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Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

June 23, marked the 7th annual celebration of International Women in Engineering Day. This celebration of a minority population in an increasingly important and expanding career began in Britain in 2014 to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Women’s engineering Society1.

Currently, women make up only 14% of the engineering workforce according to the PEW Research Center and that is with the added buffer of women in architecture positions included2. While women in engineering are still a minority, their contributions are not nearly as small. For instance, Edith Clarke was a pioneer in computing and engineering; Dr. Persis Drell became the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the Stanford School of Engineering; Dr. Nina Tandon is the co-founder of the first company to grow human bones for reconstruction; Rebecca Clark, Operations Executive for a Global Construction Firm; and silver screen star Hedy Lamarr, invented a device that changed the communications tactics used in WWII and were used in modern cell phones.

According to InternationalWomensDay.com “the idea behind National Women in Engineering Day is to encourage all groups (Governmental, educational, corporate, Professional Engineering Institutions, individuals and other organisations[sic]) to organise[sic] their own events in support of the day, and link them together for maximum impact.3

Another article, posted on OilVoice, quoted Shiby Bernard, Chief Operations Officer at McMenon Engineering Services as saying:

“To every female out there, girls in school or women interested in engineering and looking to switch careers into engineering related roles as I did, I'd just like to say: go out and explore the variety of options within engineering and find one that will allow you to express yourself best.

The gender stereotypes around engineering are perhaps an obvious barrier. In addition to the stereotypes that men are better at engineering, and that engineering is better suited for men, there is another: that women are not interested in science or engineering. Growing up in India, which has a very rigorous education system, I have first-hand experience of how good girls are in STEM subjects and the large number of girls who pass out every year with top grades has proved the above stereotypes are seriously flawed.4

Capitol Tech’s own campus community celebrates people of all genders and backgrounds who want to pursue a career in engineering, but the university has special days to recognize the persistence and contributions of minorities in engineering, including women.

Capitol Tech’s own Dr. Garima Bajwa, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and officer for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), is an extremely talented and beloved professor who champions her students and leads other female engineers by example.

“Everybody knows what to do, how to do. The why is what not everybody is thinking about. The engineering field is not cookie cutter; there are a lot of different types of engineering. But like, if you are interested in robotics, what part of robotics?,” Dr. Bajwa advised hopeful engineers. “You can be a good programmer and still be involved in creating the robot. You can be a good electrical engineer and help to assemble and come up with awesome parts for the robot. You can be a cyber expert and still be part of a robotics team. On the plate there’s everything for everyone, in every field. You have to pick apart what you like. Why you want to be an engineer should come from how you want to contribute that relates to your interest.”

Dr. Bajwa regularly participates and helps to organize a week in celebration of Capitol Tech’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). The chapter was revitalized in 2017 by student Kimberly Brandenburg and her classmate.

In February of 2017, my classmate Christina and I decided we wanted more recognition for females in this field…and we wanted to create a community where we help each other set ourselves up for successful futures. So we brought SWE back,” Brandenburg said.

SWE is the largest nonprofit educational and service organization representing student and professional women in engineering and technical fields. Its mission is to stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life and demonstrate the value of diversity. To join SWE, email swe@captechu.edu.

For more information on International Women in Engineering Day, there are many celebratory videos available on YouTube including Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day 2019” which provides an overview of influential female engineers throughout history published on Sage Publishing’s YouTube Channel. Other videos of modern female engineers published on YouTube this year include: “Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day!” by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team; “International Women in Engineering Day 2020 - Shape The World by Network Rail; and International Women in Engineering Day 2020” by the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

Click here to learn more about Capitol Tech's many engineering degrees that provide hand-on experience including undergraduate certifications, associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees.

  1. Chandler, C. (2020, June 23). Female engineers still in the minority, but numbers continue growing. Retrieved from https://www.alabamanewscenter.com/2020/06/23/female-engineers-still-in-the-minority-but-numbers-continue-growing/.
  2. PEW Research Center. (2018, January 8). Representation of women in STEM jobs varies widely. Retrieved from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/women-and-men-in-stem-often-at-odds-over-workplace-equity/ps_2018-01-09_stem_0-02/.
  3. International Women’s Day. Celebrate National Women in Engineering Day (NWED). Retrieved from https://internationalwomensday.com/Activity/7331/Celebrate-National-Women-in-Engineering-Day-NWED-.
  4. Donaldson, J. (2020, June 24). International Women In Engineering Day: an opportunity to celebrate successes. Retrieved from https://oilvoice.com/Press/43745/International-Women-In-Engineering-Day--an-opportunity-to-celebrate-successes.