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Engineering may be one of the most male-dominated professions within construction. However, throughout history, there have been plenty of women who have defined the norms and made significant contributions to the world of engineering. Let's take a look at some facts, figures and history behind women in engineering

Looking back in history, women can first be seen in the engineering field during the First World War, where they were encouraged to take the roles of men to help release them into the army. These female world war pioneers ended up stepping into these roles and contributing to vital infrastructure projects, munitions factories and technological advancement. As the war ended, they were pressured to vacate their roles(1).

This is where committees such as the National Council of Women come into play. In 1919 they founded the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). They came to be the spokesperson for women who had worked these engineering roles during the war and helped to resist the pressure from the country to give these jobs back to men. To this day they still advocate for women in the industry and support their careers(1).

Flashforward to the present day, despite the work of groups such as ‘WES’ women still face challenges in pursuing engineering careers. However, there are some positive signs of change. 

Over the years more women can be seen entering the engineering field and back in 2020, the percentage of women graduating with engineering degrees hit an all-time high(2).

According to the Women’s Engineering Society, women make up 16.5% of all engineers, compared to 10.5% reported in 2010. The actual number of women working in engineering roles also increased from 562,000 in 2010 to 936,000 in 2021(1).

There has also been an increase in the amount of women engineers who have become influential figures helping to inspire future generations to pursue engineering. From inventors and innovators to CEOs and industry leaders, their accomplishments are helping to reshape perceptions and break down stereotypes. 

Some of these female engineering role models include Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood actress who also possessed an engineering mind. Her invention of frequency hopping helped to lay the foundation for modern technology such as WiFi and Bluetooth(3)

Another notable figure is Emily Warren Roebling. Despite facing resistance, Roebling played a pivotal role in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, taking over the project when her husband, the chief engineer, fell ill(4).

So, why is it important to have women in the engineering workforce? Gender diversity in engineering brings immense benefits to the industry and society as a whole. Including women in engineering teams helps to bring fresh ideas and approaches to address complex challenges. 

There is also economic growth which a diverse workforce can help to improve. Studies have consistently shown that diverse workforces lead to increased productivity, profitability and competitiveness(5).

Women have made significant strides in the engineering field, from historical milestones to present-day achievements. However, there is still work to be done to achieve true gender equality in engineering. 

By acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of women in engineering, we can inspire future generations, cultivate diverse talent, and create a more inclusive and innovative industry. Let's continue championing the empowerment of women in engineering, ensuring their voices are heard and their talents are fully utilized. 

Together, we can build a future where engineering knows no gender boundaries.


*1 - Women’s Engineering Society


*2 - HESA Uk


*3 - Wikipedia, Hedy Lamarr 


*4 - Wikipedia, Emily Warren Roebling


*5 - Maddyness.com



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