Monday, May 27, 2019

A Crack in Stereotype: Women in Engineering

Article Written By: Nikhita Nandy


A Crack in Stereotype: Women in Engineering

In the 1800’s, women were denied working privileges, yet a select few rose to the occasion and changed the face of technology.

Many women’s work was not patented at the time. Josephine Cochrane fell victim to this; she invented the dishwasher in 1886. After observing the struggle women had gone through with washing multiple dishes at once, she created a machine considered impossible to manufacture at the time using only a wheel, broiler, wire rack and high water pressure.

There has been a drastic cultural shift globally in regards to how women are perceived; as time passes, more and more people are becoming more tolerant, accepting and appreciative of the contributions of women. For example, due to the shortage of men that who designed comprehensive aircraft components during World War Two, women with academic credentials such as mathematics and physics were requested to join.

This created new opportunities for women to explore engineering as a possible career choice and, led to a rise in female leaders transforming the engineering labour force. Furthermore, women joining STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) careers is a topic that has received great attention in the news within the past decade. these women have inspired many young females to pursue engineering and further reduced the gender disparity gap that existed in the past. Women like Meredith Tesafer are prime examples of this. She currently serves as a senior industrial engineer for Tesla. Meredith was the first person to design an efficient production line system that would effectively assemble components. 

According to a study conducted by the University of California, there has been a growing presence of women in engineering and notably certain schools like the University of Waterloo, in Kitchener, Ontario has encouraged this trend by promoting multiple Women in STEM related initiatives. Such programs encourage women to crush the stereotype that only men become engineers and allow them to enter the field. Furthermore, one reason why these institutions are so successful in bringing more women into engineering is that multiple female alumnus have commented on the diversity within their programs and shared their positive personal experiences. 

Another reason more women have entered engineering includes the common trend of many students wanting to work for big corporate companies like Google, Apple, KPMG and Deloitte. This motivates many students regardless of gender to pursue jobs in software or technology related fields. However, from analyzing the reasons in why women pursue engineering, how does this impact our society today? 

Well, according to an article written by Karsten Strauss on Forbes, Which Big Tech Companies Employ the Most Women, there has been an increase in software firms that employ more women than men. Many software startups, such as Gasto, a payroll software company staff composes of 75% female engineers. Thus, from such companies, society can learn how the stereotypes of women pursuing only healthcare or humanities career options have changed, where now women are allowed to explore wide variety of fields.


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