Part of the Oxford Instruments Group
Here come the girls!

Today marks International Women’s Day (IWD) – a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the globe.

This year’s theme #BeBoldForChange is calling on all of us to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.

Did you know that research indicates that the probability of female students graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree or a doctorate in a science-related field is significantly lower than that of male students? Only one in seven engineers is female. Where are all the women?!

We all want to do our bit to encourage more women to contribute to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). We live in a world dominated by Technology in our daily lives and we will all benefit from more women and girls in STEM roles.

Meet Agnieszka Kurek an ALD Applications Engineer

Tell us about yourself
After completing my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada in 2009, I was inspired by my thesis supervisor to commit to another six years in his lab to work on a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Although the pay was not great, the excitement of designing and synthesising new chemicals drove me to the finish line and I completed it in 2015. The application of the chemicals I worked on was for a process called Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). This is cutting edge technology that is used to make computer components tinier and phones slimmer each year. Worldwide, ALD is growing and I knew that I wanted to work in this field to be at the forefront of this boom. After graduating, I applied to Plasma Technology to a) start a career in the ALD industry and b) learn about plasma ALD, something I had no hands on experience with. So when I got the job offer, my husband, daughter and I happily packed our bags and moved across the pond.

How did you develop your interest in science and technology?
I have always been interested in how and why things work. I knew I wanted my career to go in that direction and so in high school I took mostly science and math courses to prepare for University. I didn’t settle on Chemistry as a course of study until my final year of high school. I had a really enthusiastic and patient, chemistry teacher whom I looked up to greatly and inspired me to learn more.

Who or what inspires you?
What inspires me now is the vast amount of talent and knowledge of my co-workers. It is humbling to work with so many people with so much experience. It keeps me on my toes, always learning more and getting better.  

What advice would you give to young women interested in pursuing STEM careers?
STEM roles can be very diverse and fulfilling, utilising all of the skills you learned in University: time management, problem solving, teamwork, multitasking, organisation, teaching etc. Currently, I am working on developing new ALD processes and technology. I also answer customer enquiries, deposit ALD thin materials on samples from customers, maintain the tools I work with, visit customer sites and occasionally travel to international conferences. There is always something new to learn in STEM careers!

Here at Plasma Technology we have a breadth of careers available to all women. We have women doing every kind of role, from Scientists, Technologists, Buyers, Planners, Sales, Commercial, Managers, Marketers, Customer Support, Reception, Finance, HR and more. The possibilities are endless and we encourage women to not be put off by traditional male dominated careers.  Each one of us can #BeBoldForChange by taking bold pragmatic actions to accelerate gender equality.