IWD 2024: Interview with Jinan Al-Asadi

By on 6 March, 2024
Jinan Al-Asadi

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day 2024 this week by showcasing outstanding women who are helping to shape Australia’s geospatial sector.

In this interview we speak with Jinan Al-Asadi, surveying engineering student at the University of NSW, to find out what she loves about the field.

Spatial Source: How did you get into this field, and what attracted you to it?

Jinan Al-Asadi: In my senior years of high school, I chose engineering studies as one of my electives, thinking it was related to architecture (which is what I initially intended on studying after graduating). When the term commenced, I realised the subject was very different and unique compared to anything I’d learnt about in the past. I was able to utilise the skills I was gaining in mathematics and physics within the course and very much enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of the subject.

I then attended a few UNSW engineering field days that were advertised and was set on studying engineering. Initially, I wanted to be a civil engineer, but after completing a surveying subject in my first year of university, I decided to apply to transfer to UNSW to study Surveying Engineering.

SS: Are there any personal qualities or attributes that are helpful to have in this field?

JA: I believe being pedantic in nature and having exceptional attention to detail are necessary in the field of surveying. Additionally, being good at mathematics is very important. Without such qualities, a lot of mistakes can be made and the individual may not drawn to the field.

SS: What makes you most proud about your role and achievements?

JA: I’m most proud of my decision to finish my studies at the age of 26 years old. I worked full time for three-plus years as an assistant/project engineer and delayed completing my degree. I was also feeling lost in my early 20s and struggled in my personal life. But with this experience, I was able to really know what I want to do with my life, and that is to be a surveyor.

Jinan Al-Asadi says that she’s always learning something new as a surveyor and student.

SS: As a woman, have you had any struggles during your career? Conversely, have you had support?

JA: In the field of construction, I had some struggles as I am a small build and was relatively young (21 years old) when I started. However, I think engineers as a whole struggle in gaining respect from those outside of the field of engineering due to the construction culture.

I’m grateful for experiences, both negative and positive, because they helped me gain communication skills with all sorts of people, as well as gain resilience. I had support from management and other colleagues if there were any communication issues on- or off-site.

SS: We need more women in the geospatial sector. Do you have any ideas?

JA: I believe both men and women should first be educated on what geospatial and surveying engineering are. Most people who I know who aren’t engineers, ask “What is surveying?” when I tell them that’s what I’m studying. I believe high school students should be exposed to all work fields so they can decide what they want to study after school. As a result, you would likely have more males and females applying to study geospatial/surveying engineering.

There are female dominant fields as well as male dominant fields. Naturally, men and women may be inclined to particular fields and that’s okay! However, both should be given the opportunity and support to study/work in any field that they desire, including engineering.

Your environment at home also has a major impact on what you decide to do as an adult, so educating parents to be supportive and not forceful on their children is important. If your daughter/sister/mate wants to be an engineer, just be supportive! Honestly, it’s not a big deal if a woman works in a male dominated field, just as long as they have support. It’s like a man working in a female dominated field (i.e. nursing). What’s the big deal?

SS: What would you say to young women who are considering a career in geospatial?

JA: If you think you’ll enjoy studying and/or working in the field, then go for it! You’ll always be learning something new and have many different opportunities throughout your career. If you love being challenged and working physically outdoors, it’s a field that’ll work for you. You also do office work of course, so you really get the best of both worlds in my opinion. Don’t let anyone hold you back from doing what you want to do in life.

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