Prajakta Sontakke, a female engineer for item West wants to encourage women who are pursuing careers within engineering to not let fear of the industry take hold of them and to instead face their challenges head on.
“I would say that it’s going to be difficult, but be prepared for it to be difficult. But just because it is difficult doesn’t make it something only a guy can do.” Sontakke said.
While the job may be difficult, Sontakke takes great pride in helping her company find solutions to problems and enjoys her position tremendously. “The most fun part is going back into the workshop to understand the problems and designs and finding hands on solutions.” She said, “The most satisfying aspect of what we do here is designing everything from scratch as a mechanical engineer. You are completely responsible for making it work, and seeing it built is the best thing.”
Her words are proof of what many studies have discovered: women who are successful in the various fields of engineering enjoy overcoming the obstacles and solving the problems that come with it. These studies have also shown that the best way to retain female employees in engineering and other areas of STEM isn’t by coddling them; it’s by assigning the challenging projects to a variety of diverse groups.
For women in engineering or who are currently pursuing a degree in this field, Sontakke wants them to continue to persevere without trying to conform to social standards others may place on women who choose engineering as a profession. “Just go for it, and don’t try to fit in, you can just stand out,” she said.
While workplace inclusivity is important for various areas such as salary, advancement, and work distribution, it is important that women in engineering take Sontakke’s advice to stand out within the company and their field in order to become role models for aspiring female engineers. Women who refuse to stick to a status quo are the ones who make great discoveries, advancements, and become leaders not only within their specialization, but also within society.
Sontakke is not only paving the way for female engineers at item, she is also showing young females that they are capable of reaching any goal as long as they are willing to put in the effort.