In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, 23 June 2020, we spoke to Dr Tijana Timotijevic, Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering, about her career and experiences working in the engineering field.
Dr Tijana Timotijevic joined Queen Mary in 2008, after several years of working in telecoms industry. She is a lecturer and teaches electronics and electromagnetism in the second year, and control systems in the third year of electronic and electrical engineering undergraduate degree. She leads the Electronics Teaching Group that collaborates on the development of curriculum, pedagogy and practical aspects of teaching electronics-related modules on the EEE.
Teaching is a very rewarding profession; it is great to see young people flourish through a process of learning and as a result of your teaching efforts. I enjoy the conversations and discussions with my students, and it gives me great pleasure to see them grow and mature through their university studies.
Teaching in itself is a very creative and intellectually stimulating activity: it brings together professional experience, discipline knowledge, psychology of learning, communication at different levels with different stakeholders, stage performance, and clever ways of designing the curriculum to maximise learning depth and efficiency. Working with colleagues to address operational, organisational and complex systems issues of coordinated teaching delivery is also very stimulating.
Diversity in engineering appears to be very cultural-based. I come from a country where women went into engineering in large numbers, and where mathematics was seen as a gender-neutral subject. It is shocking to see such a strong gender bias in engineering in much of the Western world. I feel very strongly that change is needed, but not only because it would produce better outcomes in terms of quality of solutions offered by the engineering industries, but also because it would offer women greater earnings, job security, prospects, and flexibility if they need to balance work and family life. Women are highly analytical and they think big: they consider the social impact and are motivated by social development, in their design they pay attention to usability, and these dimensions are greatly needed in the new developments today.
No. I don’t look for role models. We are often fed images of successful women, and then it turns out that they dedicated all of their wakeful hours working to achieve that success, typically defined as achievement in work. Success can be defined in many ways, and being curious and having a life enriched by learning and positive human interactions is what I think is more important. The engineering profession offers the possibility to live such a life.
Go for it! There will be plenty of possibilities to carve the path you’d like for yourself and to switch and change and vary what you do as you develop and change. Engineering will not only offer intellectual challenges, but also good earnings which will make you as financially independent as possible. And in case you end up working in a male-dominated workplace, keep your confidence, stay outspoken, and never take a “no” for an answer!