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  • Susan Kenyon

International Women in Engineering Day

Updated: Jul 4

By Susan Kenyon in

International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is celebrated annually on June 23rd. It aims to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in engineering and to inspire more women to consider engineering as a career.  It started in 2014 and has since become an international event recognized by UNESCO.  INWED also highlights the importance of gender diversity in the engineering field, showcasing the contributions of women engineers globally and encouraging organizations to create inclusive environments where women can thrive.

Challenges Faced by Women in Engineering

  • Gender Bias: Women in engineering often face implicit and explicit biases, which can affect hiring, promotion, and recognition.

  • Work-Life Balance: Engineering careers can be demanding, and balancing work and family life can be challenging.

  • Representation: Women are underrepresented in many engineering disciplines, which can lead to a lack of role models and mentors.

Source: U.S Census Bureau. Detailed occupation for the civilian employed population 16 years and over (2024). Tables B24115 and B24116.

The numbers show that women are still underrepresented in engineering fields. For instance, in 2022 in the US, only 32% of environmental engineers are women, while just 9% are in electrical engineering. Women in Engineering Day was developed to change these statistics.

Women in Engineering Day is designed to inspire more young women to consider STEM fields, including engineering. Highlighting the contributions of early female engineers is one effective approach. There have been many trailblazing women in engineering throughout history. Here are some examples:

Edith Clarke 

Edith Clarke invented the graphical calculator. She was also the first woman to graduate from MIT’s College of Electrical Engineering in 1918. She also contributed to the design of the Hoover Dam. She became the first female professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas.

Lois Cooper 

Lois Cooper, the first African American woman engineer at the California Department of Transportation. She was the second woman to pass California’s Professional Engineer exam. She was crucial in designing parts of the freeway system and the original carpool lane.

Paige Kassalen 

A more recent example is Paige Kassalen from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has an electrical engineering degree from Virginia Tech. In 2016, she made headlines by joining the ground crew for the Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered airplane. She was just  23 years old. She's been recognized on Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 list for her achievements.

How can parents, guardians, and teachers help encourage girls to explore STEM careers?  

Paige Kassalen’s comments might help: 

“I remember when I was 7 years old, my mom asked me to help her assemble furniture for her new office.  I opened the box, spilled out the parts, and threw away the directions-I loved solving problems on my own.  When I was able to arrive at a solution I would feel so powerful.”

Inspiring girls to pursue careers in engineering involves a multifaceted approach that addresses stereotypes, provides role models, and offers hands-on experiences.

Here are some strategies to inspire and encourage girls to consider engineering:

1. Introduce Role Models

  • Guest Speakers: Invite female engineers to speak at schools and community events to share their stories and career paths.

  • Mentorship Programs: Pair young girls with female engineering mentors who can provide guidance and support.

  • Read books on inspiring women and fascinating subjects!  An excellent site for books is A Mighty Girl:

2. Hands-On Activities

  • STEM Workshops: Organize engineering workshops where girls can participate in building projects, coding, robotics, and other hands-on activities.

  • Competitions: Encourage participation in engineering competitions and science fairs to foster creativity and problem-solving skills.

3. Educational Resources

  • STEM Curriculum: Integrate a strong STEM curriculum in schools, focusing on practical applications of engineering concepts.

  • Online Courses and Tutorials: Provide access to online courses, tutorials, and resources that are specifically designed for young learners.

4. Encourage Early Interest

  • Toys and Games: Promote toys and games that develop engineering skills, such as building sets, puzzles, and coding games.

  • Field Trips: Arrange visits to science museums, engineering firms, and tech companies to expose girls to real-world engineering environments.

5. Address Gender Stereotypes

  • Positive Messaging: Use media and communication channels to promote positive images of women in engineering and counteract stereotypes.

  • Inclusive Language: Ensure that educational materials and discussions are gender-neutral and inclusive.

Let's keep celebrating and supporting women in engineering to pave the way for more future innovators!

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