As part of an eventful week of career-related programming, Carleton’s Co-op and Career Services recently hosted an all-new networking evening aimed at celebrating and promoting diversity within the engineering and technology industry.
On January 23, more than 200 students and recent graduates, many from underrepresented groups, filled Richcraft Hall’s atrium to meet and mingle with professionals from more than twenty engineering and information technology firms who are dedicated to creating a diverse workforce, including the event’s presenting sponsor Ericsson, as well as supporting sponsors Amdocs, SNC Lavalin and the Faculty of Engineering and Design.
Partway through the evening keynote speaker Sashieka Seneviratne, a Senior Hardware Designer with Ericsson, delivered a talk in which she emphasized the vital role women play across engineering fields. Drawing from her own experiences in the tech industry, Seneviratne illustrated how aspiring female engineers should pursue their interests and goals without worrying about their gender having an impact on their career prospects.
“The minute I stopped worrying about what other people might think and started focusing on what I know I can accomplish, it opened new doors,” she said. “If and when you come across those moments of doubt, just remember that you alone know the true potential of who you can become.”
Seneviratne’s speech also addressed how preconceived gender roles should not define a person’s abilities and future. Instead, she emphasized her belief that anything can be achieved by those who are willing to work hard at it.
“Growing up I never had good hand-eye coordination, so when I started working in the lab in the first years of my career, my soldering was horrendous,” she explained. “One day I made a decision to change that and began to practice regularly. The more time I spent working on that skill, the more confidence I gained and eventually I became so comfortable with soldering that it simply became second nature.”
While Seneviratne acknowledged that there is still work to be done to achieve broader diversity throughout the engineering and technology industry, she also shared her optimism for the future, using her closing remarks to encourage traditionally underrepresented individuals who are considering a career in engineering.
“If you are a woman interested in technology, a minority or any one that’s experiencing any type of bias, embrace who you are,” she said. “Each and every one of you will make an impact and help to bring diverse ideas to the table.”