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Voices of Women in Engineering

With International Women in Engineering Day on June 23, listen to these powerful comments from women engineers in the US.

June 19, 2024

9 Min Read
With International Women in Engineering Day
Wanlee Prachyapanaprai for iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

At a Glance

  • In 2023, the percentage of women professionals in engineer had grown to 16.7%.
  • This day is a call to action for gender equality in engineering. – Annemie Vanoosterhout, Datadobi
  • It is essential to elevate other women around us. – Luz Geist, Cubic Defense

International Women in Engineering Day will celebrate its 11th year on June 23. This day of recognition was launched by the UK’s Women’s Engineering Society (WES). The organization has worked for over a hundred years to encourage equality for women in engineering. Today the WES mission is to support women in engineering to fulfill their potential and support the engineering industry to be inclusive.

As for US employment of women engineers, progress has been slow. According to the Society of Women Engineers, the number of men and women working in life science occupations, such as biological sciences, has reached parity. Yet the percentage of women employed in engineering has increased slowly in the last three decades. In the 1990’s women represented nine percent of those working in architecture and engineering. By 2023, the percentage of women professionals in those fields had grown to 16.7 percent, a stubbornly low percentage.

We reached out to women engineers in the US to get their view of the world of women in engineering.

Fern Yoon, director of automotive systems engineering at Texas Instruments

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Our industry has come a long way in how we support women in STEM, but there’s definitely more progress to be made. So many women have supported and shaped my career and I hope to do the same by being the type of leader I needed when I started out on this path. Women belong in engineering, and it is important to recognize the impact they make in the field every day.

Related:Driving Positive Change: Women's Impact in the Electric Vehicle Industry

Divya Ananthanarayanan, VP of engineering at Exabeam 

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It's no secret that there are still notable barriers for women entering or staying in engineering. Despite progress toward greater diversity and inclusion over the past decade, women still make up less than 13% of the engineers in the US, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

A critical step in fostering a more representative engineering community is through early education and encouragement. Organizations should aim to nurture the next generation of women engineers by promoting STEM education among young girls. This can be achieved through engaging activities and internship programs in corporate engineering settings. Additionally, organizations can enhance recruitment and retention of women in these roles by developing targeted strategies to attract more female candidates and  focus on retention through ongoing professional development and supportive networks.

Along with attracting and retaining talent in the field, it is essential to prioritize women’s wellness throughout their career journey. Flexible workplace policies and unwavering support can make a significant difference in retaining women in the tech industry and ensuring their success, especially as they ascend to leadership positions. Remember there is still so much more that needs to be done to highlight and uplift women in engineering. Companies seeking diversity must actively demonstrate and pursue it. When they do, the benefits are substantial.

Related:My Journey as a Woman in Batteries: A Quest for Diversity & Empowerment

Luz Geist, director of engineering at Cubic Defense 

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As a female engineer established in my career, I have learned to embrace the good with the bad life lessons along the way, they made me who I am today. Fundamentally, to continue growing and learning, it requires challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone not for the certainty of outcome, but for the certainty that you will come out wiser. The value comes when one learns to harness those experiences to support other women striving to meet their ambitions. In today’s fast-paced world it is essential to elevate other women around us, be a good role model and mentor. I always encourage learning from someone else’s experiences, ask questions, push boundaries and take chances. Realize, YOU can inspire change, create a positive, diverse and supportive work environment.

Women in STEM careers have certainly grown since I became a systems engineer. However, women are still underrepresented in STEM occupations. Regardless of how inclusive and supportive a workplace is, the reality is there will always be more work to be done around fostering environments that enable women to succeed in STEM careers.  

Furthermore, I would encourage organizations to take the opportunity to listen to female voices coming up through the ranks, create new initiatives that foster the growth of STEM positions. While I am thankful to work with a team and organization that supports these efforts, it’s important for business leaders to actively listen, incorporate and embrace new values from the top down. 

By promoting and encouraging these values, women and organizations in STEM fields like engineering can authentically celebrate initiatives like International Women in Engineering Day.

Annemie Vanoosterhout, release and project manager at Datadobi 

As we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, let's take a moment to honor the remarkable achievements of women engineers around the world. This day is not just about recognition; it's a call to action for gender equality in engineering. It's essential for everyone, regardless of gender, to create inclusive workspaces. Remote work is one way to allow for more flexible hours and benefit women tasked with balancing their family life and their job responsibilities. However, the responsibility to challenge the status quo doesn't solely lie with organizations: as women, we must also push beyond perceived limitations.

The key to accomplishing change is collaboration, and it should not be a solitary endeavor. Together, we can make a significant impact and pave the way for future generations of women engineers. Let's celebrate this day by reaffirming our commitment to equality, empowerment, and excellence for all in engineering.

Chrissay Brinkmann, presales engineer at Leaseweb USA

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As a woman in STEM, I've faced the challenge of feeling the need to demonstrate my value and expertise alongside my male counterparts, something I think other women in my field can relate to. Thankfully, I believe that women have made immense progress in the past 15 years, with more and more women joining the tech industry without having to face the same difficulties that many other women, including myself, experienced at the start of their careers.

Everyone approaches situations uniquely and from my experience, gender parity in STEM provides diverse perspectives, enhances efficiency and facilitates creative solutions. A word of advice to girls and women interested in engineering: there are a multitude of programs to help you find your niche so do your research and remember, a career in STEM puts you at the forefront of technology.

Prerana Singhal, founding engineer at Traceable AI 

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Occupations like engineering and tech are no longer considered jobs specifically for men. I am very glad to see that women's interests in STEM are now being fostered instead of being deterred by what was considered a “societal norm” for women. While there is still a long way to go, strides have been made in ensuring that women have a place in the engineering field. Now we must continue to pave the way for the new generation of female engineers. Young girls need to see more examples of female engineers, they need to see their accomplishments be celebrated, and they need to know that this line of work can be so much fun.

Chen Webber-Kentor, group product manager at Zerto 

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Now in its 11th year, International Women in Engineering Day serves as a reminder of the hard work and contributions that women engineers make every day but also to call attention to the gender gap in the engineering industry. Globally, women hold less than 30% of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs, but in my role as group product manager at Zerto, I have the pleasure of working with a diverse and talented team of engineers. As we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, I reaffirm my belief that gender parity in STEM provides diverse perspectives and unique problem-solving approaches that lead to more innovative and balanced solutions.

My passion for engineering lies in its challenging nature and the creative possibilities it offers, and I actively encourage more girls and women to pursue this exciting field. Achieving gender equality in STEM requires a proactive approach: setting clear objectives, crafting opportunities, and imparting the significance of diversity and inclusion to all employees. Additionally, fostering an inclusive culture, where women have equal opportunities for career advancement, is key for an organization’s success.

Soujanya Namburi, software engineer at Traceable AI 

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Young girls can be inspired to pursue careers in engineering by introducing them to STEM opportunities early on, fostering their interests through mentorship programs or clubs, and showcasing diverse role models in the field. For existing female engineers, employers can foster an environment where women feel comfortable leading by prioritizing respect and inclusivity. They can do this by implementing equal pay initiatives and being transparent with promotion processes to ensure fairness and opportunity for all employees. Additionally, they can implement a culture of zero tolerance for discrimination and open communication. These things will help create a supportive atmosphere where women can thrive in leadership roles without fear.

Deepika Gajaria, VP of GTM and strategy at Securin 

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The STEM field has historically faced challenges in embracing new perspectives and voices. However, you possess the qualities necessary to thrive in this field if you have a passion for problem-solving, a curious mindset, a desire to make an impact, and a willingness to learn and network.

Within my own journey, the experiences and qualities I collected throughout my career have provided me with valuable insights that the technology industry and my organization values. Because of this, I am passionate about enabling more women and individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue their dreams in STEM.

Those willing to learn, build connections, ask questions, and tackle problems independently have significant opportunities to contribute meaningfully, no matter their background.

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