Why we need more women in engineering

We face a crisis. To reflect the diversity of our world, our profession requires more women engineers, as engineering faculty members or in engineering jobs. It is simply the right thing to do.

Broadly, there is only a single woman engineer practising for every four men. Therefore, the case for more women engineers can be made based on equity and fairness. Our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau summed this up best when asked why he insisted on gender parity in his cabinet: “Because it’s 2015″ and it’s time for change.

A more nuanced case for gender parity in engineering can be made to increase the diversity of opinions that drives meaningful innovation. The need for gender equality is even more acute in today’s uncertain economy. A report released by the World Economic Forum in January found that women are expected to be the major casualties of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Two thirds of job losses associated with mass digital change, or the Internet of Things, will be in white-collar positions, such as administrative assistants. Women are over represented in these fields. At the same time, jobs in STEM fields that are focused on smart systems are forecasted to rapidly grow.

Women are not yet fully represented at the engineering table and could suffer significant economic losses as a result. McMaster Engineering must to do its part. We are and will continue to do so.

Our community has dedicated itself to broadening participation in engineering.  We are inspiring young women to change our world by pursuing an engineering degree.

We support female students of many ages in a variety of ways, from camp programs, clubs, and conferences to scholarships for elementary and high school students. Through programs such as career exploration and the experiential learning event Go ENG Girl and others, young girls learn how engineering and science can influence our daily lives for the better.

McMaster Engineering faculty members, many of them women, mentor prospective and current students through speed mentoring, networking and other programs. As well, about half of our women engineering students act as ambassadors on campus and offer peer-to-peer support, for instance through the Big Sister Little Sister program.

As a result, we’re improving the number of women engineering students at McMaster.  In September 2015, 21.3% of the students registered in Engineering 1, up from 11.7% in 2005.

While our journey to attract more women to engineering must take many more steps, we have covered some distance in projecting McMaster Engineering as a destination of value for women. Hence, an increasing number of women now select McMaster Engineering as their preferred program of study.

There’s considerable work to be done and I look forward to sharing even better news in the future.


2 thoughts on “Why we need more women in engineering

  1. Excellent article. My daughter is just finishing up her first year of engineering at McMaster and has proclaimed this the best year of her life. She has felt welcomed, accepted and totally respected by faculty and fellow students. Well done McMaster Engineering !


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