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5 Inspirational female engineers and the lessons their careers teach

Iwied 2023 Blog Post

At Employment Solutions, we champion pioneering engineers dedicated to making a difference. This is why this year’s International Women In Engineering Day theme has excited us. 

This year’s IWIED theme celebrates the amazing work that women engineers worldwide do to make everyone’s day-to-day activities safer. Women who #makesafetyseen are helping to build towards a brighter future where safety is a given, and opportunities are equally accessible.

To celebrate the remarkable achievements of women who have broken barriers and excelled in the field of engineering, we’re exploring five influential women who have made significant contributions to engineering. We feel their careers hold valuable lessons that today’s female engineers can use to empower and advance their own professional journey.

5 women in engineering to be inspired by…

Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972) 
She worked with companies such as General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Macy’s, and IBM. As ‘America’s First Lady of Engineering,’ she was the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the first woman to receive a Hoover Medal, and the USA’s first female engineering professor in 1935. 

Edith Clarke (1883-1959) 
Unable to find work as an engineer, Clarke continued to work as a ‘computer’ and to teach. She invented an early type of graphing calculator and was offered a job with General Electric, and she was the first woman to work as a professional engineer in the US. 

Mary Jackson (1921-2005) 
Jackson worked on several research projects to understand the effects of airflow and improve the design of aeroplanes. Alongside the 12 technical papers she authored and co-authored at NASA, she spent her career advocating for the advancement of women and other minorities in the field. Alongside fellow NASA employees Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn, Jackson’s career was dramatised in the book and subsequent film, Hidden Figures. 

Ruzena Bajcsy (b. 1933) 
Her commitment to the principle that technology and science should serve the needs of people led her to become the founding director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), a research institute designed to facilitate real-world applications for cutting-edge technology and improve people’s quality of life globally. 

Lisa Su (b. 1969) 
After graduating with her PhD, Su was employed at several big names, such as Texas Instruments and by IBM’s research and development department. She became CTO of Freescale Semiconductor in 2007 before moving to AMD in 2012, where she played a prominent role in encouraging the company to diversify and accelerate growth. A skilled engineer and innovative businesswoman, Su is currently No. 34 on Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-made Women. 

… and the lessons they can teach us

The lives and careers of all five of these influential engineers have valuable lessons to teach us that can empower and guide today’s female engineers. Our top takeaways are to:

Embrace Continuous Learning 

The women on our list exemplified a commitment to continuous learning. Take the initiative to broaden your knowledge and skills through various means like further education, night classes, or exploring new interests. Actively seek out opportunities for learning and skill enhancement, such as workshops, advanced degrees, or online courses. By investing in continuous learning, you can stay ahead in a rapidly evolving field, enhance your expertise, and position yourself for career growth.

Build a Strong Professional Network

Networking is crucial for career success. Learn from Ruzena Bajcsy and Lisa Su’s experiences by recognising the significance of building a robust professional network. Follow Mary Jackson’s example of supporting and uplifting others. Cultivate a diverse network of peers, mentors, and industry professionals by attending conferences, joining organisations, participating in online forums, and seeking mentorship opportunities.

Seek out leadership opportunities

Don’t wait for leadership roles to come to you. Take a proactive approach, just like the women on our list. Recognise your skills and abilities, and put yourself forward for leadership, mentoring, and influential positions. Actively pursue leadership opportunities within and outside your organisation. Lead projects, volunteer for roles in professional societies, or initiate innovative projects. By stepping into leadership positions, you can showcase your expertise, influence decision-making processes, and create a positive impact on your organisation and the engineering community as a whole.

Take the next steps in your engineering career

At Employment Solutions, we believe in equal opportunities for all aspiring engineers. We are dedicated to supporting and empowering individuals from diverse backgrounds to achieve incredible careers in engineering. 

Whatever stage you are at in your career or job search, we are here to provide the guidance, resources, and opportunities you need to excel. Join us on this journey, and let’s build a more inclusive and diverse engineering community together.

Contact us today, or explore our jobs page for the latest vacancies.