Women in Science Profiles
Dr. Mojca Noc Razinger
"Women and mechanical engineering – how do they match up?" people wonder when I answer the question about my occupation. Someone once even said that being a mechanical engineer means being covered with grease and oil up to the elbows. From my experience I can say that this, of course, is not true. If I had to make a decision about my professional career again, I would not change anything.
Already as a little girl I often helped my father with household repairs and as I was growing up my interest in engineering was growing stronger and stronger. The programme at my secondary school was focused on natural sciences and mathematics and afterwards I found it very hard to decide for a single study programme – if that had been possible, I would have enroled for courses at three faculties at the same time: the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Computer and Information Science. As this could not be carried out in practice, I chose mechanical engineering and in the third year I decided to specialise in mechatronics. Later on I primarily focused on developing programs for numerically controlled machines and on improving computer-controlled processes on-line during the cutting process on a machine.
Heavy labour and dirty hands are in modern mechanical engineering more or less part of the past as all of this has been transferred to the machines or it can be avoided with the help of different devices. What is more, a special kind of relationship between people and machines has started to develop. This is mainly due to the fact that machines are very close to becoming equal partners and they are taking over some of the tasks which are very important to us. Through this we ourselves and our self-image are changing as well.
My research activities never required work which was considered hard and inappropriate for women. The machine was always operated by an operator. I, on the other hand, was responsible for the measurements, the measuring instruments and the computer. The work crew was really something special and I have very fond memories of those days.
From process optimisation, with which I dealt in predominantly male working environment, I transferred to statistics. I must say I needed quite some time to adjust to this change, but now I have realised that mixed working environments are more productive and active as there are more different interactions between the colleagues and the problems are solved more quickly.
This variety of different activities and environments which is characteristic of my work poses the question how I can take good care of my family and give my best also at home. I think that until now I have been doing it quite well. I really appreciate the fact that the members of my family were not surprised by my choice of occupation and that they have always supported me in my research work and in my life experience – particularly when I needed them most.