How to encourage more women into engineering: IEEE WIE's three simple steps

Members of the IEEE and the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) have announced a three step plan, which can be used as a solution to close the gender gap in STEM careers.

The steps are designed to inspire, encourage and empower women worldwide, into pursuing a career in engineering.

According to WIE, and therefore reflected in the three-step plan, females need early and constant exposures to engineering and the sciences. This should commence when a child starts school and follow her through until university. WIE also believe that existing social obstacles need to be broken down, within the business world, and more role models are needed to inspire females into engineering.

The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Expose girls to STEM fields at a young age

Ensuring that parents and teachers are playing a bigger role in motivating girls to consider engineering, as they’re growing up. Introducing young girls to the various field available to them and teaching them what impact engineers have on society.

Maura Schreier-Fleming, IEEE senior member and member of WIE, said: “Children are surrounded by engineering innovations every day and it rarely occurs to them to think that engineers were responsible for any of them.

“Girls need constant exposure from parents and teachers to the more technical side of the world around us and how they can grow up to be a part of creating things that positively impact our daily lives.”

Step 2: Focus on engineering careers

In most parts of the world fewer women enrol onto undergraduate engineering programmes than men. Chemical and biological sciences are the most popular STEM subjects with women, however electrical and mechanical engineering is lagging behind.

“The disparity between men and women enrolled at universities as engineering majors globally underscores the importance of a targeted recruitment program, especially towards the less popular fields of electrical and mechanical engineering,” said Dr. Karen Panetta, IEEE fellow, past Worldwide director of the IEEE WIE and U.S. presidential awardee for engineering education and mentoring.

Step 3: Break down social barriers

Attracting and retaining women into engineering jobs by breaking down the barrios upon entering. This means making sure women are on track for management and have the necessary methods in place to preserve a work-life balance.

 “Women who graduate with engineering degrees are typically stereotyped and moved into ‘girly’ jobs, like sales, consulting and marketing,” said Teresa Schofield, IEEE member and member of WIE in the UK.

“We need more women, like Diane Greene, Ursula Burns, Marissa Mayer and Virginia Rometty, to generate excitement for our young women to pursue STEM careers,” she added.

Live community chats all this month

In a bid to introduce mote women into the field of engineering, IEEE members will be hosting live global chats over the next four weeks. These WIE Live Community Chats will consist of one hour long, interactive video discussions hosted by female IEEE experts.

You can find out dates and times of the chats here.


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