Every year on June 23rd, we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). It’s a day to recognize women engineers and empower them to amplify their contributions.

Why Women in Engineering Matter

The statistics are stark. Women make up a mere fraction of the engineering workforce globally. According to the Global Gender Gap Report (2023), women comprise only 29.2 % of the STEM workforce, with only 12.4% in C-suite roles.

This isn’t just a missed opportunity — it’s a roadblock to progress. Studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative. A Harvard Business Review article references studies that show companies with a higher proportion of women were more likely to introduce “radical new innovations” within a two-year period and that “organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board (2016).”

A broader range of perspectives, experiences, and problem-solving approaches brings a wealth of creativity and the ability to tackle challenges from new angles. When women engineers have a seat at the table, they introduce fresh perspectives to longstanding challenges, leading to solutions that might otherwise be overlooked.

Diversity isn’t just a trend — it’s a catalyst for innovation.

Female civil engineer presents flood prevention designs to colleagues

Copyright © This is Engineering

Innovation Through Inclusion

Equity goes beyond just having a seat at the table, though. Equity involves creating a fair and supportive environment where women engineers can thrive in their pursuit of innovative solutions to complex challenges. This includes access to mentorship, sponsorship, and opportunities for professional development. In that sense, equity is about dismantling unconscious biases and fostering a culture of respect.

When women engineers have access to the resources and support they need, they can reach their full potential, lead groundbreaking projects, inspire future generations, and become role models who shatter stereotypes. By fostering equity, we unlock the full potential of the engineering workforce, leading to exponential advancements that benefit everyone.

Female computing engineer building Internet of Things device

Copyright © University of Southampton Computer Science.

Building a Sustainable Future

Today’s challenges — climate change, resource scarcity, population growth (to name a few) — require innovative solutions. Women engineers are at the forefront of developing sustainable technologies and infrastructure that solve real-world problems.

  • Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson’s work focuses on developing nuclear power technology that is safer, more efficient, and produces less waste.
  • Debbie Mielewski has led research into sustainable materials at Ford, focusing on developing and implementing recycled and renewable materials in automotive manufacturing.
  • Dr. Fei-Fei Li’s work on AI for social good includes applications in environmental monitoring, smart cities, and optimizing resource use, contributing to more sustainable infrastructure.
  • Dr. Gabrielle Gaustad‘s research focuses on sustainable materials management, including recycling processes and lifecycle analysis.

The contributions of these female engineers, and so many more, are crucial to building a viable future, from designing autonomous vehicles to creating renewable energy sources. By championing women in engineering alongside their male counterparts, we’re not just promoting equity — we’re investing in a sustainable future where clean water, renewable energy, and sustainable practices are accessible to all.

Today — and Everyday

INWED is both a day of celebration and a call to action, emphasizing the importance of innovative thinking that will enable women engineers to be integral participants and leaders in their field. Here’s how you can contribute to this change:

  • For Engineers: Advocate for your colleagues by supporting initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Mentor and sponsor female engineers.
  • For Everyone: Choose products and services from companies committed to diversity and breaking down stereotypes. Encourage females to explore engineering.

Together, we can build a future that is innovative, sustainable, and equitable for all — where the brilliance of women engineers shapes every aspect of our world. The power to build this future lies within us. Let’s start today.

Further reading