Girl's engineering dream came true

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2005, 12:00am

Female engineers are just as good as their male counterparts, says Carol Tse Fuk-hing, 33, whose engineering credentials go back to her teenage years - when she started helping her mechanical engineer father tinker with a variety of broken machinery.

'He used to pick up scrapped television sets at the dumping ground and tried to repair them. I started learning the ropes when I was 15,' she says.

'While I was studying electrical engineering in Lakehead University, Canada, I began to do my own repair work.'

Two years ago Carol joined China Light and Power's (CLP) power engineering project department. About 20 of CLP's 1,000 engineers are women.

Born into a family with seven engineers and technicians, Carol seemed destined to become an engineer. 'I have dreamed of being an engineer since I was a little girl. The whole family shares one common topic. We speak the same language.'

As a chartered engineer with CLP Power, Carol works both on site and in the office. 'I plan and prepare for commissioning works and also co-operate with other engineers to monitor tasks such as cable laying and transformer commissioning,' she said.

It is not an easy job. 'Compared to male colleagues, I always feel clumsy when I am trying to climb up and down. And when you are working in a male-dominated environment, you cannot be scared easily by some four-letter words.'

With a project due on April 20, Carol has been working 14-hour days, seven days a week.

'This month has gone a little bit crazy. I am exhausted but also excited because the job is so challenging - different places, different situations,' she says. 'Every time I finish a project, I feel I have accomplished something wonderful. I am quite satisfied.'

As the only woman engineer in her project, Carol actually enjoys a kind of privilege. 'For instance, workers always help me carry heavy objects. I am so well treated that male engineers cannot help teasing me sometimes.

'They insist it must be much better to be girls because workers help girls with all kinds of work and bosses are more gentle.'

Carol believes women have some advantages as engineers. 'While men tend to [keep their problems to themselves], women are more willing to turn to others. Because women engineers share their feelings more freely, we are likely to solve problems before they get really serious.'