From Edith Clarke to Stephanie Kwolek, female engineers have been shaping the world for centuries. And whether your job is getting astronauts safely to Mars and back (or even heading to Mars yourself), or ensuring that a new apartment block won't crumble to dust at the first sign of an earthquake, your engineering contributions improve the world we live in.
It can be hard being a women in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) career. You’ll be part of a minority, have less opportunities for advancement, and will likely be subjected to unconcious bias that may see you overlooked for roles or projects you’re ideally suited for.
In fact, according to a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the share of bachelor’s degrees earned by women decreased in STEM subjects have decreased from 2004 to 2014. Why? It could be that like me, young girls are just hanging out until Gucci starts designing spacesuits. But more likely it’s that from a young age girls aren’t encouraged or presented with career options that might interest them in STEM fields.
However, hope is not lost. There are a wealth of organisations, nonprofits, individuals and teams dedicated to furthering the cause of women in STEM and encouraging girls to pursue an engineering career. As a women in engineering, you can tap into these incredible resources to help you thrive in your career, and empower other girls to join you.
Here are 27 amazing resources for women in engineering:
Groups and Organisations
1. IEEE Women in Engineering
The Women in Engineering is one of the largest international professional organizations dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists. They host online webinars on a variety of topics and promote a wealth of resources.
Join their Facebook group: IEEE Women in Engineering.
2. Women’s Engineering Society UK
The Women's Engineering Society is a charity and a professional network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration, support and professional development. Working in partnership, they campaign to encourage women to participate and achieve as engineers, scientists and as leaders. They also coordinate a range of awards, as well as National Women’s Engineering Day, held annually on June 23rd.
Visit their website: Women’s Engineering Society
3. WISE Campaign
WISE has a mission: to get 1 million more women in the UK STEM workforce. They facilitate a range of projects, training, and awards to inspire women and girls to pursue and thrive in STEM careers..
Visit their website: WISE Campaign UK
4. Society of Women Engineers
For more than six decades, SWE has given women engineers a unique place and voice within the engineering industry. The organization is centered around a passion for members' success and continues to evolve with the challenges and opportunities reflected in today's exciting engineering and technology specialties. Membership includes access to networking opportunities, resources (such as the society’s magazine), professional development opportunities, leadership courses, and events.
Visit their website: Society of Women Engineers
5. Network of Women in Science & Engineering Student Societies
An informal network of different student societies dedicated to promoting and inspiring women in science. Their webpage includes a list of interesting resources on various aspects of university science and life, as well as a list of member organisations.
Visit their website: Network of Women in Science & Engineering Student Societies
6. Graduate Women of Science
Graduate Women in Science has been empowering women as individuals and as a community since 1921. For almost 100 years they have worked to advance the participation and recognition of women in scientific fields through grants, awards and fellowships. Our mission is simple: to build a global community that inspires, supports, recognizes, and empowers women in science through awards and fellowships, committees, their bulletin, conferences and local events.
Visit their website: Graduate Women of Science
7. Anita Borg Institute
The Anita Borg Institute is a social enterprise founded on the belief that women are vital to building technology that the world needs. They aim to accelerate the pace of global innovation by working to ensure that the creators of technology mirror the people and societies who use it. Members can participate in networking, start a “lean-in” circle in their local area, use the job boards and career resources, or attend events.
Visit their website: Anita Borg Institute
8. Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN)
WEPAN is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1990 to be a catalyst for change to enhance the success of women in the engineering professions. They connect people, research and practice; and power initiatives, projects and professional development that equip advocates with the tools to create sustainable, systems-level changes that allow ALL in engineering to thrive.
Visit their website: Women in Engineering ProActive Network
9. Soapbox Science
A clever public outreach organisation for promoting women scientists and the science they do. Their events transform public areas into an arena for public learning and scientific debate; following the format of London Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner, which is historically an arena for public debate. Anyone in the audience has the opportunity to enjoy, learn from, heckle, question, probe, interact with and be inspired by some of our leading scientists.
Visit their website: Soapbox Science
A professional website where anyone currently studying in STEM fields can go to find a mentor in the industry. Mentoring happens via email and online channels, and can be an excellent way for a student to be introduced to the real world scenarios of a STEM job. Mentees are twice as likely to land a job in their chosen field after graduation. This site isn’t women-specific but is a great place for women to find support.
Find your mentor or mentee: MentorNet
MentorSET is a cross-sector mentoring scheme to support women in science, engineering and technology. it is coordinated by the Women's Engineering Society (WES) and is open to WES members and their partner organisations. The programme is unique in that while it provides mentoring options for students, it also has a focus on senior engineers and women returning to the workforce.
Find your mentor or mentee: MentorSet
12. IET Young Women Engineer of the Year
This award recognises the very best women engineers and technicians, and aims to see them rewarded for their remarkable achievements. There are three awards available for young women (aged 18-35), who currently work in the UK and have obtained at least the HNC/HND qualification, (or be an apprentice for the Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices). You do not have to be a member of the IET to enter.
Register your interest: IET Young Women Engineer of the Year
13. Women in Construction & Engineering Awards
These awards recognise women across Europe who have excelled in the fields of Engineering and Construction. Companies nominate star employees for a list of categories and finalists are invited to an annual awards dinner. The awards were designed to encourage companies to recognise and celebrate women in STEM and construction fields.
Register your interest: Women in Construction & Engineering Awards
14. Top 50 Women in Engineering
Administered by the WES, every year this award recognises the best of the best in the engineering world. This initiative aims to boost female uptake of engineering roles and careers by celebrating the notable achievements made by women in the sector. The page includes biographies and interviews with previous winners, as well as articles about women in the engineering industry.
Follow the awards: Top 50 Women in Engineering
Blogs and Websites
15. Women Rock Science
Image of pharmacologist, Dr. Frances Kelsey, via Women Rock Science
A great tumblr blog dedicated to sharing the stories of women and girls in science. Contains many entries on historic discoveries and innovaters, as well as modern women exploring the world (and the universe). Designed to be explored by girls in primary and high school interested in a career in science.
Visit the blog: Women Rock Science
16. Mums in Science
Affiliated with Euroscicon, Mums in Science is blog and resource page dedicated to women in science who are also mothers. The site includes articles on returning to work, managing career stress and bullying, baby and toddler parenting tips, and job offers from across the globe.
Visit the blog: Mums in Science
17. Sense about Science
Sense about Science is an independent campaigning charity that exists to challenge the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life. They advocate openness and honesty about research findings, and work to ensure the public interest in sound science and evidence is recognised in public discussion and policy making. They focus on socially and scientifically difficult issues where evidence is neglected, politicised or misleading. Issues of women in science are covered, as well as other issues of race, gender, politics, and bias.
Visit the website: Sense about Science
ScienceGrrl is an organisation passionate about celebrating women in science and passing on the love of science to the next generation. Their website features news, views, and interviews by, for, and about female scientists, and they also facilitate other cool projects such as the ScienceGrrl calender, promoting a different female scientist each month.
Visit the blog: ScienceGrrl
19. 4000 Years of Women in Science
A slighly-outdated website template, but a wonderful treasuretrove of stories and biographies on women in science. Biographies are listed by discipline, so its easy to find inspiring women in your particular field of interest. The site is maintained and updated by Dr. Deborah Crocker of University of Alabama and Dr. Sethanne Howard, retired from US Naval Observatory – both distinguished astronomers.
Visit the webiste: 4000 Years of Women in Science
Resources for Girls
20. Engineer Girl
An educational website set up by the National Academy of Engineering to promote opportunities for girls in engineering. The site includes information about what engineers do, different career paths, college information, and interviews with prominent engineers. One of the most useful features of Engineer Girl is a comprehensive list of scholarships for girls interested in entering university, or in the middle of their degree in a science or engineering field.
Visit the website: Engineer Girl
STEMettes is a non-profit organisation that run all-female hackathons and app-building workshops, as well as other events around the world. They have a lively blog and social media presence promoting women in STEM, and aim to partner young girls with women already working in STEM for mentorship and inspiration.
Visit the website: STEMettes
An international non-profit promoting women in STEM, Robogals recruit volunteers with STEM experience (teachers, researchers, students, scientists, and engineers) across the world to teach workshops aimed at young girls who don’t think they’d be good at STEM subjects “because they are girls.”
Visit the website: Robogals
23. Nerd Girls
Nerd Girls was started by Dr. Karen Panetta, a professor at Tufts University, to empower her female engineering students and challenge the stereotypes and myths about women in engineering. It is now a growing, global movement which celebrates smart-girl individuality. Nerd Girls runs informal clubs, and events across the world, as well as facilitating a curriculum programme and curating a blog, mailing list and register of opportunities.
Visit the website: Nerd Girls
SheHeroes empowers young girls of all backgrounds to dream big, explore their interests and passionately pursue non-traditional careers. Through vibrant video interviews and biographies and other online content, girls imagine their own potential by engaging with influential stories of exceptional, successful women role models across all fields. The website hosts a number of inspiring interviews with successful women in STEM.
Visit the Website: SheHeroes
25. TechFuture Girls
TechFuture Girls is an out-of-the-box after-school club that has been specifically designed to encourage girls to stay engaged in IT. More than 150,000 girls in over 4,500 schools have experienced TechFuture Girls, enabling them to develop skills through a series of carefully-graded challenges, themed around their interests – like fashion, music, sport and celebrity. Running TechFuture Girls doesn’t need any specialist IT expertise or software, it’s fully curriculum-compliant, and girls love it.
Thanks to sponsorship by Hewlett-Packard, it is free to set up a club in any UK school.
Start your club: Techfuture Girls
26. IEEE TV Channel
I’ve already featured the IEEE on this list, but I think it’s worth noting this other awesome resource they have. An online TV channel showing videos about women engineers created and curated by the largest international professional organization dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists. Many of the videos are from WIE’s leadership conference, and include inspiring and thought-provoking talks.
Visit the channel: IEEE TV
27. Unconscious Bias @ Work
As a final resource, I thought I’d show you this article about unconscious bias in HR in tech, produced by Google. Unconscious biases are created and reinforced by our environments and experiences. Our mind is constantly processing information, oftentimes without our conscious awareness. When we are moving fast or lack all the data, our unconscious biases fill in the gaps, influencing everything from product decisions to our interactions with coworkers. There is a growing body of research – led by scientists at Google – surrounding unconscious bias and how we can prevent it from negatively impacting our decision making.
Are you a women in engineering or STEM, or are you raising a girl who’d like to enter the field? What resources do you recommend?