Women Field Engineers share their tips and experience – Part 2

Field engineering still tends to have a higher proportion of men than women. This is changing more in some sectors than others. What is it like to be a woman field engineer? In this article women field engineers share their tips and experience.

A Coating Engineer from Indonesia

Alfina Nurul Haqoh on site by sea contributor to Women Field Engineers share their tips and experience

Alfina Nurul Haqoh is a Coating Production Engineer for McDermott International Ltd.


Who were your mentors/who encouraged you?
Many strong women encouraged and shaped who I am today.
It started from my mother. Even though she’s not an engineer, her persistence inspired me to pursue my dream to become an engineer.
I also saw many brilliant women engineers when I studied at the Metallurgical Engineering Department, Universitas Indonesia.
After I graduated, I started work and met another person who became a mentor to me, Mrs. Mentari. (She is currently a welding inspector).
She is a brilliant example of the bravery, courage and vulnerability required to shake things up, and to get work done. When I started my first offshore platform project, I knew nothing about the environment, work culture and everything in between. I dare say, I had a little doubt and was a little scared before entering this role. Meeting my mentor, at that point was a great help and I am really grateful to her. Empowering, supporting and protecting are what she did for me. I remember when there was a problem and I nearly couldn’t handle myself, she calmed me down and guided me to anchor my feet.

Alfina Nurul Haqoh working on pipes


What advice would you give to women field engineers in terms of safety/security/being out in the field?

During my orientation, besides taking the safety induction courses, I always identify the risk first. After identifying the risk, we can choose the best action to keep ourselves secure. For example, ensuring the scaffolding and equipment are safe.
The company’s policy has a huge impact on creating a safe and secure environment for women to work in the field.
For example, the place I work now, McDermott Indonesia, have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programme to promote equal opportunity and improve organizational performance. Through this programme, the company also pave the way to create the kind of working environment that produces efficiency and safety at work.

Confidence – tips to share for women field engineers

What are your tips for feeling confident and not out of place?

Fighting gender stereotypes motivated me to be an engineer. For this I must work twice as hard as men to finally have the recognition.
I also believe that not only are women just as capable as men, but that they too can play a strategic role in building the future, even better. Women outperform men on emotional intelligence as we have strong instinct, are more sensitive, have a personal approach and a nurturing way to lead other team members.

A Wastewater Treatment Specialist from North Carolina

Robin Deal has many years of experience in making wastewater safe.
In her current role, she educates many Water Quality Protectors and helps them understand the importance of what they do and how their success impacts individuals, companies, and entire communities.

Robin is the Vice Chair of the local American Water Works Association and works for Hubbard-Hall. She explained more about the technical side of her work in an earlier blog – Keeping our rivers clean.

Robin Deal contributor to Women Field Engineers share their tips and experience with chemicals in warehouse


Who were your mentors/who encouraged you?

My first mentor, and a man I admire greatly, is Matt Somers. He encouraged me to move out of being an operator and into the field engineer role. I still call him when I am overwhelmed and need advice.
Secondly is Molly Kellogg. Her vision for Hubbard-Hall is one I admire and 100% stand behind. She never stops encouraging me to pursue more education and to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone so that I can grow.


What advice would you give to women field engineers in terms of safety/security/being out in the field?

ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings.
Wear PPE that fits you and is comfortable so that you don’t need to take it off.
I was working in the field with some contractors who were installing some equipment on a roof. One of the guys did not like the way his hard hat fit, so he took it off. He was rushing through the stairs to the roof for the first time whilst carrying tools when he ran straight into the top of the door. Unfortunately, he did not notice the “watch your head” sign or the safety tape on the door frame indicating it was a lower entrance. He needed several stiches on top of the concussion he gave himself.
Wear gloves whenever you are working. People do not realize how many times a day they touch their face, but it is a lot. In the wastewater world it is so easy to get chemicals or biohazardous substances on your hands, then you rub an eye or touch your face. Wearing your gloves cannot be stressed enough.


If you are traveling alone, be cautious of who you tell that to. Do not give out phone numbers or emails to just anyone. I had a guy who was an employee of a customer start calling me in the middle of the night and texting requests for pictures. It made me extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed. I had to go to my manager and HR department to request not to be sent back to that company. They notified the company what was going on. I had to advocate for myself in an uncomfortable situation. By doing that I was able to gain confidence in myself and my employer. I shared my phone number with the operator so he could call if there was an issue with the system, not as a way to get attention from him.

Robin Deal in lab with chemicals

Confidence – tips to share for women field engineers

What are your tips for feeling confident and not out of place?

According to HRD (Human Resources Director) 90% of female employees suffer from imposter syndrome compared to 80% of male employees.
The first step to overcoming this is recognizing we have a seat at the table. We are smart, capable people who have earned our right to be in the STEM field. We have the education, we have the knowhow, we have the desire and drive to be part of this community. Don’t be afraid to speak up and give your input. Look for mentors who encourage you to be the best you can be. Mentor the younger generation and give them the courage to step up into higher positions. Don’t be afraid to tell your story. You are important to this career path.

Encouraging women

The number of women in field engineering is increasing. How can this be helped?

Encourage every female you meet who shows the slightest interest in STEM to take classes and learn more about the field. It has to start early. Talk about women in the field you met and admire. Talk about the good things that we do. Go to local schools and demonstrate parts of your job. Share your knowledge and interests with anyone who asks. Don’t just say “I work in the water industry.” Explain what you do and how you accomplish it.

A Field Sales Engineer from England

Rachel Wakelin has worked in field sales – Industrial Components and Electronics – for some time and most recently worked for Phoenix Contact covering East Anglia in the UK. Phoenix Contact UK is a global market leader and innovator in the manufacture of automation and control, e-mobility, power, networking and smart technology.

Rachel Wakelin


Who were your mentors/who encouraged you?
Growing up I always had an inquisitive mind. “Why does that do that?” and, “well how does it work?” There was no Google, Alexa or Siri to ask, you had to research it for yourself, either by visiting the library or looking it up in the Encyclopaedia Britannica set my dad had bought from a door-to-door salesman.
My parents never differentiated between my brother and I with girls’ and boys’ toys. If my brother wanted to play with dolls he would have been allowed to, (although my dad would probably have ribbed him for it) and vice versa. If I wanted matchbox cars and dinosaurs, then that too was ok.
My biggest cheerleader, mentor and best friend was my Nan, born in West London in the 1920s. She survived WW2 and digging my dad (as a baby) out from the rubble left from the bombing of their family home. A former London taxi driver and pub landlord, she was fearless. I wanted to be just like her. She taught me that gender was irrelevant and that I could do anything just as well as a man, sometimes even better. Her saying was:
“Find something you are passionate about and do that.
Stand up for what you believe in and be independent of a man”

Safety advice

What advice would you give to women field engineers in terms of safety/security/being out in the field?
Anyone working independently needs to be cautious but especially women out in the field working alone.
From my experience and the experience of other women I would give the following five tips.
If you are going out on site with a customer to different locations, follow them in your own car.
Call a co-worker and let them know where you are going, when you arrive, and when you leave. Do this for every site visit and it will become a habit.
Keep your phone on to allow share of location.
Have prearranged call check in times with a co-worker.
At work social events ask a trusted male colleague to either walk you to your vehicle or your room at the end of the evening.

Rachel Wakelin

Confidence – tips to share for women field engineers

What are your tips for feeling confident and not out of place?
Always do these three things:
Hold your head up high
Walk in and own the room
Don’t let people belittle you or make you feel as though you don’t deserve to be there on your own merits.
One of the most satisfying moments is when people who expect you to not know anything, finally realise that you do.
If you receive an inappropriate comment, then don’t take it personally. Although, that can be hard. Just stand tall as more people than not will be on your side and support your progress within your field.

Increasing the number of women in field engineering

The number of women in field engineering is increasing. How can this be helped?
Personally, I think the hard work of more females going into STEM careers lays with the parents. Then it is down to teachers at the school supporting females in usually male oriented classes.

Can you give a specific current example?
Laura Giddings, CEO of The Stem Project is enthusiastic about more females in STEM.

RS Components had a truck called Titan 2 which would introduce schools, colleges, universities amongst other places into what sort of careers engineering could lead to.
We had some of the major players’ products on board, for example:
Phoenix Contact

It was a good platform to show youngsters different aspects of engineering including safety, 3d printers, pcb circuit boards, sensors, robots, and VR (virtual reality) games. Laura was great at encouraging children and advising girls specifically not to follow the crowd but to drive towards something that they are interested in. I found it a great experience to be part of the project.

Further reading – Women Field Engineers share their tips and experience

Advice For Women Engineers Working In Gender Imbalanced Teams

Worth Sharing!

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