If you like solving puzzles, do my job
Women in STEM Dr Hilda Mulvihill is a Senior Research and Development Manager, focusing on the joint replacement division. It looks after implant products, including hips and knees.
How does engineering improve people's lives?
"I am a Senior Research and Development Manager at Stryker, focusing on the joint replacement division. It looks after implant products, including hips and knees.
"My job involves talking to customers, who are mainly surgeons and theatre nurses. They tell us what they want, and we turn it into a product. It is a problem-solving job. If you like solving puzzles, this is the job for you. It’s also collaborative; working with different people with different expertise, travelling all over the world.
"My choice of career was inﬂuenced by my parents. My dad was a mechanical engineer and, as the eldest of three, I got roped into helping with jobs around the house. I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal to spend Saturdays in the shed drilling holes into things. My mom was a great advocate for education and very supportive of my choice to study science, especially continuing onto a PhD.
"I began by studying chemistry at UCC and spent a summer at Textron Automotive Research Centre in New Hampshire. My manager was a polymer chemist, a lady who led the team developing different car parts. Automotive is a very technical, male-dominated area and I had a great deal of respect for her. Other big inﬂuences on my career have been my PhD supervisor, Professor Robert Hill, and my ﬁrst leader at Stryker, John Scanlan, both of whom were very supportive.
"I love science, understanding nature and how things work. I get to do what I love every day, while being paid. It is very fulﬁlling, helping to improve the quality of people’s lives. At the moment, I’m working on products relating to bone tumours. There’s a high risk of infection after surgery for those patients, so it’s exciting to know that we can help.
"When I was at school and college, I never came across a teacher or lecturer who told me science and engineering isn’t for girls. The important thing was your ability. It wasn’t until I started working that I realised we’re in a minority. In general, anywhere I’ve worked, they’re looking for the best people for the job, so it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.
"In life, there’s a lot more responsibility for women if you want both a career and a family. In science and engineering jobs – particularly in the research area – ﬂexibility is built into current work practices. You can strike a balance with both, and do a job that improves people’s lives."