Where Are the Women Engineers?

Only 12% of engineers are women. That needs to change.

The numbers are getting better, but they still aren’t great.

According to Solving the Equation: The variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing , research published in March by the American Association of University Women, more than 80% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs are in engineering and computing. Yet women comprised only 12% of the engineering workforce and 26% of the computing workforce in 2013. And those low numbers reflect increases, with engineers at about 10% in 2010. ESC, Embedded Systems Conference, Silicon Valley

More substantial increases have been recorded, as well, but they are few and far between. Harvey Mudd College, as example, is credited with changing its structures and environments under president Maria Margaret Klawe in ways that lead to significant increases in women’s representation in computer science. The school saw women graduating from its computing program climb from 6% in 2007 to a whopping 55% in 2016.

Mudd, sadly, is an exception. Even worse, many women who enter engineering fields post graduation, filter out over time. And we find ourselves back at the low double digits.

Needless to say this is concerning as we know and have shown time and time again that diversity in the workforce contributes to creativity, productivity, and innovation, not to mention that companies with more diversity perform better financially over the long run. Diversity is needed to steer the direction of engineering and technical innovation.

We also know that in the very near future, the United States will need a mass of new engineers and computing professionals as Baby Boomer engineers exit their cubes and technology continues to become a more pervasive part of our economies, healthcare, in general, our lives. Yet nearly half the population is not approaching or sticking with careers in engineering, nor science, technology, and math.

At the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in December we will continue this conversation. Our panel and networking session, Women in Engineering , Dec. 7, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., will explore professional opportunities for women in engineering, the reasons why women represent less than 12% of engineers, and our panelists careers in engineering-driven professions.

Women in Engineering Panel and Networking Session
Location:  211D, San Jose Convention Center
Date:  Wednesday, Dec. 7
Time:  7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Our panelists, themselves, are exceptional leaders in engineering. Joining us will be:

Eileen Tanghal, an MIT electrical engineering grad and MBA from the London School of Business, who is currently VP of New Business Exploration, New Business Ventures at ARM, owner at The Coder School, Fremont, while also an angel investor/advisor at Goldenspear LLC.

Heather Andrus, general manager, Radius innovation Studio , who has more than 20 years of experience in creative product design and team leadership combining user-centered experience design and engineering acumen. 

Jessica Gomez, founder and CEO, Rogue Valley Microdevices , who is described by her peers as a powerful, passionate, persuasive, and visionary business and community leader who has continually expanded her sophisticated technology business during the most challenging of economic times.

Lisa Q. Fetterman, who successfully made a career shift into tech and navigated the start-up

Comments

It seems that Jed Smith has it right, at least it looks that way to me. Not a lot of people are even interested in engineering, and a lot of those not interested are women. It is a poor choice to chose an education in something that does not interest you, and an even poorer choice to make it your career. I have been very fortunate to have a career doing what I find satisfying and enjoyable, even though some other professions do pay much better than engineering in my field. Oh Well.

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