AUK's RISE Cen­ter Hosts TED Speaker Yass­min Ab­del-Magied

Kuwait Times - - WHAT’S ON -

The Cen­ter for Re­search in In­for­mat­ics, Sciences and En­gi­neer­ing (RISE) at the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Kuwait (AUK), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Aus­tralian Em­bassy in Kuwait, held a lec­ture en­ti­tled "Women In Male-Dom­i­nated In­dus­tries: Gen­der and En­gi­neer­ing." The lec­ture was con­ducted by Yass­min Ab­del-Magied, Gen­der Am­bas­sador at the Inter-Amer­i­can Devel­op­ment Bank and Founder and Chair of Youth With­out Bor­ders. The lec­ture fo­cused on gen­der is­sues in the field of en­gi­neer­ing and the im­por­tance of di­ver­sity and mu­tual re­spect.

Dr. Amir Zeid, Di­rec­tor of RISE, in his in­tro­duc­tion to the lec­ture, said that the sub­ject of the lec­ture comes at a time when the world is strug­gling with in­ter­minable is­sues. He ex­plained that di­ver­sity and gen­der con­cerns in the field of en­gi­neer­ing are prom­i­nent is­sues that are faced in many coun­tries around the world, but in Kuwait, how­ever, al­most 60% of en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents are fe­male, while the per­cent­age in west­ern coun­tries is much lower.

In her per­sonal in­tro­duc­tion, Yass­min de­scribed to the at­ten­dees how she be­came in­ter­ested in the field of en­gi­neer­ing be­cause of her pas­sion for "For­mula 1" cars. She ex­plained that while grow­ing up, she imag­ined her­self as a race-car driver. When she saw she did not meet the nec­es­sary re­quire­ments to be­come a driver, she shifted her at­ten­tion to­wards the de­signs of the cars in­stead; this prompted her to pur­sue a ca­reer in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer.

At the Univer­sity of Queens­land, where Yass­min stud­ied, she said there were 300 male stu­dents and only 7 fe­male stu­dents who were study­ing me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing. This, along with her work ex­pe­ri­ence later, made her aware of an un­con­scious bias that ex­ists; one that was in­flu­enced by one's cul­ture and en­vi­ron­ment. She ex­plained that re­gard­less of where a per­son was brought up, they must try to shat­ter the glass ceil­ings set by so­ci­ety and pur­sue their goals in life, no mat­ter how against the norm they may seem.

The lec­turer also cov­ered key points re­gard­ing gen­der is­sues that women face as en­gi­neers. Yass­min ex­plained that one of the ob­sta­cles faced by women in the field of en­gi­neer­ing is that male en­gi­neers are gen­er­ally deemed com­pe­tent un­til proven oth­er­wise, while fe­male en­gi­neers are deemed in­com­pe­tent un­til proven oth­er­wise.

The speaker con­cluded by stat­ing that di­ver­sity in the work­place is im­por­tant, and in­tro­duc­ing new pat­terns of think­ing en­hances the work en­vi­ron­ment and yields bet­ter re­sults. "We may not be able to change the en­tire world, but we can change the world around us," she added.

The AUK Cen­ter for Re­search in In­for­mat­ics, Sciences, and En­gi­neer­ing (RISE) serves as AUK's pri­mary source for re­search and devel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, a bridge to in­dus­try, and an im­por­tant venue for com­mu­nity out­reach. RISE adapts an in­te­gra­tive model by forging con­nec­tions be­tween aca­demic dis­ci­plines, lo­cal & in­ter­na­tional in­no­va­tors, academia & in­dus­try, as well as tech­nol­ogy & so­ci­ety.

Wel­come re­marks by Dr. Amir Zeid, Di­rec­tor of RISE

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