SimpleQuE Celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

women in engineering by discipline

Chart: Women in Engineering by Discipline – Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014c)

Women have played an important role in all fields of engineering

On International Women in Engineering Day, we recognize the important role women engineers have had in shaping the world. The chart shows the types of engineering disciplines in which women have chosen as a career path.  The first woman to receive a degree in civil engineering was Elizabeth Bragg in 1876.  Many of our simpleQuE team have an engineering degree and manufacturing background which is what makes them such phenomenal consultants, auditors and trainers in the realm of quality management systems. A well-deserved shout out to our very own women engineers: Deanne Sparr, Loretta Greer, Doreen Everett, Jennifer Briese, Leanne Killmeyer, and Natalie Sheflyand! Some of them shared how they became interested in engineering.

Deanne Sparr had a teacher her senior year in High School who really encouraged her. “I had taken an Engineering Drafting class as an elective because it sounded fun. My teacher recognized I was top in the class and told me I should seriously think about some type of engineering. At the time I planned to study music in college as that was all I knew growing up.”  Her Dad also steered her toward engineering. “For years, I hung out with him in his machine shop and at the auto race track, so it made sense to change directions and focus on Mechanical Engineering. I’m so glad I did!”  

Jennifer Briese grew up in a “hands-on” family. She always liked math and knew she wanted to find a profession that would incorporate that. Her Mom’s co-worker had gone to GMI Engineering and Management Institute and encouraged her to go there. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and began her career with General Motors. Jen belongs to an entire family of engineers, with her husband and two daughters also having successful engineering careers.

For Natalie Sheflyand, “There was no other profession in the world, since everyone (at least 95%) in my family – including my father, uncles, aunts, and 1st and 2nd cousins were all engineers. My father was a Mechanical Engineer, that is why I choose to be a Mechanical Engineer.”  Natalie also has an MBA in Management in Automotive Industry and MS in Mechanical Engineering.

The professional and educational accomplishments of all these simpleQuE women is monumental when you consider that women are under-represented in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) fields, which include some of the fast-growing and highest paying occupations.  

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top four STEM occupations among women were:

1. Biological Scientists
2. Chemists & Materials Scientists
3. Computer & Mathematical Occupations
4. Engineers & Architects

Although, engineering and computing are third and fourth on the list, these STEM fields offer the best opportunities for the greatest number of people. Accounting for more than 80% of the STEM workforce, these occupations offer a higher return on educational investment and better prospects than other STEM fields. According to the AAUW report – Solving the Equation, women made up just 26% of computing professionals in 2013, a substantially smaller portion than 30 years ago and about the same percentage as in 1960. In engineering, women are even less well represented, making up just 19% of working engineers in the U.S. in 2019 (up from 1% in 1960).

In interviewing our simpleQuE engineers, it was evident that having a mentor or role model to encourage them to become an engineer was pivotal in their decision to pursue that path in higher education.  So it is important to encourage and mentor young people, especially girls, to study one or more of the STEM fields at an early age, while they’re in school. Not only will it be beneficial to their future, it will be beneficial to the future of our industries.

For more statistics and information about STEM, read – The Significance of STEM and simpleQuE.

SimpleQuE is a leader in AS, IATF and ISO consultingauditing and training.  Contact us to schedule a consult with one of our subject matter experts and see the difference that our experts can bring to your quality management process.

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