Naomi Mathers - 2016-17 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Industry Liaison Engineer, Australian National University
Country of Birth: Australia
I was planning to study science at university, but I was lucky to have a careers advisor who opened my eyes to aerospace engineering. I was immediately attracted by the cutting-edge technology, the complex problems and the opportunity to work on projects that would contribute to making people’s lives better.
I work with researchers, companies, students, and government representatives to initiate and deliver programs that create new knowledge, translate that knowledge into innovative solutions for industry, and train our future workforce.
Juggling study, research, and then work, as a single mother, was a huge challenge but it also provided balance and a great deal of joy in my life. My mindset is very much “what is the best way to achieve the outcome we want?” not “this is the system, what outcome can we get?” Believe in yourself and be brave enough to contact people working in that field to find out what is really happening.
Go for it! There are so many options in STEM, and no doors are closed to you. Like everybody else, you have to work hard and find your niche, but you can have the most amazing career and work with the most incredible people. Have a focus but be open to new opportunities as they are presented.
There are times when you will encounter unconscious bias. Don’t let it stop you, call it out when you see others displaying it, and learn to identify the unconscious biases you might have. Diversity is not just a gender issue. We all benefit from diversity of gender, age, ethnicity, disciplines, and more. Embrace it!