As of 2004, only 17.7% of engineering undergraduates in the U.S. were women, which is only a two percent increase from 1984. For many years, there have been efforts in the industry to encourage more women to choose engineering as a career. None of them have been very successful.
Engineering is a great field to work in. Engineers spend their careers serving the public, designing innovative solutions to complex problems, and, corny as it may sound, building the future of our country and the world. And yet, we have failed to draw enough young people into engineering to meet the need for engineering skills and knowledge.
Studies have suggested that women, and members of other groups underrepresented in engineering, would be more likely enter the profession if they saw more people like themselves in the industry. If this is true, then maybe the way to draw more women into engineering is to promote the accomplishments of women in the industry. That’s an important part why we created the Women’s Leadership Network at Woodard & Curran.
But it’s not the only reason. There are many, many talented women already working in engineering, and the WLN will be a resource for them in their careers. As our mission statement says, “The mission of the Women’s Leadership Network is to foster an environment at Woodard & Curran that values the diversity of women, encourages women to develop as leaders and integrates women in leadership positions within the company” The WLN is a way to share experiences, offer mentoring, and simply help women connect with other women in the company and industry.
We hope that the WLN will not only be a benefit to women working at Woodard & Curran today, but to those that join us in the future. And we hope that this process will raise awareness of the contributions of women working in engineering at Woodard & Curran and in the industry as a whole. In this way, maybe we will help to raise the percentage of women in engineering, until it someday reflects society more accurately.
Contributed by Helen Gorden, PE