On this day 100 years ago, suffragists in the United States achieved what they had fought long and hard for the right for women to vote. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Consitution was enacted, which prohibited the federal government and states from denying anyone the right to vote based on sex.

Women Continue to Struggle

Today, women in many parts of the world are still fighting for the same rights as men. Even in the U.S., where women now have the same legal right as men, they still earn, on average, less money than men and lack representation in certain career fields like engineering. Currently, women hold under 25% of STEM jobs in the U.S., according to the World Economic Forum. 13% of engineers are women, 26% of computer scientists are women, and women engineers make about 10% less, on average, than men.

When diversity is missing from STEM, it can have harmful repercussions. Not only does it leave women and people of color out of high-paying jobs, it also means that STEM fields are less diverse, and therefore aren’t benefiting from the different ideas and perspectives that diverse teams can deliver. A big problem is that girls don’t often see female role models in STEM. Therefore, it’s important that organizations highlight women in STEM, make an effort to attract and hire women in these fields, and ensure that diversity and inclusion are among their core values. 

Who are Some Famous Female Engineers?

While engineering may seem like a masculine profession, women have made major contributions to the field. Edith Clarke, the first woman to be employed as an engineer in the U.S., was a trailblazing female engineer. A supervisor for General Electric and a college professor, Clarke is perhaps best known for her invention the Clarke calculator, an early version of a graphing calculator. Clarke was also an IEEE fellow.

According to Business Insider, some of today’s leading women engineers include Gwynne Shotwell, COO of SpaceX, Alicia Boler Davis, Executive VP of Global Manufacturing for General Motors, and Priya Balasubramaniam, the VP of Core Technologies Operations and iPhone Operations at Apple.

Girls in STEM

Empower female engineering students and challenge the stereotypes and myths about women in the profession. Visit TryEngineering’s website to learn more about Girls in STEM and NERD Girls.