Women in Aviation - Cristina Reynel

by Cristina Vazquez Reynel on Mar 08 2019
"If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off... no matter what they say." - Barbara McClintock, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983. My name is Cristina Vazquez Reynel, Aerospace engineer with an MSc in Aerospace materials. I have been working for L3 Commercial Aviation in Crawley as a graduate mechanical design engineer since October 2018.

My day-to-day tasks consist of finding creative solutions in the mechanical engineering field, and transforming these ideas into real products. L3 gives me the freedom to develop my own ideas on both the design of completely new structures, and the improvement of existing ones. This includes customer requirements, structural integrity, material properties and manufacturing processes.

When I was in school, I was really interested in Maths and Physics. Since a very young age, I enjoyed trying to solve complicated problems. When I discovered engineering, I realised that I could apply those scientific subjects to face real-world problems and work on improving the world around us.

People often ask me if it is hard to be a woman in the aviation industry. According to WES (Women's Engineering Society), 2017 surveys indicate that just 11% of the engineering workforces are female. Being a minority is never easy, stereotypes are so deeply rooted in society that it is hard not to feel it, even in a positive working environment. Throughout my career, I have met many well-intentioned people making assumptions about the nature of the job I have to be good at. Also, people tend to assume that you need help just for being a woman.

Of course, on occasion, this could make women feel inferior and not capable of being up to the task. Nevertheless, I believe that it is important to use these difficulties as a stimulus to continue forward, achieve your goals and inspire other women to achieve theirs.

I personally find that there is a lack of female mentors or role models in engineering and there isn't enough career guidance. Many girls don't even consider engineering as a career path because they haven't heard of it or even worse, they have been told that this is a career for boys. After years of experience, I would definitely pursue the role of engineering mentor so that I can inspire new generations of female engineers. Through L3, I have the opportunity to visit schools, where I can talk about my career to motivate students.

Undoubtedly, being a woman in the engineering sector and in the Aviation industry can be hard but it is certainly worth the effort. If I had to give a piece of career advice to women, I would say not to be afraid of making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, however, the challenge is to step back, learn from them and evolve.