The best part about college is in being surrounded by like minds.My first Mechanical Engineering class had only a few women in it, so we joined forces, with three of us forming a team. Even if the class was mostly male, having these two kindred engineering spirits working together with me helped boost each of our confidence and success in what some still consider a male-centered specialty. Fast forward to our end-of-the-year project where we were tasked with creating a device to use the energy from one metal ball bearing dropping a foot to cause a ping-pong ball to fly 10-feet or more into the air. After prototyping successfully and building a full-scale model, when our device didn’t work, it was easy to question our own competence in engineering. After talking over these concerns with each other, it helped inspire us in various other designs, so we could work together to solve the problem. Through each failure or success in our designs we as a team bonded closely together in achieving our goal.
Projects may be challenging, but having a unified team made all the difference. In the end, our device was one of only two in the entire class to function within the design criteria.
I believe that female camaraderie and collaboration is crucial for success. For example, I am an active member of clubs such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Having a ‘big sister’ mentor assigned to me through SWE has been a great inspiration in my engineering journey. I believe that we need more support systems like the one implemented by SWE for young engineers working to achieve their full potential.
What if in the future, there were a platform where young girls could communicate with female mentors in engineering? Women have increased their numbers in many professions previously dominated by men, including business, medicine, and law, but despite the great strides made towards gender equality, still women in STEM, namely in engineering, are underrepresented in the workforce.
I think the pairing of those expressing an interest in engineering with a network of women engineers would go a long way to bridge the gaps. The most efficient method would be in the format of either a website or a phone app. In this platform, those aspiring to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics could readily communicate with women that have achieved success in the field, such as college students, graduate students, and those beginning in industry. Nurturing self-confidence can be one of the most challenging journeys. Creating a support platform can only help to keep women in this very important field of engineering.
The future is a bright one for women engineers if we stay focused on the significant strides that have been made so far in keeping more women excited and motivated in STEM – just like I am.