Distinguished New Engineer Award Winner Carina Hahn on Role Modeling Career Success for Girls in STEM

We’re highlighting the wonderful contributions of recent award winners recognized by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). In this series, these women share how Intel supports their careers, offering them flexibility alongside opportunities to create amazing tech.

 

Shift group leader Carina Hahn was awarded the Distinguished New Engineer award by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). This award honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding technical performance, as well as leadership in professional organizations and the community, in the first ten years of their career. Read more about how Carina got her start in tech and how she mentors girls in STEM and encourages women to pursue technical careers.

 

Q. Could you tell us about what you do and what a typical day looks like?
I am a shift manager in the metals area at the D1 factory in Hillsboro, Oregon where I manage a team maintaining a fleet of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. I start my mornings checking in with my team to make sure everyone has what they need to complete their work for the day. I also keep track of and report out the status of high priority equipment. It can be hard to predict each day, because there are often unexpected things happening with our equipment. I also work on projects to help strengthen and improve our area’s efficiency.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to work in technology? How did you decide to go into semiconductor manufacturing?
I did not always know that I wanted to work in technology. I loved math, science, and art growing up, but I almost majored in dance instead of engineering. I ended up sticking with engineering and minoring in dance. I chose materials science and engineering because I loved how detailed I could get with studying how the crystal structure of a material affected its properties. My first year in school I worked with a professor in his lab where we researched semiconductor materials used in photovoltaics—I stuck with semiconductors from there.

Q. Many women in the tech industry feel that their gender has affected the way they are perceived or treated. Have you felt this and if so, how did you handle it?
I have definitely felt this. It usually comes up in comments made by others that make me uncomfortable and stick with me. When I hear these things, it gives me even more drive to prove that I am a capable engineer. When I first started engineering in school, I was very quiet and would not speak up, but through working at Intel and everything I am learning from the Society of Women Engineers, I have been able to find my voice and speak up when I receive unpleasant comments related to my gender. It is important to speak up because we all have unconscious biases and people may not realize that what they are saying could be pushing women away from pursuing a career in engineering.

Q. What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
I like being an example to future generations of women and showing them that they can also successfully pursue a career in the tech industry. Through the Society of Women Engineers, I can connect with young girls at engineering outreach events, and also keep in touch with college students. I love that I have so many opportunities to be a role model for young girls who may be interested in a tech career, because it is going to take much more work before we see women adequately represented in many areas of the tech industry.

Q. Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
I notice it every day. My own team of 21 only has one woman on the team, and there are only two women managers (including myself) in our entire area. Many factors lead to the lack of women in engineering. Girls can start losing interest in STEM careers at a young age, and then the tech industry continues to lose women all the way through college and their careers. Some of the reasons include a lack of role models in the field and unconscious bias in the tech industry. I do like that Intel has many resources to support women, and they actively recruit more women at the Society of Women Engineers conferences. But there are still many areas in the tech industry where women are underrepresented.

Q. Many women in the tech industry consider themselves introverts. Are you an introvert and if so, what is the most difficult thing about being an introvert in the tech industry? How did you overcome it?
I am not completely an introvert, but I would say I am more introverted than extroverted. So much of my day involves communicating and working with other people, which takes a lot of energy for introverts. To overcome it, I have really had to push myself to get used to speaking up and communicating confidently. Then on my weekends I like to spend some time alone to re-fuel.

Q. What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
I would tell her that it is okay if she does not have role models in her field, because we still need her to be the first and create a path for future generations of women to succeed. Also that her perspective will be very important in her field, because the tech industry needs diverse ways of thinking to be successful. I wish I would have known more about imposter syndrome and how prevalent it is. I faced imposter syndrome in school being one of the few women in my classes. It was easy to feel like I did not belong. If had been more aware that other women were experiencing the same thing, I may have had more confidence to keep myself going.

 

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