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Women in Engineering in Malaysia

Our female engineering staff are inspiring the next generation of students to discover the amazing career opportunities open to women in the broad field of engineering.

Meet some of the academics at our Malaysia Campus and find out how they are supporting the next generation of female engineers.

Dr Suhaila Mohd Sanip, Director of Strategic Engagements and Partnerships, former Head of Research and Associate Professor of Engineering

Dr Suhaila Mohd Sanip
Dr Suhaila Mohd Sanip

Dr Suhaila Mohd Sanip has a natural curiosity for science, and enjoys trying to understand ‘the how and why’. Throughout her career, Suhaila has always been involved in research, but establishing the University of Southampton Malaysia Campus in her hometown of Johor was a good opportunity to experience a new challenge.

"The campus is in a new development zone, Iskandar, and I am proud to be a part of this new development in my home state of Johor," she says.

Suhaila was invited to be a committee member on the prestigious Professor Council Malaysia, and was awarded funding to run a public initiative programme, Women in Stem: Closing the Gender Gap.  This programme, which involved a workshop and seminar, was attended by over 100 schoolgirls, who were motivated to look into the STEM area as a future career.

"Seeing increasing numbers of women enrol to study Engineering at the Malaysia campus is very satisfying and something I look forward to growing in the future with more women in STEM events," says Suhaila.

When asked for advice for female students looking to pursue a career in engineering, Suhaila says: "It takes determination, perseverance and a lot of hard work, but retain your creative thinking and think outside of the box to come up with solutions."

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Dr Grace Chai, Lecturer in Optoelectronics and Engineering

Dr Grace Chai
Dr Grace Chai

Dr Grace Chai has had a love of problem solving, mathematics and physics since a young age. Encouraged by her parents to seek a career in engineering, she chose to major in optical engineering as “light is very mysterious”. She is actively involved in nurturing students in STEM subjects in Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia, and was one of the organisers of the first Women in STEM: Closing the Gender Gap programme, held in Johor in November 2017.

"I encourage all girls to pursue engineering if you are an inquisitive person, who likes to find solutions to problems," she says. "It is my opinion that women do better in certain engineering fields such as electronics, as it often requires a lot of imagination".

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Dr Ch'ng Shiau Ying, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering

Dr Ch'ng Shiau Ying
Dr Ch'ng Shiau Ying

Dr Ch'ng Shiau Ying had a strong role model in her elder brother, so it seemed natural for her to follow him into engineering. They studied at the same university, and now they both have rewarding careers in the same area. When becoming a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, Ch'ng has had to overcome some barriers. However, she notes that women make excellent mechanical engineers, and she sees them perform as well as their male counterparts.

Ch’ng advises: “Retain your curiosity, and don’t be afraid to learn from your failures. There are certain things in engineering that will be challenging, but it's not impossible to overcome.”

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 Thenmoly Letchmanan, Year 2 Meng Electrical and Electronics Engineering



Thenmoly Letchmanan

Many others discouraged Thenu, claiming that engineering is a male-dominated sector in which she would struggle to flourish. She, on the other hand, used the discouragement as a driving force to advance in her chosen career.Thenu aspires to be a successful engineer like her brother.

“First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to UEM for sponsoring and providing me with this chance to study at the University of Southampton Malaysia. The chance allowed me to discover my professional path at a university where I can investigate a variety of alternatives linked to my course.

During my first year here, I had a lot of trouble keeping up with the lecture schedule. But now that I'm acclimated to it and have professors to advise me, I'm doing much better in terms of comprehending and finishing assignments and courseworks.

As a consequence of participation in numerous laboratory activities and projects, I was able to investigate engineering theories in greater depth and complexity. Individual first-year projects, such as design exercises, were built to put programming skills to the test. This sparked my curiosity and piqued my desire to learn more about artificial intelligence."

She urges other young women to pursue engineering careers if they are interested, as it will provide them with the finest opportunity to push themselves and establish their own identity in their desired field.

Thenu advises, “Anything worth having requires effort, so put up your best effort to get to where you want to be.”

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