On March 31st, IEEE CAS, with sponsorship from IFIP WG 10.5 and Synopsys, staged an interesting panel about Women in Engineering.

The panel comprised:

  • Malgorzata Chrzanowska-Jeske, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Portland – USA,
  • Maria José Escobar, Associate Professor of the Department of Electronic Engineering, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María – Chile and Regional Office Representative for Science and Technology for the Valparaíso and Coquimbo regions, Ministry of Science & Technology – Chile,
  • Sara Vinco, Assistant Professor with Tenure Track in the Department of Control and Computer Engineering (DAUIN) in Politecnico di Torino – Italy, and was moderated by Paola Yang, R&D Engineer at Synopsys – Chile.

More than 65 participants attended the panel.

Each panelist presented her view about the situation and proposed several actions that need to be taken to change the low participation of women in engineering, highlighting the compounding impacts of the pandemic.

The data also shows that the gender gap in electrical and electronic engineering is one of the highest across all regions which suggests it is less appealing for women. Another important problem that was brought up by all the panelists are the gender bias that are deeply embedded in the scientific and technology community.

Other important data presented shows that only one in five graduates in Computer Sciences are females and also 13.7 per cent of patent inventors are female. Worldwide only 28.8 per cent of researchers are female. Another very interesting fact presented was that only 8.3 per cent of people could name even one famous woman in tech. However, women have played a very important role on technology development.

According to panelists, women have much to do and an important role to play in engineering organizations. First of all, we have to make engineering careers attractive for everyone. We have to encourage girls and women to imagine and write their future in science and engineering. We also have to remove stereotypes and social pressure. Other actions to take are to eliminate the salary gap between man and women, as well as it is crucial to increase the presence of women in top level positions in the industry and academy.

A lot of questions were asked by the audience and the conclusion was that the change has to come from all engineers. The participation of women in engineering is a goal that all engineers have to achieved independent of their gender.

This is not a women’s problem to be solved exclusively by women. It is a cross-cutting problem that must be solved by society as a whole.