Engineering is no longer just a man’s world. In our enlightened and innovative society, there are now a lot more young women entering undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering and applied science, as well as becoming professional engineers.
However, the numbers are still dismal. An alarming statistic states that “only 5.5% of engineering professionals are female and only 27% of engineering and science technicians are female” . Another is “fewer than one in ten (9.8%) of STEM managers are female” .
So does society think that these statistics are a problem? Should we care about these low rates of women entering engineering careers? Personally, I believe we should be very concerned; engineering is missing out on a very talented and intelligent portion of the population.
We need more women to blaze trails in engineering. Some women may think that engineering is not for them, because they do not think they have the typical qualities of an engineer, which in our past have been strongly associated with “male” qualities. However, I believe women have natural skills and qualities that make them capable of being excellent engineers. Here is an outline of some of these skills and qualities:
Teamwork and problem solving – Many engineering organizations make their employees collaborate with each other to solve problems. Employees have to work in a team environment, which is an excellent place for women to excel, because they tend to be good at working with others. They listen to ideas, support others and give their own opinions in a respectful way. This form of problem solving is very crucial in the work place since companies rely on a variety of creative solutions. Engineering is all about coming up with optimal solutions, using peoples’ creativity and collaboration; thus women would be great at working with others and developing excellent solutions.
Strategic planning – We know many women who are great strategic planners! For example, Hilary Clinton is a strong, independent, and intelligent woman. She served as the secretary of state in Obama’s first term. In this position, she had to plan, strategize and use her critical thinking skills. There are many famous female engineers and scientists, such as, Marie Curie, Lillian Gilbreth, and Heddy Lamarr. Most notably, Aprille Ericsson, an Aerospace Engineer and history maker! 
To see a list of creative, strategic women in engineering visit:
Strong communicators – The main complaint that employers tend to bring up is that engineers tend to have a lack of communication skills. Employers want individuals that can speak clearly and articulately, as well as write and listen to others. There are many women that are great at selling a product or explaining a concept to a customer. Many women have natural talent when it comes to communicating ideas in a professional and effective manner, which they can use to their benefit in as engineers.
Excellent leaders – Due to their high emotional intelligence (EQ), women make great leaders. Having a high EQ is very important because this makes a leader that can inspire and motivate their workers to improve and succeed. This is needed in many professions, but is very useful in engineering, especially in the field of project planning and project management.
Creativity – This is truly the pathway to becoming a successful engineering. Women and men alike are both creative and innovative. It is important to have more women contribute to engineering initiatives, since the field is looking for talented, creative individuals to come up with smart solutions for very complex problems. Women are equally capable of using their creativity and knowledge to find solutions to these difficult engineering problems.
As a woman in engineering, I know that women are tenacious, dedicated and passionate. These are the skills that engineers needs most, as these are traits of many great leaders, innovators and pioneers.
We need more women to blaze trails for other women in the field of engineering. I strongly believe that women are capable of exceeding this great challenge. I am excited to be a woman in engineering at this time of improvement and advancement.
For more information on women in engineering, visit:
- Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation at http://www.cemf.ca/indexEnglish.html
- IEEE at http://www.ieee.org/membership_services/membership/women/index.html
- Engineers Canada at http://www.engineerscanada.ca/women-in-engineering
By Savanah Wille