family-friendly company in switzerland...)
How many electronics engineers do you know, who work part time (eg. 80%), to have a free day to spend with the kids?
How many fathers you know, who would like to have more time to spend with there kids?
"If a man works extra hours for his job to move up the corporate ladder, he is praised for providing for his family. If a woman works extra hours and travels a lot for her job, she is often thought to be deserting her family."
Thats exactely the bad role model. Men who "only bring money home" are as bad. As a child you need the relationship to your father too.
The problem men face is the same as women, when you work some few years part time to rise your children, you risk your posibilities in your career. This has to be changed, because it's absolutely no drawback to be good parents.
I believe companies have it wrong. If you need to work long hours to get ahead the corporation is not valuing the employee and / or has planned the work incorrectly. No one should have to work more than 5 hours a week of overtime to get the job done if they are effecient in planning their day and don't get distracted.
Companies can help by coaching employees on effenciency and employees should pursue topics outside of work where time is flexiable to help themselves advance, such as additional study.
Thanks for the great post. My stock answer when people ask me why I studied engineer is because I liked math and science. But after reading your post, I realized that it was as much about being a rebel and proving to others that as the youngest child myself I was anything but the "baby." Whatever the resasons, i'm glad I did it - it has opened so many doors in my life, both professionally and personally. I always tell young people even if you don't think you want to be an engineer, study it if you've got the chops. You can always take it in a direction that you are more interested in - medicine, law, even journalism.