Being a Female Engineer in a Male Dominant Field


Although the percentage of women in engineering has been increasing over the years, it still remains at only 15%. With this low number, many women report that they have to prove themselves repeatedly in order to get the same recognition as their male colleagues. While women make up around 20% of engineering graduates, only 11% of those are practicing engineers. Women also have a low rate of retention, with 40% either leaving the engineering field or not entering it at all.

In my experience, I have enjoyed being a female mechanical engineer. Most people are not expecting a young, small girl to show up to a field survey or construction site. Sometimes, it can actually be useful when a basement has a five foot clearance and you’re the only one who can stand up straight, or when you have to go under and between various equipment. From working in a racecar shop, to working in the field as an engineer building soundwalls on the highway, to now working in mechanical rooms, I have had my fair share of typically male dominant jobs. These have all helped me grow as a woman in the engineering field. Being in STEM programs throughout high school and college also got me accustomed to being one of few females and learning how to work well on majority male teams.

Although I have had mostly positive experiences as a female engineer, it also takes more effort to prove yourself. I feel there is more pressure to avoid making mistakes in order to prevent anyone from thinking less of you and to show you can perform a job well. After hearing the words of my high school biology teacher “You are too quiet and will not get very far in life,” I continue to prove that women are just as smart and successful as their male counterparts. Hopefully the percentage of women in engineering will continue to increase as the field is becoming more popular with encouragement from others.