Encouraging more women into engineering

November 26, 2021

Encouraging more women into engineering

Source: Pexels/ThisIsEngineering

Googling the question ‘what is an engineer’ will give you the definition: ‘a person who designs, builds or maintains engines, machines or structures.’ 

In that regard, engineers are the foundation of and creators of our everyday lives. Without the work they do, we would not see the improvements necessary to keep up with the ever-changing world we live in. 

However, when you google ‘famous female’ and read through the automated suggested results, you see job titles such as singer, actor, artist or athlete. One role that doesn’t tend to come up is ‘engineer’. This is something that we need to change. 

Women in engineering are women in business. They are in the business of infrastructure, building, flying, driving, energy, science, medicine and manufacturing. All of these contribute to making lives better. 

Read on to find out how you can become an engineering hero.

You can also watch my presentation on this subject for the Women's Engineering Society


What type of skills do I need to become an engineering hero

Here at Airswift, we make it our mission to transform lives through the world of work. One of the ways we do that is by helping our candidates identify and nurture skills that will help them take the next step in their careers. 

Some of the skills we look for in our engineering heroes include: 

  • Being a lifelong learner 
  • Curiosity 
  • Creativity 
  • Innovation 
  • Imagination 
  • Passion 
  • Resilience 
  • Adaptability 
  • Collaborative skills 

During his keynote speech at the 2017 IEEE Vision Innovation Challenges Summit, Stanford University engineer, Professor James Plunger, said that the engineers of the future ‘will be a different breed of people than the engineers we educated in the 20th century.”

With that in mind, it’s important for budding engineers to have a change mindset, with the ability to visualise a new future. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, communication tools (74%) and collaboration tools (67%) are the two most important prerequisites for employees to work effectively. Today’s engineers can come up with really great ideas, but they also need to be able to communicate them to each other across genders, nationalities and nations. 

Engineers need to be able to work together in a way that really builds upon each other’s strengths. 

In many universities, students are not required to take a communication class with their engineering curriculum. However, this is something that is really important and a lot of students now realise this, and are getting their communication and collaboration skills through societies such as the Women in Engineering Society

What is holding women back from getting a job in engineering?

KPMG recently ran a study of female executives who represent a range of industries across more than 150 of the world’s leading organisations. The survey found that:

  • 75% of women report having personally experienced imposter syndrome at certain points in their career 

  • 85% believe that imposter syndrome is commonly experienced by women in corporate America 

  • 74% of executive women believe that their male counterparts do not experience feelings of self-doubt as much as female leaders do 

  • 81% say they put more pressure on themselves not to fail than men do 

This feeling of imposter syndrome or self-doubt can hold us back in our careers. For example, if we’re in a meeting with a group of peers and self-doubt creeps in, it can prevent us from speaking up and voicing our opinions, or sharing important ideas.

By not sharing these ideas, we can pull the entire group back from being able to advance them further and transform them into innovative new solutions. 

Engineers have brilliant minds and work well together in many different areas. All ideas should be shared to drive that all-important collaboration, as that is what will drive the engineering industry further into the future.

Laura Newinski, Deputy Chair and Chief Operating Officer at KPMG US, said: “It’s important to realise that most women experience similar doubts at some point in their careers. Our contribution as leaders is pivotal. Together, we have the opportunity to build corporate environments that foster a sense of belonging and lessen the experience of imposter syndrome for women in our workplaces.” 

How women can become part of the future of engineering

If you are currently studying to be an engineer, you are the pioneers who will break through and create the future of engineering. 

Engineers can make a difference in almost every field and within our daily lives.  What could the future of engineering bring to us? Some possibilities include:

  • Electronic autonomous air travel 
  • Remote robotic complex surgical procedures 
  • Boundary-free access to education 
  • Seamless communication in any language 
  • A cure for cancer and other medical breakthroughs
  • Affordable space travel 

What would you like to be known for within your engineering career? 

To date, 579 people have been into space. 65 of those are women. These include Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who completed the first women-only spacewalk, and Alyssa Carson, the youngest female to be accepted into and graduate from the Advanced PoSSUM Academy. This officially certifies her to travel to space and train to be an astronaut. 

Alyssa has been quoted to be driven by an insatiable desire to live life to the fullest, break through the ceiling of possibility, and make a positive, lasting impact on the world. She was only 17 years old when she was accepted into the Advanced PoSSUM Academy, and is now 19.

Heroes are made by choice, through our own determination. Your own imagination and vision decides where you can take your career and how you can make your mark on society. 

What will your choice be? 

Start your career in engineering with Airswift

At Airswift, we have more than 40 years of experience in helping engineers find their dream roles in some of the world’s biggest organisations. Click the link below to sign up to our jobs board and view our latest vacancies. 

Find the right job for you!




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This post was written by: Janette Marx, Chief Executive Officer at Airswift