Famous female engineers
Female engineers have created and innovated past and present advancements such as radio communications, space travel and search engines. They range from Hollywood actors turned radio engineers, to motorcycle racers and NASA engineers. The following are four remarkable female engineers who shaped our modern world.
Lamarr lived a storied life, working as an actress, film producer and inventor. During World War II she helped develop a torpedo radio guidance system for the Allies. Techniques based off of Lamarr’s system are seen in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology used today. In 2014, Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Katharine Burr Blodget
Blodget was the first woman to receive a PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge. While working at General Electric, Blodget developed a form of invisible glass. This glass had almost no reflections and was used in Hollywood cameras as well as submarine periscopes and aviation spy cameras during World War II.
Shilling was a motorcycle racer and aeronautical engineer. During World War II she developed a fuel restrictor for Royal Air Force fighter planes. During nose dives, RAF planes would stall because the engine would flood with fuel. German pilots knew this and would use the nose dive as an effective evasive maneuver. Shilling’s fuel restrictor enabled RAF fighters to nosedive without stalling.
Johnson was a mathematician and NASA employee. Her calculations were integral to early U.S. space missions. Her strong knowledge of analytical geometry enabled her to calculate launch windows, flight paths and emergency returns. She is a recipient of the presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal. She was portrayed in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.
Women in engineering day
Women in Engineering Day is celebrated on June 23rd every year. It began in 2014 in the UK as part of the Women's Engineering Society’s celebration for its 95th anniversary. In 2017 it became an internationally recognized day.
The aim of Women in Engineering Day is to encourage women to take up interest in engineering fields and to celebrate the accomplishments of female engineers. People are encouraged to research the innovations of female engineers and share them with friends and colleagues.
Women in engineering statistics
Data shows that the number of women in engineering college programs and professions is growing. From 2010 to 2016 there was a 77% increase in bachelor’s degrees awarded to women in engineering and engineering technology fields.
What percentage of engineers are female?
16% of engineers are female.
What percentage of STEM and engineering majors are female?
In 2018 there were 136,233 engineering bachelor degrees awarded. Women earned almost 22% of engineering bachelor’s degrees that year for a total of approximately 29,970 degrees.
How many female engineers are there in the US?
The most recent compilation shows that there are 200,000 female engineers in the US.
Women in engineering jobs
The most popular areas of study for women in engineering are environmental, biological, agricultural, biomedical and chemical. A recent study found that 80% of female engineers are happy with their career choice. 98% find their job rewarding.
Unfortunately, many women leave their engineering careers. The most recent data shows there are 2.5 million women in the U.S. with STEM degrees. 27% of those women have left their engineering career. 16% did so because for family reasons.
It can be difficult for both women and men to return to an engineering career later in life after they have taken a break from the profession. Engineers can help restart their careers by:
Taking strategic volunteer roles. Engineers looking to return to work can reach out to their town and ask if there are engineering projects that they can provide volunteer help for. This could involve reviewing blueprints or engineering proposals for town projects.
Keep up their skill set. Online courses are one-way for engineers to keep their skills sharp while on a professional hiatus. Engineers returning to work should mention these courses in their cover letter when applying for jobs.
Attending conferences or professional organizations. This is a great way to reengage with engineering and build a professional network. Engineers returning to work can see what trends and changes have happened in the industries since they left.