Engineering: A Diverse Path Forward

April 1st

By: Neve Spicer, We the Parents

The drive to create, to innovate, and to improve is perhaps one of the most significant traits of an engineer; whether it’s architects designing artistic and highly functional buildings, biomedical engineers devising new methods of medical treatment, or inventors revolutionizing daily life, it’s undeniable that humanity has been led ever forward by their blend of creativity and intelligence. From historical construction like Taliesin to the International Space Station, refrigeration, and even windshield wipers, our world would be a very different place without their work.

Though women have often taken their rightful seat at the table throughout history, and have been responsible for a good deal of scientific and domestic progress, they remain underrepresented in the STEM fields. Just 13% of American engineers are women, [1] and women that do become professional engineers are likely to be paid less than their male counterparts.

In response to important cultural shifts prioritizing the voices of underrepresented classes, including women and people of color, many top STEM schools and companies are making a significant effort to build a diverse future workforce through outreach programs, internships, and scholarships. Thankfully, the future role of women in engineering is a promising one — tomorrow’s engineers can take a great deal of inspiration from today’s trailblazers, including:

  • Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant, who founded her international not-for-profit after being unable to find a coding camp where her daughter didn’t feel excluded. She’s been named one of the 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Tech by Business Insider, and is a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion.
  • The Chair of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, Evelyn Wang, was a collaborator in the creation of an award-winning technology that can extract water from air during the night in arid climates.
  • The first female African-American staff surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Patricia Bath, was also an early pioneer of laser surgery for the treatment of cataracts; Dr. Bath was also the first female member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute.

Read on to meet even more women engineers as featured in this handy infographic, which can serve as great inspiration for creative young ladies.