Rice BIOE celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

Inspiration and advice from six women in the Rice BIOE community.

Top, from left: Kathryn Kundrod, Gisele Calderon, Marjan Majid, Satya Bellamkonda, Melody Tan and Jennifer Connell.

International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), established in 2014 by the Women’s Engineering Society to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the field, is celebrated this year on June 23. The event has gained popularity and become a global celebration. It aims to raise the profile and celebrate the achievements of women and encourage girls to enter the field.

In observance of the day, six women from the Rice University Department of Bioengineering share insights from various stages in their careers.

On why they chose bioengineering

“I became interested in bioengineering because I loved being able to work on tangible solutions that could improve access to healthcare. Bioengineering combines a problem-solving approach that I enjoy with applications that motivate me.” — Kathryn Kundrod, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Rebecca Richards-Kortum.

“I always wanted my career to have translational impact, generally helping people. With bioengineering, our work can impact so many lives! Imagine - some design of a drug, discovery of an important fluidic vascular mechanism, application of biology to medicine - that can revolutionize not just one patient at a time, but affect the way we implement healthcare! I wanted to be part of this grand goal and pursuing bioengineering was my way to achieve that.” — Gisele Calderon, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Jordan Miller.

"I pursued a career in bioengineering because I really care about helping people, and the technologies that bioengineers create can make a great impact on the medical world." — Marjan Majid, Ph.D. student in the lab of Antonios Mikos.

Advice for women interested in pursuing a career in engineering

"Being a woman in male-dominated fields is challenging, so it is vital to have a supportive community (co-workers, mentors, SWE or AWIS, etc) that can comprehend, guide, and encourage you through difficult situations." — Satya Bellamkonda, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Michael Diehl.

“Unfortunately, sexism is pervasive in engineering—call it out when you can and always remember you deserve to be here. Also, invest in building a life outside grad school and work, whether through community engagement, mentoring, family, etc. It makes a difference.” — Melody Tan, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Rebecca Richards-Kortum.

"Everyone always talks about finding mentors, which is obviously very important, but I would also highlight the importance of finding a peer group to support each other. School, both undergraduate and graduate, became a lot more enjoyable when I had peers with whom I could learn and bounce ideas around, as well as commiserate and support each other in the really difficult times." — Jennifer Connell, Ph.D., lab manager and research scientist in the lab of Jane Grande-Allen and Rice bioengineering Ph.D. alumna.

International Women in Engineering Day is Sunday, June 23, 2019.