This year for International Women’s Day 2019, UN Women are championing the theme “Think equal. Build Smart. Innovate for change”, with a focus on advancing female empowerment and gender equality.
Despite growing numbers of women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in recent years, male employees still account for the vast majority of roles within these industries. Across the globe, UNESCO estimate that just 30% of STEM researchers across the world are women.
For the EU, that figure increases to 41%. The OECD has recognised that with higher salary jobs and careers within science & engineering, the lack of women in these industries poses a serious issue for gender equality and closing the gender gap.
To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we asked the women of Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology about their roles and how they entered their respective careers within the STEM industry. They comprise applications engineers, buyers, technicians and more. They all buck the trend and play a part in providing nanotechnology solutions for hundreds of companies every year.
After finishing my doctorate and moving to Bristol 5 years ago, Oxford Instruments offered me a job as an Applications Technician which I thought was a great opportunity to try something new. Since then I've gained a lot of knowledge and experience and been promoted twice, ending up in my current role.
As a Senior Applications Engineer, I work in a clean-room developing the processes used for semiconductor manufacturing. I specialise in the plasma etching of materials such as indium phosphide and gallium arsenide. A big part of my job is working with customers to make sure that our machines can deliver the results that they need, and with our sales team to attract new customers.
Working in a lab environment is never easy! The biggest challenge in my job is being able to perfect a process even with less-than-ideal information and less-than-ideal samples, but that does make it more satisfying when I get it right.
I enjoy the science involved in plasma chemistry; it's a well-developed field but there are still new processes and techniques being invented every year. My job has a lot of variety, which keeps it interesting, and there are also opportunities for travel. I visit customers around the world to see our processes being used in production.
My background is business-oriented and I previously worked 5 years in the Middle East within the construction area. Business skills are transversal and give me the freedom to work in different fields. To reinforce my expertise, I am currently studying for an MBA.
As a service sales co-ordinator I mainly take care of the system upgrades for Oxford Instruments. My role covers a broad range of actions, from loading the order to ensuring that the upgrade is ready to ship. I liaise with most of the departments to assure that we are on track - engineering, planning, build, and shipping teams – as well as the EMEA, Asia and US sales team to identify the business opportunities.
Oxford Instruments operates in a niche market and you can quickly be overwhelmed by the technical jargon relating to nanotechnology. However, you can always find someone ready to share their knowledge and give you more input on the technology.
I always enjoyed working in a fast pace environment and the upgrades department gives me the opportunity to challenge and improve our delivery of tailored solutions. I like seeing my role as project management oriented, it helps me to see the bigger picture of the business.
I graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Law and Marketing before spending many years in the purchasing arena, which then led me to my current job at Oxford Instruments. I have been fortunate to have opportunities to spend time in Austin, Texas working in an operations role and am now working in Commercial Operations and Service.
In commercial operations we deal with the opportunity pipeline and forecasting, working closely with the external sales teams across the world. We deal with contracts and sales orders, ensuring they are accurate and communicated. My main priority is looking after my team and I work cross-functionally with all areas of the business on a daily basis.
People are always the biggest challenge in any job. I have to know how to motivate, adapt and work with a wide variety of personalities to meet a common business goal.
I find the variety and urgency of the work that I do very satisfying. The pressure is balanced with the reward of meeting the demands of our business and it’s good to feel that I am a key cog in the wheels of a bigger team.
At university, I studied History and Politics and then went into Sales roles, which I loved. I started to notice the calibre of the Sales Managers and the culture of the company made an incredible difference to what sales people achieved. This got me interested in HR, so I started studying part time, eventually culminating into an MBA. From my first role as an HR Administrator, I have never looked back.
There is no day to day in HR, it is variety and novelty. I can be talking business strategy one minute, recruiting people the next, dealing with performance issues, or creating development plans. As HR Director, I’m always thinking about what signal the activities we do are sending to employees, such as what’s important to the business and the culture.
This is a job you take home with you as you are dealing with people who matter to you. You will make some hard decisions, from redundancies to disciplinaries but how you do this can make all the difference to the person involved.
Being in HR will pull on your heart strings, whether it be the pride you feel as you see people develop and grow in your company, or the empathy you feel as you help colleagues through all sorts of different challenges inside and outside of work and outside work.
I applied for my first job as a buyer assistant in a retail clothing company because of the fashion industry, but after working there for a few months I realised that I loved the fact that I could see what was needed as a final product. Since then, I decided to continue my career as a buyer.
My role involves sending orders to cover the new demands, negotiate with suppliers to obtain the best possible lead time and price, and ensure the delivery dates are available to all my colleagues.
Sometimes there are situations that we can't control, like a late delivery date, and we must find an alternative way to expedite the deliveries. It’s part of the game and it's what keeps it interesting.
As a buyer, I enjoy the opportunity to see how important each part is to complete a product. It is like putting together a jigsaw and my role is to find the correct parts. My favourite part is when an important part arrives and I get to share the good news with the person who requires it.
In the 4th year of my Undergraduate Chemistry degree, I worked on a project in a lab that designed and synthesized chemicals to be used for ALD. I enjoyed this work and decided to pursue a Ph.D. under the same supervisor. The big ALD companies are in Europe, Asia and the USA, so I always knew I have to travel outside of Canada for my career. I chose Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology because liked the excitement of the role.
My days are usually very busy; each day is different. I work on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) systems, developing or improving recipes and processes, communicating with customers about their projects, having meetings with the team about projects, and analysing data. Sometimes customers visit our site which I host, giving them a tour the facilities, run a live material demonstration and teach them about ALD and our solutions. There is never a dull moment.
The pressure of demonstrations is sometimes challenging because system sales are often heavily dependent on their results. Luckily, we have a width breadth of knowledge on our team and we are always helping each other to put our best effort forward.
I enjoy working with our team to help customers find solutions. I get to learn about a variety of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) applications and create new ways to achieve film targets. I particularly like the hands-on Research and Development (R&D) aspect, which involves a lot of idea generation and creativity.
My journey started with gaining a Degree in Management Studies. I secured a career with Oxford Instruments through experience gained from a Division Buyer Role based in Sweden, as well as links to the UK.
As a Buyer, my main priority is outsourcing High Level Assemblies across OI Supply Chain Commodities. Secondly, I work as part of a cross-functional team for high value NPD (New Product Development) NPI (New Product Introduction) projects to provide commercial and purchasing support.
Getting the best from people, processes and business systems to achieve the overall objectives are the biggest challenges.
The most enjoyable part of working for Oxford Instruments is the constant challenge of the role and being able to make a difference by the opportunities given. It feels good and empowering to be part of a great team, not just in Procurement but across the entire business.