Women in STEM: Tianyue Chu

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11), we talk to our PhD student who reflects on the challenges to be faced in order to build an equal society

12 February 2024

We interview our PhD Student Tianyue Chu on the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. She tells us about her female role models, why she decided to pursue a research career, and what steps she believes are important to help increase the number of women in STEM.

She is an example of a scientific vocation. Currently, she is working on security and privacy in Federated Learning under the supervision of Dr. Nikolaos Laoutaris for the Data Transparency Group. In this interview, she opens up to us and tells us about herself and serves as an inspiration for those who doubt whether studying engineering is for them.

  1. What did you want to do when you were younger?

Back in the day, I was all about being the president of the United Nations. But as I got older, I figured out how awesome science is, and I started dreaming about being a scientist. There’s just something super cool about diving into the mysteries of the world, making rad discoveries, and adding my bit to how we live.

  1. Why did you decide to opt for a STEM career?

Ever since I was young, math was my jam — I just loved the beauty of it. Then I got into physics, and it got me wondering how the world ticks. And you know what? Enter computer science. Turns out, I can throw my math skills into the mix, solve actual problems, and be part of the tech coolness. Knowing I can make discoveries that actually help society out? That’s the kind of buzz that keeps my curiosity alive and kicking. It’s like a chill combo of geeking out and doing something that really matters.

  1. Why study a research career?

I chose to pursue a research career because I can’t get enough of poking around in the unknown. You know, it’s like being on a never-ending adventure. Asking questions that nobody’s tackled before, venturing into uncharted territories, and adding puzzle pieces to what we all know—it’s a total rush. The buzz of discovery and the chance to actually shake things up in a field keep me hooked. It’s just the right path for someone who’s all about being in the innovation game and tossing in some useful insights for the world.

  1. What do you like most about your job?

What I love most about my research is the freedom to chase down real-world problems, following my curiosity wherever it takes me. I enjoy diving deep into the topics at hand, uncovering the details and figuring out what I can do.

The thought that my work can actually make a difference in society ignites a real fire within me. Whether it’s pushing the boundaries in tech or tackling real-world challenges, knowing that I’m contributing to positive change is a serious motivator. It’s like having the best of both worlds – doing what I love and making an impact. That’s what keeps me going on this wild journey.

  1. How have you achieved your career accomplishments?

I’ve achieved my career accomplishments through a combination of hard work and effective collaboration. I’m a firm believer in rolling up my sleeves and putting in the hard yards. Hard work, for me, is like the engine that keeps things moving – pushing boundaries, tackling challenges, and always gunning for excellence.

But here’s the twist— it’s not a one-person show. Teaming up with this incredible bunch has been the real game-changer. We bring our A-game, juggle different skills, and tackle those complex projects head-on.  Together, this blend of personal dedication and teamwork paved the way for all these career highs. Dedication meets teamwork—a winning formula, in my book.

  1. Talk about your female role models.

One of my female role models is Margaret Hamilton. She is a total legend in software engineering. She led the team that made sure the software for NASA’s Apollo missions, especially Apollo 11’s moon landing, was spot-on. Her innovative approaches, like asynchronous software and error detection, showcased her foresight and technical prowess.

But here’s the cool part: not only did she crush it in a male-dominated field, but she also co-founded her own software company. A true trailblazer! Margaret Hamilton isn’t just a tech whiz; she’s an inspiration for women in STEM, proving that resilience and brilliance can break through any barrier. Her legacy is like a rocket in the sky—bold, trailblazing, and still lighting the way for all of us.

  1. How do you see the situation for women in your field?

In the conferences, summer schools, and workshops I’ve been to, the representation of women used to be on the low side. But I’ve seen a positive shift lately, more women are jumping in, and it feels like we’re making strides toward a more balanced scene in our field. And more opportunities are opening up for women now. Plus, you can see these support networks and initiatives actively pushing for diversity and inclusion. It’s like we’re taking some serious steps to create a better, more supportive space for women in our field.

However, we still have our challenges. For example, how to balance work and personal life and the gender bias, and also the potential barrier to career development. But we can see that these ongoing efforts show a commitment to adressing gender disparities and building a more inclusive environment. So we have to support these initiatives and actively participate in them. This is how we continue to push the needle on diversity and equality in STEM.

  1. What would you say to the technologist of the future?

To the technologist of the future, I’d say: “Embrace curiosity as your compass and innovation as your guide. Be a pioneer, dive into the unknown, and see challenges as opportunities. Collaborate across disciplines – the best ideas often come from unexpected places. Always think about the impact of your creations, make tech a force for good. Your perspective and creativity are powerful, so dream big, work hard, and never underestimate the impact of your contributions.”

Source(s): IMDEA Networks Institute
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