Ji Young Yoon, Mechanical Workshop Technician, Department of Bioengineering 

“Only 12% of women take up engineering roles in the UK, and the number is smaller for mechanical engineering.”

Part of Shifting the Lens: A celebration of cultural diversity at Imperial 

The workshop is where I belong. As a Mechanical Workshop Technician, I provide mechanical engineering consultancy, design and manufacture services and support teaching for students and staff. I look after the mechanics labs in the department, produce prototypes for research, perform mechanical testing and provide training for students so they can make projects work. It’s very much a student-facing role. The best part of my job is trying to transfer whatever I know to students. It’s rewarding to see them learning through real experience. 

When I was working in the US in the private sector, I volunteered with school students in the summers introducing them to STEM subjects, and I offered internships for university students with autism to help them prepare for graduation and finding a job. This volunteering experience made me think I might be interested in working in the education sector. 

There aren’t a lot of Asian women at Imperial in my type of job. You just don’t see yourself around. There are more stereotypes and bias relating to gender than to race in mechanical engineering. Only 12% of women take up engineering roles in the UK, and the number is smaller for mechanical engineering. Sometimes it can be difficult if you don’t have anyone like you in the workplace. If you don’t fit in, if the way you act, talk, or look isn’t like the people you work with, it can be quite lonely. 

People in my department are respectful but not all parts of the College feel welcoming. Sometimes you’re not sure if it’s because of your race, gender or sexuality – it can be subtle.  

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