Tomorrow is International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED20). It’s a time for reflection on how far we have come and how far we still have to go.
When I commenced my engineering studies I was one of 12 females in a class of 120 in total – a proportion that was unprecedented. I felt that we were pioneers, in some way set apart from our colleagues studying medicine, the sciences, commerce and the arts where the proportion of females was much higher. I was proud to be part of this special, maybe even elite group, and I believed that we were paving the way for other women to follow in our footsteps.
My career in engineering has given me much joy. Opportunities to travel, see the world, meet and learn from people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. Recognition of my contribution and my role, however small, to creating significant success stories. A never-ending path of learning and improving, hypothesising and testing, challenges accepted and problems solved.
Sadly, the proportion of females entering engineering departments in years after mine fell again, and only now, decades later have the numbers climbed and in some disciplines exceeded those of my cohort. In-career attrition is also high, so the number of women in senior positions in engineering organisations is lower again. There is no single good reason for this. It’s a complex, multi-faceted issue – well studied and analysed – but not yet solved.
Nonetheless on International Women in Engineering Day 2020 I think there is plenty to celebrate. Highlights for me include:
- Our growing team of talented women at UltraSoC – I am proud to work alongside them
- The UKESF “Girls into Electronics” initiative and the Dialog award for Female Undergraduates https://www.ukesf.org/news/female-students-gaining-first-class-experience/
- The powerful force which is the GSA’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, where I am honoured to serve alongside some truly awesome women https://www.gsaglobal.org/womens-leadership/
- The standout achievements and well-deserved recognition of some inspiring females in our industry – Lisa Su at AMD, Mary Barra at GM, Safra Catz at Oracle, Kathy Warden at Northrup Grumman to name a few.
These data points for me are a signal that things are changing. There are some highly visible role models now for women in engineering. There are many bright minds working to support and encourage women in engineering and STEM careers. I look forward to watching more and more women enter engineering careers in the future, using their passion for problem solving, and building a better world for themselves and others.