Recently, a group of young girls were asked how they imagined an engineer. The answers were different in terms of clothing, number of pizza boxes piled up in the room or RedBull litres drunk, but there was a common characteristic: all of them were men.
Nowadays, engineering is still a boys’ club. The number of women enrolled in college and graduated is higher than men (INE, 2012). However, the percentage of their representation in engineering is still very low (INE, 2012). Some possible reasons for this situation are:
- There are still stereotypes that assign engineering to men and other kind of studies to women. This is a barrier since women find themselves in an environment where it is more difficult to fit in.
- As there are few women who are sector leaders, other women find it difficult to reflect on someone.
- In general, the engineering world is very masculinised, so it is difficult for women to make synergies.
- Women engineers often face unaccepting environments. Github case.
The feminine absence also has serious consequences in the technologic industry. Among others, it is not getting all the potential talent that half of the population can provide. Furthermore, we are living in a fast paced world, where big technologic products are being designed to cover new needs. Since there are no women in the decision processes in the products or services creation, they are not including their perspective. This is a huge consequence in business, since women are a big audience and have a great purchase decision power.
Women have been historically invisible to engineering, however, engineering is not an undiscovered land for women. There are many females that have set precedents by making a great contribution to this world and can be taken as referents. The person considered the first computer programmer of the history is Ada Lovelace, who created what is know today as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. In her memory, every 14th of October we celebrate “Ada Lovelace’s day”, in which the work of women in science, maths and technology is recognised. Undoubtedly, a great example for all women interested in programming.
Besides this one, many other platforms coming from big corporations support the inclusion of women engineers.Google, Facebook have built synergies with learning sites like CodeAcademy, through the platform DonorsChoose. Here we list the main ones:
- Women who code: This platform’s goal is to connect 1 million women in tech careers.
- The Ada Initiative: This program looks for the inclusion of women in technology through best practices.
- Made with code: A Google initiative to encourage girls to take up coding.
- Girl Develop it: Empowering platform for women that want to develop software.
We find another great example of women succeeding in engineering in the talk of Cassandra Cole.