Melinda Gates, renowned philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft, said: “Innovation happens when we approach urgent challenges from every different point of view. Bringing women and underrepresented minorities into the field guarantees that we see the full range of solutions to the real problems that people face in the world.”
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the world in many different ways – one being unraveling the limited progress various societies and groups have made towards gender equality over the last couple of decades. Research reports that men are more susceptible to severe effects of COVID-19, the financial and social toll is paid by more women. Women in insecure, informal, and lower-paid jobs experienced more loss of employment. Furthermore, Black, Asian, and ethnic minority women were hit hardest by job cuts.
One of the reasons it’s important to encourage girls and women to receive education in STEM fields is that they are more likely to move into a high-paying job. There is a lot of growth in these jobs as well as high employment rates for graduates. Women are at a disadvantage by being underrepresented in some of the most lucrative and secure industries.
According to the UN’s report, Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women: “Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs, are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. They have less access to social protections and are the majority of single-parent households. Their capacity to absorb economic shocks is, therefore, less than that of men.”
Women engineers offer a range of skills and abilities that contribute to the growth of businesses, to solving the challenges of our world, and to advancing technology in all fields.
Yet, as research shows, they continue to face bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. Eliminating these obstacles is part of the reason the editors at Design World magazine produce an annual Women in Engineering issue.
March 8, 2022 is International Woman’s Day. The theme for the International Woman’s Day organization this year is #BreakTheBias with a goal of moving closer to a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Such celebrations are not saying that men don’t contribute to the growth and development of societies, that they don’t solve problems.
Efforts at recognizing women are more about saying others contribute too, and their contributions are just as valid as a man’s.
It would be nice to have a world where special attention on a group is not necessary. But as the quotes that follow show, there is still work to be done.
“I have been in the technology field for over 20 years and have run the gambit of positions from on-the-ground engineering roles to organizational leadership positions, says Rachel Pedreschi, Vice President of Community and Developer Relations, Imply. “As such, I have been privy to and experienced first-hand the oftentimes unconscious biases against women in this field. For example, I’ve been the technical spokesperson lead for my organization countless times. Yet, it is not an uncommon occurrence that during the Q&A session following my presentation, the audience has directed their questions to my male counterpart. Even when that male has looked to me for guidance, and I would take the lead in providing the technical response, the next questions would, again, be directed back to my male colleague. To survive and thrive as a female in previously stereotypical male roles, women must be prepared to actively break biases. We must teach girls and women to assert themselves, which historically has not typically been a trait to which we are attributed (not positively, anyway). At the same time, we need to teach everyone to stop making assumptions based on the gender of the person they see in front of them. Technical people come in all shapes and sizes but there has been a tendency to assume that males are the more technical ones.”
Added Lindsay Mantzel, Senior Full Stack Developer, Retrospect, a StorCentric Company, “While we cannot ignore the tremendous progress that has been made, we live in a world where perceptions of what it means to be a woman or a man are still very much defined by stereotypes. I have been fortunate to have forward thinking parents, educators and employers that have encouraged me to reach for and achieve my goals of working in STEM. However, others around the world remain not as fortunate. This year, as we consider how we would like to recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to lean into the conversation around gender stereotypes. And then, I hope people take action – there are so many ways to do so – from acting as a mentor, to speaking at a career fair at schools, to simply donating to an organization dedicated to the cause. In other words, let’s help close the opportunity gap, with a goal of ensuring girls and women have all the support and resources necessary to reach their full potential.”
Thus, such celebrations as International Woman’s Day are still needed. Attention to women who are experts in their fields is still needed.
Another way to participate in bringing attention to this issue is to nominate a women engineer for our 5th annual Women in Engineering issue, which will have profiles of women engineers who work at Original Equipment Manufacturing firms. We are looking for nominations of women with engineering degrees, such as a BS, MS, or PhD, in mechanical, electrical, physics, or similar engineering category.
Send your candidate’s name and contact information to Leslie Langnau, [email protected] Nominations will close on June 1, 2022.
Filed Under: ALL INDUSTRY NEWS • PROFILES • COMMENTARIES, Women in Engineering