Live Yourself - A Minority's Guide to the Workplace
Monica M. | Director of Quality Engineering for Server and Infrastructure Systems | Taiwan
Originally Published: May 12, 2022
Originally from Texas, Hispanic American Monica M. is currently working in Dell Technologies' Taipei office as the Director of Quality Engineering for Server and Infrastructure Systems.
Q: Did you experience any challenges or unequal treatment as a student?
A: I was born and raised in Texas, USA. At a very young age, I showed an interest in math, natural science, and other subjects. However, the math and science courses offered at that time were geared toward boys, so my mother had to argue to get the school to allow me to take math and science courses. When I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997, I was one of only three women in the entire electrical engineering department out of 500 graduates. One memory that sticks in my mind is that when I was in a class group experiment, I encountered two general situations. First, female students were not so recognized for their mathematical and scientific expertise, so they were not the first choice of students to find group members; and second, when a male student came forward to invite you to team up, he probably wanted to have a date with you. After all, girls were rare in that environment, and I don't deny that it was probably an advantage. I did meet my future husband at university as a result and have been with him ever since.
Women are stereotyped as being less mathematically capable than men and are not encouraged to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related subjects, resulting in the under-representation of women in school and the workplace. Growing up in such an environment, you need to be more proactive and not afraid to ask questions and seek solutions to get more opportunities.
Q: Have you encountered any gender-related challenges in your workplace and how did you resolve them?
A: When I just joined Dell, there were only a handful of female engineers. I worked hard and actively sought opportunities to excel. But I still felt that my potential was not being fully realized or that my manager did not see my capabilities. After thinking about it, I decided to express my willingness to take on more responsibility to my manager. At first, it may not be very adaptable, but if you keep trying, you will gradually get used to being able to do it. In the process of chasing your dreams, sometimes you feel alone, perhaps because you don't communicate with others either, so I made sure I saw a problem and went out and advocated for change, rather than waiting for others to come to me.
Q: Looking back on your 23-year career at Dell, what do you think is the reason for your successful transition between positions? Did being a woman make it easier for you to make the switch?
A: First, I don't think gender is the biggest factor. I think my strengths are my interpersonal skills, my leadership skills, my ability to work well in a team, and my ability to resolve conflict.
Secondly, gender is not good or bad. It is just different. We should strive to explore individual strengths and tolerate differences to achieve a better self.
Finally, Dell Technologies has a very inclusive culture, encouraging employees to choose different positions according to their career interests. Dell also makes a lot of efforts to foster inclusiveness and eliminate unconscious bias. For example, we have 13 Employee Resource Groups, where employees are encouraged to join specific groups to interact with each other based on their background or interests. I am the president of one of these groups, Women in Action Taiwan, which helps female employees develop their careers and move from junior to managerial positions by organizing social events, seminars, or workshops with companies in the industry.
Q: Can you tell us the biggest difference between working in R&D and working in technical services?
A: The difference is huge! When I first started working in R&D, it was about 90% male and I felt like my chances of advancing to a senior position were very slim. However, when I moved to Technical Services, it was the opposite. My immediate supervisor and her supervisor were all women, which was very encouraging, and I realized I had the opportunity to strive for better. Of course, a few years ago, I went back to R&D from Technical Services, and I found that things had improved a lot, with more and more great women leaders emerging.
This is also in line with Dell's 2030 vision. By 2030, 50 percent of our global workforce and 40 percent of our global executives will be women. Women's relatively good interpersonal, communication and presentation skills are very helpful in today's world, no matter what type of business they are in.
Q: Can you give some advice to future talents?
A: First, I would encourage more girls to choose STEM studies, which help develop one's logical thinking, rational thinking, and creative problem-solving skills. Your background in science and technology will give you more advantages. Of course, no matter how you choose, the most important thing is to follow your heart, and you don't have to follow the world's standards to discipline yourself. You can define your own life.
In addition, technology is changing rapidly, and the changes in the industry not only mean that practitioners must keep up with the times, but also mean that the industry has a higher demand for different talents. If young people can understand the issues and find their passion, it can be found that it is a great time for young people today.
Learn more about a career with Dell here.
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