International Women in Engineering Day is celebrated on June 23 every year around the world, to honor women in the field of engineering. It focuses on raising the profile of women who are changing the field of engineering one degree at a time. It has been recognized by UNESCO and is a befitting tribute for the anniversary of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), which was established on June 23, 1919.
History of Women in Engineering Day
International Women in Engineering Day is celebrated across the globe to raise awareness about the women pursuing engineering and transforming the world with their incredible achievements. For centuries, women have played an essential role as designers and builders of critical structures and machines even before the term ‘engineer’ was coined in the 11th century. However, fields, such as engineering, have been largely kept shut from women. Upon the establishment of educational institutions, most universities didn’t admit women until the early 1800s. Even then, the admission remained sectioned to traditionally ‘female’ fields.
But this has never deterred women from participating in the engineering sector. In 1876, Elizabeth Bragg, unfettered by the gender disparities and discrimination, became the first female recipient of an engineering degree when she got her bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Berkeley, paving the way for thousands of women of the 19th century who followed her lead. We also can’t forget that it was a woman, Ada Lovelace, who collaborated with Charles Babbage to design the first computer program in the world.
It wasn’t until the Second World War that serious attention was paid to women’s education in technical fields. Facing the reality of the shortage of technical labor, quick on-the-job training schedules were launched by major players in the field. Even in the 21st century, STEM continues to be dominated by men. With the gruesome gender gap and hiring discrimination, women continue to endure struggles in this field.
Women in Engineering Day timeline
Elizabeth Bragg becomes the first woman to receive a degree in civil engineering from the University of Berkeley.
Rita de Morais Sarmento receives an engineering degree with distinctions in civil engineering of public works from the Academia Politécnica do Porto, the first woman to do so in Europe.
The Women's Engineering Society is established after the First World War, to support informally-trained female engineers.
The United Kingdom dedicates June 23 as National Women in Engineering Day.
Women in Engineering Day FAQs
What percentage of engineers are female??
In 2019, 19% of the United States engineering workforce was occupied by women.
Which branch of engineering is more suitable for women?
All branches are suitable for women. While electrical, biotechnology, chemical, and civil, are all leading branches for women, they have the capacity to excel in any sub-field.
Is it difficult for women to pursue engineering?
Not at all. The demanding nature of this field has kept women out of this vocation for years, but it is not hard to be a woman in engineering.
How to Observe Women in Engineering Day
Cheer a scholar
Do you have an underrepresented scholar in your life? This is the perfect day to cheer them on. They don't have to be in a field related to engineering because today is all about applauding women for their often unnoticed achievements.
Read about it
There are so many things we use daily that were invented by women: the dishwasher, paper bag, lift-raft, and even chocolate cookies. Spend the day discovering all the amazing utility items that were the brainchild of amazing women engineers.
Fight the gap
The best way to celebrate women engineers is to fight for equal pay. Women in the field continue to suffer from abhorrent discrimination and the gender pay gap. By raising our voices against the harmful implications of reduced paychecks, women can solidify themselves as equal contenders in the field.
5 Shocking Facts That Reveal The Gender Disparity In STEM
The fields in which gaps are highest
The gender gaps in computer science and engineering — two of the fast-growing and highest-paid fields — are especially high.
It’s a killer pay gap
Men in STEM make $15,000 more than their female counterparts.
It’s a boys’ club
Men make up 72% of the STEM workforce.
The scales are twisted
Girls perform better than boys in math yet they make up only 21% of all engineering students.
Teachers and parents often underestimate girls’ math abilities starting as early as preschool, because STEM fields are typically viewed as masculine.
Why Women in Engineering Day is Important
It raises the profile of women in engineering
Several female engineering pioneers go unrecognized. On Women in Engineering Day, we celebrate pioneers such as Kimberly Bryant, who founded Black Girls Code, a nonprofit that provides free coding education to young African-American girls, and many other leaders who have made tremendous contributions in the field of engineering.
It motivates young girls
Engineering is an exciting career choice with boundless opportunities for growth. Such a realistic career path remains overshadowed by the glowy visions of being a doctor or a pilot. On June 23, we motivate young girls to explore the world of engineering and carve out a place for themselves in this challenging yet thrilling industry.
It is an awareness campaign
Women in Engineering Day is a part of International Women in Engineering Day, which was brought into observation to uplift the women who have chosen unconventional careers in STEM. The day offers a platform for women engineers to share their experiences of working in a technical industry, and the challenges they face navigating a male-dominated field.
Women in Engineering Day dates