In honor of International Women in Engineering Day (June 23rd) we are highlighting the female engineers who have made Markforged the company it is today. We asked each of them to tell us a bit about their background, what it’s like to work in STEM, and the advice they’d give to other women and girls looking to get into STEM.
Happy International Women in Engineering Day!
Maggie Su, Mechanical Engineer
When I joined Markforged, I was their first female engineer. I helped bring on more women into our engineering teams and we have benefited immensely from having more diverse perspectives and skill sets applied to projects. Sometimes it's easier to bounce ideas and tackle problems with other people who have similar experiences in the engineering world. In terms of advice to women in STEM, it's valid to go with your intuition, but always backup your points with good data. Having the numbers makes you more credible to your team.
Cat Pomorski, Associate Application Engineer
I grew up with two older brothers (who are both engineers) and a mom who is a science teacher, so STEM is in my blood. I joined FIRST Lego League in 7th grade and continued on to FIRST Robotics in high school. One thing I always say to anyone in STEM and struggling: ask for help. There are so many resources out there to help women in STEM. Also, know that you are not alone!
Emily Yu, Customer Solutions Engineer
I always wanted to be an engineer growing up. Making things with my hands was my favorite thing to do as a kid. Forget about Barbies, Lego is where the fun is at. More and more women will enter the STEM field as universities and institutions are putting a bigger focus in women in tech. Gender equality and balance in any given workforce will contribute to its success in a way that tech companies have never experienced before.
It takes generations of effort to truly destroy gender discrimination in STEM, and we are in a spot that is better than ever before, where women are more heard and exposed to the public eye. We need YOU to make the difference.
Michelle Chao, Material Engineer
I had an amazing high school chemistry teacher who got me excited about science. I remember doing a lab where we had to identify an unknown liquid by mixing it with a number of known chemicals and observing the reactions. It was pretty amazing when we figured out our mystery chemical by mixing it with another colorless liquid and getting a bright yellow precipitate (lead iodide and potassium nitrate).
Right now when you say scientist, the first mental image people have is of a man in a lab coat. But that's slowly changing as more women in STEM succeed in their careers and gain public recognition. It's a positive feedback loop. I've been inspired by my kickass female professors who were the only woman in their STEM classes when they went to school, and now they're teaching classes like mine which was almost half female.
Ignore the stereotypes and just go for it.
Michelle Gagnon, Associate Application Engineer
I always enjoyed science when I was younger, especially space. If STEM is something that you enjoy doing, you should absolutely go for it. It's not going to be easy right off the bat — STEM majors and programs are inherently hard regardless of gender. But if you keep with it and stay motivated, you'll be rewarded for it.
Take the time to explore what you enjoy doing (whether it's STEM or anything else). Try as many different things as it takes until one of them sticks. And if you're really stuck, find a mentor who can provide direction and guidance. You've got a whole community of women standing behind you!
Stephanie Ku, Content Engineer
It can still be challenging as a woman to be heard, seen, and recognized. But the skills and traits that women offer are increasingly being recognized for the objective value they hold, and both women and men are working together to create new mechanisms for women to enter the STEM pipeline and thrive in the field. I am grateful for every opportunity I have to work alongside women in STEM. They have inspired me with empathetic leadership, technical mastery, and wild creativity.
Take a chance on yourself by doing what you love, no matter what anyone else thinks.
Jill Grier, Quality Process Engineer
I never thought I wanted to be an engineer until my high school math and chemistry teachers said I'd be good at it. I'm happy I listened to them. In general, women are still outnumbered in STEM, but the gap is closing. It has been empowering to work with women who have successful careers breaking down walls and to see what they have accomplished by being driven, smart and fierce.
Forget the stereotypes. The world of STEM is unlimited, so take advantage of the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of a changing world. The possibilities are endless.
Darby LaPlant, Materials Analyst Intern
It's been really great working with and getting to know other women in STEM. It's really nice to be around a lot of women who have similar experiences and I feel really comfortable around. To girls thinking about getting into STEM, go for it! It's not always easy, but ask questions often. We learn by being curious, and if you love what you're learning and doing, never stop asking questions!
Olivia Chong, Mechanical Engineering Intern
I've been a big DIY person ever since I was a child. I'd design and sew my own clothes, create my own recipes, or build my own furniture. Engineering was just an extension of my creative ability. Working alongside women in STEM has been inspiring. It's like always getting to collaborate with your role models. Don't ever be afraid to ask for help. Studying STEM has been challenging, but there's always someone (or someone who knows someone) that can help. I would not be where I am without my friends, family, and mentors.