Shini Somara: How did you get into robotics engineering?

Dr Ana Cruz Ruiz: To get into robotics engineering, I first studied mechatronics. It was clear then that as a woman in robotic engineering, I was in a minority especially in Latin America. At that time, it was a new degree, and I was the only girl there. Often teachers would ask me if I was lost or in the wrong place. I didn’t say much at the time, but I think this affected my self-confidence and my ability to answer questions or put my ideas forward. There were more girls on my master’s degree in robotics, which I studied in Europe. It was nice to see more women on this course.

These days, there are more girls interested in engineering. I think the problem women face now is that we experience many barriers in progressing through our careers. There is certainly some work to be done in retaining women in STEM fields and promoting them to senior positions.

Personally, what has kept me here in robotics...