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Women in STEM Author Interview: Rubia Hassan

Posted on: January 27, 2023

What was your motivating factor to explore the STEM field?

In my school, I used to outperform in maths and science. That is when I knew that I must pursue my career in STEM and ended up landing in Materials Science and Engineering field. It is only after that I developed a special interest in Materials Engineering. The existence of infinite number of materials in nature, each with unique properties, and the curiosity of the human mind to develop new ones based on the need and desire is very fascinating. Knowing and researching about what grants these materials different properties and how with our intervention we can tailor and play with their properties has been a factor of motivation for me.

How can women support one another in the STEM field?

First and foremost, by coming forward and educating those who need our guidance. Identifying the interest in young women and providing mentorship to those who are willing to take this pathway. Besides, recognizing and understanding common problems which women face in this field and maybe create some kind of platform to discuss and address these issues. We need to amplify voices of one another and make sure everyone is heard. Acknowledge one another's worth and uplift the women around us. Empowering one another to embrace opportunities.

What needs to happen in the STEM field to attract more women?

To attract more women, we need to create a favourable environment for them. The system needs to provide flexibility so that women do not have to choose between their career and their family. We need to develop safe and welcoming environment for all. More awareness and more female representation along with financial (like fellowships) and infrastructural inititiatives can increase the female students' interest in STEM.

What skillset is beneficial for considering a pathway in STEM?

Every field, every pathway requires passion. Without passion one can enter any field but cannot keep going long, hence you need to be fuelled by passion. Curiosity to learn and critical thinking are a must in research. You need to possess and develop good communication skills as you will require communicating your work, be it in the form of research articles or presenting your work in a conference or writing projects. You would require interacting and collaborating with people for which you need to be collaborative in nature, keen to find new opportunities and at the same time provide opportunities to others.

How many disciplines within STEM does your work apply to?

My work is based on Materials Engineering and can be applied to Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry.

What motivates you to learn?

To keep up with the recent advancements in my field. To find new directions in which I can align my research work and have my contributions in different ways.

Which contributions in the field have inspired you to do more?

I think every single contribution which I come across everyday while studying or doing my research inspires and serves as a motivation for me to have my contribution. One inspiration from my very childhood memory which persists in my mind is when I was in school, and our teacher introduced Newton's law of gravity (you know "Newton's Apple story"). I was awestruct as this thought of "why things fall down rather than going up or for that matter just do not stay in the air" had been coming to my mind. I was like "here you go, we already have a universal law about it". That incident made me ponder that it is not just thinking why different things happen or different phenomenon occur but working and striving to find out the reason behind which leads to discoveries.