Inspiring and shaping the world – together

It’s International Women in Engineering Day. How can we accelerate the closing of the gap and inspire the next generation of female engineers?

It’s International Women in Engineering Day! A worthy celebration, but in my view every single day is Women in Engineering Day. Everyday men and women, together, are developing tech to improve the way we work, live, play and importantly make the world a better place.

Women, however, are still often under-represented in both academic and professional fields of engineering, despite being at the forefront of some of the world’s greatest inventions. How can we accelerate the closing of this gap and inspire the next generation of female engineers?

I’ve always had a passion for engineering and the sciences. From an early age, I had an inquisitive outlook and thirst for understanding how things function. Throughout my career, I’ve never felt held back by being me – being a woman. I just got on with it.

No one should feel limited by their gender, and there should be equal opportunities for all in all professional aspects of science and engineering.

Statistics on the number of women in engineering globally, however, show a male dominance. Numbers do vary across the world. For example, according to European analysis done in 2018 (Eurostat) of the 15 million scientist and engineers, 59% were male and 41% female. This gap expands when looking at those working in manufacturing specifically, where 79% of scientists and engineers were male.

Passion for engineering usually starts at an early age. Sustained education and establishing role models for girls is an important answer to solving imbalances. Statistics suggest that girls are less likely to consider engineering as a profession when studying at school, which must be addressed if we are going to see greater cohorts entering academic and professional paths.

Role models provide huge inspiration to stimulating interest in engineering and sciences. We are lucky to have so many women engineers of our time inspiring others to follow and even forge new professional paths such as:

Mary Barra – CEO General Motors

Christiana Koch – NASA astronaut

Fabiola Gianotti – CERN Director-General

Within ABB I am privileged to work with so many amazing female engineers who inspire me and others throughout the organization. Some share below what drives and inspires them:

Dr. Marija Zima-Bockarjova
R&D and Marketing Manager for Smart Cities and Solutions

“To help build a better world two things are important to me: knowledge and creation. I want to challenge and explore how nature, space and society can improve for the way we live in the world now and in the future.

“I’m inspired by Marie Curie, the only person whose contributions to science were recognized by two Nobel prizes in two different fields. A scientist who dedicated her life to discovery, allowing major breakthroughs in understanding the nature of radioactivity, with numerous applications in medicine and engineering.”

Barbara Panella
Electrification Research Manager

“I always try to be a role model for women in our company, but also for my daughter. I like to show it is possible to reach goals, personal and professional, if you have the will and especially if you love what you do, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman.

“I do not have a specific heroine in science as such. There are so many I could mention such as Marie Curie and Rita Levi Montalcini. I admire every woman who has managed to succeed in a male dominated environment, opening the door for others. As an example, I admire my grandmother, who was the first woman in her village to drive a car and work during a time where women generally stayed at home. Every single individual can contribute to changing things.”

Sherrie Clark
Chief Technology Officer, Integrated DC Power

“I love technology and I feel lucky that I get to lead a team that focuses on driving innovation.  A key component to driving innovation is to have diversity of thought in a team, and to get this we need men and women, multiple disciplines, experience levels, nationalities, and backgrounds.  I hope to lead by example and show other women you can set goals and follow your dreams even if the path you want to go along is not one that is typically followed.

“Sally Ride was my childhood role model.  I loved the courage she had to be the first female astronaut. Sally Ride showed to me you could set your mind on a goal and go after it, even if nobody else had done it before you.  This is important in a field where you are a minority because you may not be able to find a role model you can relate to and instead have to forge your own path.”

Over the next decade, we should all commit to plugging the engineering profession gender gap even further by inspiring the next generation of female engineers to change the world.

How can you do your bit to promote, champion and inspire future female engineers and help shape the world?

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About the author

Amina Hamidi

Amina Hamidi joined ABB in 1998 as a Research Scientist and Project Manager and has held a number of positions with increasing responsibility both in R&D and on the business side up until August 2017, when she was appointed Chief Technology Officer for the Electrification business of ABB. Now she leads a team of scientists and engineers focusing on both customer needs-driven and technology disruption-oriented R&D. She has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the French National Research Institute for Transportation Systems (INRETS).
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