Editorial Feature

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day in 2023

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, International Women in Engineering Day is an annual event that works to celebrate, promote and support female professionals in the engineering sector worldwide. As part of the activities, AZoNano explores this year's theme of #MakeSafetySeen, and discusses the efforts being made to secure an inclusive future for women in engineering.

© International Day of Women in Engineering

International Women in Engineering Day 2023

In honor of its 95th anniversary, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) launched International Women in Engineering Day to raise the profile of women in engineering. By highlighting the amazing work driven by female engineers, the global awareness campaign hopes to showcase just how exciting a career in engineering can be to younger generations, working towards a goal shared across industries: inclusivity.

Ensuring equal opportunities for women in STEM transcends achieving an equal gender ratio; it opens the industrial and research community to new perspectives, which will prove invaluable as we navigate post-pandemic life, the climate crisis, and an ever-changing world.

For the STEM community, inclusivity is to invite all to the conversation, involve all in the effort, and include all in the success. For this reason, annual campaigns like International Women in Engineering Day are crucial.

The Theme For 2023: #MakeSafetySeen

The theme for this year’s International Women in Engineering Day is #MakeSafetySeen, which sets out to “celebrate the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing to support lives and livelihoods every day.”

#MakeSafetySeen offers the wider STEM community the opportunity to showcase how female engineers have broken barriers in designing technologies for a safe future. It also serves as a platform to discuss the actions that can be taken to ensure a safe environment for female engineers to work in.

After all, safety includes both physical and mental wellbeing.

In light of this, organizations and companies have already been showcasing the individuals and efforts embodying the meaning of #MakeSafetySeen.

Take the Royal Academy of Engineering, which spoke with Roni Savage, CEO of Jomas Associates, about the actions that could help replicate the rigor the engineering industry applies to physical safety to mental wellbeing.

Make safety seen - in conversation with Roni Savage for International Women in Engineering Day 2023

© Royal Academy of Engineering

In contrast, University College London turns its focus to how STEM is helping to tackle complex crimes like modern slavery, an issue that continues to affect thousands worldwide. In its 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report, the U.S. Department of State estimates that in 2022 there were over 100, 000 victims of trafficking crimes identified, though others argue that the number is much higher.

Speaking ahead of International Women in Engineering Day, Dr. Ella Cockbain of UCL Security and Crime Science discusses the role engineering plays in understanding human trafficking, smuggling and exploitation.

Using STEM to Understand Complex Crime | Ella Cockbain | INWED 2023

 © University College London, Faculty of Engineering

Looking to the Future: The Next Generation of Women in Engineering

While celebrating the innovations led by those in their engineering careers, International Women in Engineering Day also serves as a dedicated platform to conduct outreach programs with younger generations and early career professionals. The initiative has listed 40 UK-based events, with many more occurring elsewhere, to deliver and support learning sessions across communities.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has shown many that in-person interactions are, without a doubt, a core component of career development. These interactions can expose individuals such as young women and girls to experiences and conversations that shape their future.

Continuing to encourage a career in engineering is vital as despite the number of women in engineering increasing over the last 10 years, the number of female-identifying engineers in the UK workforce was reported to be 16.5%. Similar percentages have also been seen in data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that out of the major STEM occupations, the least were categorized as ‘Engineers & Architects’.

Building on their previous reports, EngineeringUK has released a new document titled ‘Interventions to increase girl’s aspirations for engineering and technology careers’. The report was published ahead of the celebration to shed light on the effective interventions STEM outreach providers could use to encourage girls’ aspirations for technology and engineering careers.

Of the several interventions discussed, those with multiple elements, such as hands-on activity, had the most positive findings. Those featuring a role model also reported positive results. Discussing the findings, Evaluation Manager Anna Horgan-Jones, comments, “Engineering doesn’t feature highly on school curriculums so high-quality impactful STEM engagement activities are vital in helping to inform and inspire young girls towards these careers."

© International Day of Women in Engineering

AZoNano strives to share stories from science and engineering with those who can make a difference, and we have seen these values echoed through our own conversations with leading women in science and engineering. 

In 2022, we asked Dr. Kiana Aran from Cardea Bio about what more could be done to ensure that women and girls have equal access to science. Speaking on the efforts organization and academic institutions could take, Dr. Aran suggested that there could be more "focus on improving the pipeline for women and girls interested in STEM early in their educational careers, as well as providing and creating STEM-related research fellowships and opportunities for women and girls to help them learn about the pursuit of STEM-related careers and educational opportunities.

Earlier this year, we spoke with ESA astronaut in reserve, Dr. Meganne Christian, about what steps should be taken to ensure women are represented in STEM professions.

Gender role bias is instilled at a very young age. Building things, coding, and solving small problems should be encouraged and rewarded for all children… This is something that we can all do.

Dr. Meganne Christian, ESA, National Research Council of Italy

Following the success of 2022's events, which reportedly reached 656 million people worldwide, International Women in Engineering Day will undoubtedly continue to inspire women and girls to be a part of the engineering community, something that we hope to contribute to in the years to come.

References and Further Reading

Women's Engineering Society (2022),  2022 Impact Report. [Online] Available at: https://www.inwed.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/INWED-Impact-Report-2022-Final.pdf

EngineeringUK (2023), RAPID EVIDENCE REVIEW: Interventions to increase girls’ aspirations for engineering and technology careers. [Online] Available at: https://www.engineeringuk.com/media/318995/rapid-evidence-review-girls-stem-aspirations-final.pdf

AAUW (2022), The stem gap: Women and girls in Science, Technology, engineering and Mathematics. [Online] Available at: https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/ 

U.S. Department of State (2023), 2023 trafficking in persons report - united states department of state. [Online] Available at: https://www.state.gov/reports/2023-trafficking-in-persons-report/

Royal Academy of Engineering (2023), International Women in Engineering Day. [Online] Available at: https://raeng.org.uk/inwed 

AZoNano (2023), Women in Graphene: A New Era of Possibilities. [Online] Available at: https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=6380

AZoNano (2022), Agents of Change; The Impact of Women in STEM. [Online] Available at: https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5987

Megan Craig

Written by

Megan Craig

Megan graduated from The University of Manchester with a B.Sc. in Genetics, and decided to pursue an M.Sc. in Science and Health Communication due to her passion for learning about and sharing scientific innovations. During her time at AZoNetwork, Megan has interviewed key Thought Leaders across several scientific, medical and engineering sectors and attended prominent exhibitions worldwide.

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