International Women in Engineering Day is celebrated on June 23 every year, 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.
History of Women in Engineering Day
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 labour, 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.
Why is Women in Engineering Day Important?
1. I↓t raises the profile of women in engineering
Women who are changing the field of engineering one degree at a time. 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.
2. 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.
3. It enables women’s voices
Women in Engineering Day uplifts 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.