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Sunday Business Page: Women Engineers

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KDKA's Jon Delano spoke with Ashley Zulueta, President of the Society of Women Engineers' Pittsburgh Section, about how female engineers have preserved in a male-dominated industry and the challenges they still face.

Video Transcript

- This is "The Sunday Business Page" with Jon Delano.

JON DELANO: Good morning. I'm John Delano. Welcome to another home edition of "The Sunday Business Page." And our very special guest today is Ashley Zulueta, who is president of the Society of Women Engineers, Pittsburgh section. Miss Zulueta, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Morning, Jon. Thanks for having me.

JON DELANO: Women engineers-- you know, a lot of folks think that such a male-dominated industry. But it has changed a lot, even here in Pittsburgh, hasn't it?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Yeah, so women are continuing to join in on engineering. But we're still not equal to the amount of men who are in engineering.

JON DELANO: Yes, I was looking at some of the figures. And I noticed that only 13% of engineers are women. That's better than the old, old days when I was 100% male. But you still have a ways to go. Is engineering a good career for women?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: It certainly is. You know, it allows you to be creative and apply math and science principles to solve everyday problems.

JON DELANO: Is there a particular kind of engineer that women are attracted to?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Yeah, so there are-- I mean, any discipline really women will get into, so mechanical, electrical, biomedical, chemical. There are certainly different kinds for women.

JON DELANO: May I ask what your engineering specialty is?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Yeah, so I am a biomedical engineer.

JON DELANO: What exactly does that mean?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: That means that you learn a lot about the human anatomy and physiology and medical conditions. And you apply math and science principles to create technologies that help improve you know, diseases or certain conditions out there.

JON DELANO: I know that computer science and computer engineering-- that's also part of-- of engineering. Do you have a lot of folks who are engaged in that here in Pittsburgh-- women, I should say?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Yeah, so there's a lot of things, especially in the robotics area for computer sciences to develop, different software to control hardware and such, things like that. So there's definitely a lot of opportunities out there.

JON DELANO: Tell me a little bit about your Society of Women Engineers, the Pittsburgh section that you're the head of. Do you have a lot of members?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Yeah, so we have about 174 members right now. And we like to-- we focus a lot on outreach events, so educating girls K-12 and high schoolers on what is the field of engineering and how they too, can be successful in it. We have mentors. We have programming and social events for our members to get to know each other and also fundraising events.

JON DELANO: If I recall correctly, you may also be working-- or maybe is it a separate section for college students who are-- women who are studying to be engineers. How does that work?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Yeah, so the society has different sections. So the section that I'm president of is our professional section. But there are also collegiate sections at the different universities. And they focus on their college groups and. The professional section also supports them in educating them on you know, once you become an engineer, this is what it looks like and this is what you do on a daily basis.

JON DELANO: I read a statistic that 30% of women who leave the engineering profession cite the organizational climate as the reason. Is there a lot of discrimination against women engineers in this male-dominated profession?

ASHLEY ZULUETA: So it may not be specifically discrimination. But of course, if you know, you're the minority in the group, you don't really see as much representation in leadership as you would in other professions. So having-- you know, being part of SWE, you have that support system that will-- you know, they have different workshops that teach you how to deal with things like this and be more empowered in your field.

JON DELANO: And finally, speaking of workshops and the like, you've got a professional day coming up on May 22. Tell us what that's about.

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Yeah, so every year, the SWE Pittsburgh professional section throws a professional development day, where there's different panel discussions, corporate presentations, and things like that to help you out in your career. This year, we're going completely virtual. So it's open to anyone geographically, as well as anyone in tech interested in learning things such as pivoting in your career, keeping up with industry trends, things of that nature.

JON DELANO: Well, Ashely Zulueta, who is the president of the Society of Women Engineers, Pittsburgh section, you so much for spending time with us today. I really appreciate it.

ASHLEY ZULUETA: Thank you, Jon.

JON DELANO: And thank you for watching us on this edition of the "Sunday Business Page." Have a great Sunday, everybody.