To recognize the gender gap in engineering, all you have to do is look around the office. Simply put, engineering is a male-dominated industry, and there are a lot of reasons for this. Engineering is a demanding industry that can take a toll on your personal life. It’s hard to juggle a family and have an engineering career, which is often a big factor in discouraging women from pursuing a long-time engineering role.
There’s also an unconscious bias against women in engineering. I personally enjoy putting on a hard hat and work boots and troubleshooting right in the field, but I’m no stranger to the surprised looks on my male peers’ faces when I enter the construction site trailer.
The good news: we can bridge this gender gap. One of the most important things we need to do is socialize kids and communicate that engineering careers are suitable for both men and women. We need to change the perception of what an engineer looks like within society and impart that view to our younger generations.
Another important factor in bridging the gender gap is putting more women in leadership roles. Many women enter the engineering workplace and choose to leave due to the lack of other female peers and mentors. We need to encourage companies to take a more assertive role in giving women the exposure and experience they need to eventually fulfill a leadership role.
These women are role models to the younger generation of women engineers. A woman occupying a technical leadership position within an organization inspires other women to reach that goal as well.
While a gender gap still exists within engineering, there is change on the horizon. By empowering females within the industry and working with our male peers to change the perception of what an engineer looks like, we can accomplish great things and encourage everyone to reach their fullest potential.