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Meet Egypt's First Female Marine Engineer

Ingy Abdelkarim defied the odds and broke into a largely male-dominated field.

Imagine being told that "sailing the sea is only for men" although your passion lies in marine life. This what 24-year-old Ingy Abdelkarim had to deal with when embarking on her career, a journey which eventually lead her to become the first female marine engineer to graduate from the Arab Academy of Science and Technology (AAST) in Egypt, according to Egyptian Streets. 

“The idea of a girl in this field freaked many people out and they started doubting my abilities,” Abdelkarim tells Egyptian Streets, as she recalls how she worked her way into what has been a male dominated industry for quite some time.

The young engineer narrated how the field she chose to delve in proved to be problematic from the very start with even her father. A captain himself and aware of the challenges she would face, he had flat out refused for her to go through with it and chose for her to go to business school instead.

"We’re three girls and one little boy. My dad always used prefer the easy and non-dangerous options for us, and he didn’t want me to work in the sea because he knew that the conditions of working were tiring and hard," she told the news site Etfarag. Abdelkarim applied to the Arab Academy of Science and Technology anyway, without her father’s knowledge. 

Abdelkarim is now specialised running and maintaining working life on a ship - she couldn’t have received her bachelor’s degree without having spent a 6-month trip in the sea.

She was highly motivated by some of the department’s professors who helped her with the application and encouraged her decision but she admits that once in, some students and teachers didn’t take her seriously nor even acknowledge her presence in classes.

The determined engineer also explained that it was particularly hard to be in class with only men around her and that she had to exercise caution in not losing the respect of her colleagues for them to take her seriously.

“I will continue my Masters and I will enter this field and develop it in the country,” Abdelkarim told Egyptian Streets. 

And her father, who once vehemently opposed her decision? He now lets others know that his daughter is the first female marine engineer in Egypt with a lot of pride.

Main image courtesy of Egyptian Streets.