The ‘Womengineer’ leading STEM at WSyd


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Heimy Molina refers to herself as a ‘Womengineer’

If you had told Heimy Molina when she was in high school, that a high-vis vest and a hard-hat would become staple items in her wardrobe, she probably wouldn’t have believed you. As someone born in the Philippines, she never considered for there to be an opportunity to have a career in STEM. Fast-forward to today however, as a final year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student at Western Sydney University,  Heimy is breaking down stereotypes and is a face of determination and resilience. She refers to herself as a ‘Womengineer’.

As an international student, Heimy watched her high school classmates put together their career aspirations as she sat undecided as to what her next journey would look like. Fuelled by the unknown, Heimy stumbled upon the world of engineering where she felt everything fall into place. The adrenaline of learning something new every day and knowing that she will never know everything was enough for Heimy to fall in love with the profession.

“I joke around that I like building things, but I also like to order people to build it! I think it stems mostly from my passion for management. When I chose to study engineering, I was thinking to myself, why didn’t I look into this all this time!”

Although Heimy eventually found her passion, it has not been easy to find her feet in the industry. Largely dominated by men, there has been a slow shift that is seeing more and more women undertake roles in STEM, but it hasn’t come without its challenges. Heimy’s struggles started back at home where those closest to her were hesitant about her career move because of ingrained stereotypes.

“Being from the Philippines, it is a very conservative country where most engineers are men. Even when I told my family that I was looking into studying engineering they questioned it, simply because I am a girl,” she says.

“I found that I had put myself into this box of questioning what I should be doing instead of asking myself what I wanted to do. I found myself juggling my choices because I put myself in this box. Once I figured out what I wanted to do, breaking past all the stereotypes and not listening to anyone but myself, that’s when I found what I wanted.”

As Heimy found comfort in living in Australia and studying at Western Sydney University, she has entrusted the help of mentors to guide her in achieving her goals. She recognises that having the support of people around her who understand her mindset and want to see her thrive has pushed her success.

“At first, I kept putting myself in a bubble and was hesitant. But as I slowly opened my horizons, I found myself mentors, from professors to professionals in the industry,”Heimy says.

“Hearing their side of things has been excellent. It has helped removed my fears and put in place my achievements.”

According to Engineers Australia’s Women In Engineering June 2022 report, the aggregate proportion of qualified female professional engineers is 13%. Heimy however, is optimistic for this number to increase as she inspires women around her to take the next step into the STEM field.

“I like to encourage girls to be a part of STEM. Because it’s not about whether you are female, it’s instead about what you can do,” she says.

“I want to be an inspiration to others. Back home I didn’t have any female role models going into the engineering field. I just want to become that person who will reach out to women, not only just in engineering, but also for day-to-day advice.”

Alongside her aspirations to become a project manager, Heimy would like to become active in school programs to inspire the next generation of women to become involved in engineering. She wants to help break boundaries and open minds, being the person she wishes she had as a guide at school.

Shining a light on what some are afraid to admit, Heimy openly discusses her challenges that sometimes stand in the way of her success. As someone with high standards, she has recognised her times of burnout and inability to set healthy limits, however, knows that recognising these traits is only going to make her more successful and have a better understanding of the need for resilience.

“The root of my resilience has been looking at my older self. I used to compare myself to other people which really isn’t healthy, so instead I look at my past self and recognise my achievements, no matter how small, and that gives me great inspiration to keep going,” she says.

“I have my hindrances and obstacles, and that is perfectly normal as that means I am human. But I make sure to keep looking forward to being the best future self that I can be whilst recognising how far I have come, because you have to always remember to celebrate your wins.”

Heimy’s dedication paired with a cheerful and optimistic attitude makes her the perfect inspiration for women wanting to enter the engineering world but are afraid of the barriers they may face. Prepared to assist many with open arms, Heimy is just one of the faces who are shifting Australia’s industries in becoming more inclusive and dynamic.

Her approach to resilience can’t help but bring upon a moment of self-reflection, as she encourages personal values and self-worth to be embraced above all else. It is about recognising self-doubts and the moments where you may trip and fall, but ultimately making sure that the passion and fire within you remains burning throughout the journey.

“Embrace yourself and don’t feel pressured by those around you. Believe in yourself and recognise that you may need help or hurdles may appear along the way, but you will find your way around them. As long as the fire remains burning inside of you, nothing else will matter.”