Kate Durkacz


Position at Edinburgh Napier Mathematics Lecturer and Academic Lead for Student Experience

What has been your career path to date?

I studied mathematics at university, and obtained a BSc in Applied Mathematics and an MSc in Numerical Analysis.  My first job was as a mathematician at GEC Avionics Ltd, working in aircraft navigation systems.  I then got a post as a research assistant at Sheffield University, working on mathematical control problems, and was able to write this work up for a PhD.  Since then, I have had two more fixed term research contracts, one analyzing seismic data and the other in the area of transport modelling.  I have been a lecturer in mathematics at an English university, teaching undergraduate mathematics degree students, and also service teaching engineering and science students.  For the past 8 years I have been working as a mathematics lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, teaching mathematics to engineering students.

What is your experience as a woman working in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment?

Throughout my working life I have been working in a predominantly male environment.  Personally, I have never experienced any discrimination as a result of being a women, and I do not feel that I have been treated any differently on this account.  It is, of course, important to have a sense of humour and to recognise when you are being teased.  Luckily, I grew up with two brothers!  My colleagues are all very friendly and supportive and I enjoy working with them.

What advice would you give to any female considering working or teaching in the area of Engineering?

My advice would be that if this is what you want to do then go for it!  I would hope that nobody would ever allow their choice of career to be influenced by any perceptions of what is appropriate for their gender.  Of course, in engineering as in any other area, there will be times when you will have to work hard, and there will be projects which you are not as enthusiastic about, but you will end up having an interesting and rewarding career.  I have always been employed as a mathematician, and I love both teaching and applying mathematics, and I cannot imagine working in another subject area.  I still hope that in my lifetime the gender balance in engineering will become more equal!