In 2019, nearly 10.8 million American workers were in STEM occupations – computers, engineering, mathematics, and life, physical, and social sciences. It’s a sector of the economy that consistently makes leaps and bounds in job growth, promising great pay and challenging work. But while women make up 48% of the U.S. workforce, they occupy only 27% of STEM jobs. In the engineering field specifically, only 15% of engineers in the United States are women. Engineering is still heavily male – but with work from all of us, we can help more women every year enter STEM fields.
This International Women in Engineering Day, we’re celebrating the women engineers at ECI that continue to make our team great – and we keep an eye to the future about how we can continue to help women in STEM. Because the best work comes from a diverse workforce – the more backgrounds, approaches, and expertise we have, the stronger our work can be. Hear from some of ECI’s engineers about their reasons for going into the field, and their advice to women considering engineering:
Kristal Gruba, P.E.: For women, if engineering’s what you’re passionate about, don’t feel intimidated by being a minority – follow the path of your own happiness.
Angelica Calanog: I became an engineer to push myself out of my comfort zone and challenge my skills.
Kari Wood, P.E.: My kids inspired me to go back to school to finish my degree. I was looking for something that would give me the means to support my family and a career that wouldn’t be boring. Engineering is always challenging, but I’m always learning. Working in infrastructure means that the work I do has a direct impact on so many people across the country – it’s very rewarding to see the transmission line that I designed providing reliable power to a community.
Sabrina Stahler, P.E.: To both men and women considering engineering, one needs to like math and science, and especially enjoy how things work and are constructed.
Kisa Fors-Francis: Women should have patience with themselves when they’re digging into the technical fields and learning new skills. I think there’s a tendency for people to encounter difficulty in the learning process and take that as a sign that engineering is not for them. The reality is, every engineer has their own unique experiences within the process. There are things that are difficult to master for almost everyone. Things that seem impossible in the beginning of the journey become possible, and then routine. Having the willpower to keep working on a problem and the flexibility to change your approach as needed until you find a solution is one of what I would consider to be the most important skills in engineering.
Jenny Stroud, P.E.: I was actually inspired by my mom to become an engineer. I always did very well in math and science and enjoyed it. I liked taking things apart and building things as a little girl. It interested me in seeing how the remote control worked – little things like that. My grandfather was a mechanic, and my uncle was an engineer. I didn’t know too much about the profession after first but then realized it was something that interested me.
Don’t shy away from engineering because it’s mainly male dominated. There are more women going into engineering every day and many are succeeding and leading others. Engineering benefits every day from the creativity of women engineers.
Jamie Cummings: One of my major inspirations for becoming an engineer was wanting to prove to myself and to others that women can do it! My advice for women that are considering a career in engineering is to not give up, and to have a solid group of friends/classmates to lean on. School’s tough, but worth it!