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International Women in Engineering Day: How It Aims to ‘Shape the Engineering World’ for Female Engineers

April 25, 2020 by Lianne Frith

International Women in Engineering Day 2020 (INWED20), will be in its seventh year this year and with COVID-19-related restrictions across the globe, the annual event has its work cut out like never before.

Established by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), International Women in Engineering Day is a day established to raise the profile of women in engineering globally. Today, the event has a reach that extends worldwide, with participants from Panama and Hong Kong to New Zealand.

To stay true to this year’s theme of ‘Shape the World’, INWED20 is going to need more participation and innovation than ever. If it’s done right, it has a chance to be a real showcase of how women rise to solve engineering challenges and deliver significant results. 


INWED 2020 Theme: Shape the World

Every year, INWED aims to recognise the careers available to women in the engineering profession. This year’s theme of ‘Shape the World’ aims to tie in with the challenges of an uncertain future.

How will we, as engineers, tackle the problems of climate change, water supply, and urbanisation, for example? And, while the organisers didn’t know a global pandemic was about to hit, coronavirus is a prime example of these challenges. This global health emergency calls for unprecedented innovation and collaboration.

INWED20, due to take place on June 23rd, has been backed by some pretty big sponsors. The likes of Boeing, Mercedes-AMG and the Royal Air Force are all behind the event and what it stands for. Associated events include this year’s awards for the Top 50 Women in Sustainability category. Highlighting the role of engineering in environmental issues and the part they play in building sustainable solutions for climate emergency and zero-carbon challenges.

INWED20 is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate how women are doing just that. Meanwhile, another event in celebration of the women working in modern engineering is the 2020 Young Women Engineer of the Year Awards, launched by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Sitting alongside INWED20, the awards aim to change the perception of engineering as a predominantly male-based career choice. 


A female engineer working in a workshop.

A female engineer working in a workshop. 


The Engineering Gender Gap

Unfortunately, many outdated views and stereotypes are damaging the engineering industry.

One of these is the misconception that engineering is a career more suited to men. Unfortunately, these views and stereotypes have proven challenging to undo. And, this is one of the reasons why the engineering industry is experiencing such a significant shortage of engineers. 

Current figures indicate that there is a significant gap between the number of men and women pursuing engineering careers, including electrical engineering. In fact, statistics from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) have shown that only 13 percent of engineers worldwide are women. And, of that 13 percent, a tiny number are electrical engineers. 

The electrical engineering discipline ranks seventh on the list of the top ten engineering degrees for women according to the SWE’s data. The gap is especially prominent in European countries and likely to have a significant impact on productivity, innovation, and competition. 


How Can INWED20 Make a Difference?

Engineering is hailed as a creative, exciting, and challenging career with the opportunity to make a significant difference to the world. 

That career path should be diverse and welcoming to both men and women from all walks of life. Something should be done to close the gap, and that is the focus of INWED20, helping women to realise that there is an opportunity for them and helping everyone to realise their potential. 

While the gender gap won’t be resolved overnight, we need to find ways to reduce it. INWED20 can make a significant difference by attempting to correct the stereotypes and perceptions that dominate engineering as a career choice. For instance, the event exposes the engineering community and the public to stories of successful women engineers. 

Even though the battle is far from won regarding equality, many female engineers are making a name for themselves in the industry. From well-established figures in the business-world to up-and-coming engineers, we can expect our female engineers to make considerable advancements in their fields over the coming decades. 


A female engineer working closely with equipment.

A female engineer working closely with equipment.


What Can You Do to Support INWED20?

This year, INWED20 needs our support more than ever. The organisers are working in partnership alongside the UK National Commission for UNESCO to ensure that the event will still go ahead at the end of June.

No doubt this year will see us participating in different ways, leaning on digital media to create a virtual celebration, if not a physical one. But regardless of how the event is delivered, it will be a celebration of the fantastic things that female engineers can do, even in strange and unprecedented times. 

To help raise the profile of women engineers and encourage others to join the profession, INWED20 is going to need the help of creative engineers. The organisers want to reach as many people as possible to spread their message. Virtual activities can include friends, relatives and colleagues, fellow engineers, and those from other professions, women, and men. 

Hopefully, by all coming together, we can help support our fantastic female electrical engineers to #ShapeTheWorld.

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