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Cynthia Hanson

Civil Servant
Country of birth: USA

Educational background: PhD and MSEE, University of California San Diego, USA; BSEE University of Michigan, USA


Cynthia Hanson

Who or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
During my freshman year at Michigan, I decided pre-med was not my thing. I was attracted to electrical engineering because I did well in math and I liked the idea of solving problems using math and science, and the potential of finding good job opportunities with a bachelor's degree. This worked out for me, but looking back I would advise women to shadow an engineer at work to see what a real workday is like. There are many different engineering settings, so explore various work environments.

Primary responsibilities of your current job
I am a government engineer and currently facilitate research in microelectronics by evaluating proposals and contractor performance to ensure the government's interests are served.

Biggest obstacle or challenge that you have faced in your career
It is hard to balance family and work, but I feel it is essential to a woman's well-being. Scheduling is difficult, so I advise working as close to home as possible. Then children's daycare, school, and doctors are all close by. It’s also important to have a good partner. One day those children will be gone and you want to be happy with the two of you again! Perhaps
most important is keeping fit! Morning workouts are the only way I've seen women stick to a schedule. Start it, get used to it, and stick to it while in town or traveling.

Advice you wish you had received when you were fi rst starting out
If you receive a higher degree, keep your "technical identity." Many woman are very good organizers and get cornered into applying this and forget about their own technical skills. The limited extra time while having children makes it hard to keep up. It is not easy to retain funding for activities such as research because of the overhead of writing proposals and the competition . But if you can keep up just a little, you'll have far more rewarding options in the second half of your career.