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