#WomenInScience – Strong women at EPC In technical professions and management positions, women are still considered exotic even in our modern, emancipated age. Yet they are in no way inferior to their male colleagues and often provide new approaches and an empathetic working atmosphere.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, there is a special focus on the role of women in our society. In our group of companies, however, strong women are not only promoted and challenged on this one day, but throughout the year.
In our new interview series:
#WomenInScience – Strong Women at EPC
we present one of our female employees every month. They talk about their experiences in a male-dominated industry and tell us what they love about their job. Our goal is to inspire even more women to pursue careers such as engineering, chemistry and process technology:
Woman in Science
What do you particularly like about your job?
The many different challenges. Every project, every customer, every country is different. Accordingly, there are new challenges with every project and also new experiences that you can gain.
Have you ever been confronted with prejudices in your job? How did you deal with it?
It does happen that you are confronted with prejudices as a woman in a male-dominated professional field. In my opinion, however, it depends very much on the character of the other person. At first, it made me feel insecure, but in the meantime I no longer have a problem with it. I haven’t been in a situation like that for a long time. My strategy is to just be myself and not let myself get insecure. I believe that if you stand by yourself as a woman, many prejudices dissolve all by themselves, because with an authentic appearance you take away the basis for your prejudices from the other person.
What skills do you have to have in order to assert yourself and be successful in a male-dominated professional field?
I don’t think you have to have any special skills for male-dominated occupational fields. A certain assertiveness is certainly an advantage. But I think that many women can bring a lot of positive input into male teams, especially with their social skills.
In general, how do you see the opportunities for women in the job market applying in a technical environment? What career opportunities do you see specifically in the engineering sector?
Many women still don’t dare to enter male-dominated professions. In my opinion, the career opportunities are not that bad. We don’t have any prejudices against hiring women; unfortunately, far too few apply. These professions should therefore simply be made better known to women. For example, technical professions could be presented even more in schools and thus arouse interest.
What tips would you like to give to aspiring female engineers?
It’s important to be authentic, to remain yourself and not let yourself feel insecure. And you have to take into account that men and women are different, but you should try to take advantage of these differences.
Sofia König has been working at EPC Engineering & Technologies GmbH in Rudolstadt since the beginning of 2007. As a career changer, she initially started as a clerk in the export department. Her tasks range from the preparation and translation of foreign trade contracts and supplements, translation of engineering documents to export and import processing, project coordination between client and suppliers, as well as communication and correspondence with customers. Her “all-purpose” approach has allowed her to gain extensive experience in a variety of fields and to develop her skills. In the future, her focus will be on projects from the Russian-speaking region.
What do you particularly like about your job?
My work is very varied and demanding, requiring extensive knowledge in a wide range of areas, such as contracts and technical matters. Handling complex and demanding projects is always a challenge for me. But it also gives me the opportunity to learn new things, exchange experiences and maintain contacts with business partners.
How did you get your current job?
Because of my Russian language skills, I was hired as a lateral hire in the export department at EPC. Over the past few years, I have become very familiar with this area of responsibility and have gained extensive experience in foreign trade, especially for the Eastern European region. By participating in numerous seminars, I was able to acquire additional specialist knowledge, e.g. in customs and foreign trade law. My in-service training to become a specialist in purchasing and logistics will enable me to take on challenging tasks as a project manager in the future.
Have you ever been confronted with prejudice in your job? How did you deal with it?
In my opinion, prejudice exists both in professional life, but also on a private level. To me, this behavior means that subconsciously the person may have already had bad experiences in certain situations. This “pigeonhole thinking” influences personal attitudes towards other people and leads to persisting in one’s point of view and not acknowledging other opinions. When I am in a situation where I am confronted with prejudice, I consider it important to be open and honest about it.
What skills do you need to be able to assert yourself and be successful in a male-dominated professional field?
From my point of view, the ability to work in a team is the most important thing in my profession. You can only be as good as your team. Due to the fact that you mainly work with male colleagues, you should definitely have a certain assertiveness as a woman.
What has been your biggest professional challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Every project is a challenge, but I would describe the last project with a customer from Russia as the most difficult and extensive. Not only was knowledge of the German export business required here, but it also required good knowledge of Russian import customs in order to be able to handle the project without any problems. Thanks to the support of my colleagues and our business partners, we were able to successfully master these challenges and gained a great deal of new knowledge as a result.