International Women in Engineering Day
Launched for the first time in the UK in 2014, by the Women’s Engineering Society, this day celebration is also an opportunity for education and encourages women to pursue a career in engineering. Stereotypes – as traditional views on gender roles in terms of what a female is capable of doing and not doing – have been overcome, more and more women proving that this job is not “too dangerous” or “too hard” for them, shifting that mindset and taking an active part of this field.
The history of women as builders and designers of machines and structures predates the development of engineering as a profession, prior to the creation of the term engineer in the 14th century, women having contributed to the technological advancement of societies around the globe.
Before the 19th century, it was very rare for women to earn bachelor’s degree in any field, as they didn’t have the opportunity to enroll in universities because of gender disparities. The first university to award an engineering bachelor’s degree for women was the University of California, Berkeley. Elizabeth Bragg was the recipient of a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1876, becoming the first female engineer in the United States.
The first woman to be professionally employed as an electrical engineer and the first female professor of electrical engineering was Edith Clarke, in the U.S. She pioneered the field by inventing a graphical calculator that simplified the calculations necessary to determine the electrical characteristics of long electrical transmission lines. She was also the first woman to be accepted as a full voting member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.
In Romania, one of the first women to obtain a degree in engineering was Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu. Born in Galati, she qualified in Berlin, after she was rejected by the School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest, due to prejudices against women in sciences. She graduated from the university in 1912, with a degree in engineering, specializing in chemistry and becoming one of the first women engineers in the world.
The first engineering society for women was founded in 1919, in the United Kingdom – the Women’s Engineering Society – and it is still active today, continuing to support women in engineering to be seen and heard. Held in New York in 1964, the first International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists was organized by the US Society of Women Engineers and attended by 493 women from 35 countries.
While female engineers may still be the minority in the field (globally, 16.5% engineers are women), there is an increasing number of women in science and engineering and many women who are very successful in the industry. For us, at Optim Project Management, International Women in Engineering Day is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing women we work with and their contribution to the construction field.
With a ratio of nearly 50-50 in women – men occupying important positions in our company, Optim Project Management encourages strong-willed women engineers to set standards of excellence in their roles, perform at the top of their potential and take pride in their accomplishments. We will continue to strive for performance and embrace the beautiful symbiosis between our colleagues, each of them bringing their unique set of qualities to the overall company success. – Iuliana Belgun, Proposals Manager & Business Development Associate