International Women in Engineering Day: The engineering heroes of tomorrow

23/06/2021

By Ileana Lupsa

There is no doubt that as a collective we have been experiencing an intense period of transformation as the pandemic has unfolded. This, however, has not detracted attention from one of modern society’s most pressing issue – climate change. As women across the globe can be highly impacted by environmental damage, can they also provide the answers? 

We cannot downplay the necessity of looking holistically across sectors and systems to build a greener future and as such, women present in every technological discipline are focused on world-leading research and innovation that can bring positive change to humankind. Even though the last few decades have seen an increasing number of women holding decision-making roles and working in fields such as engineering, energy, transport, and IT, they are still in the minority. Empowering women to lead the climate change action could be transformational. While it’s argued any gender can tackle key aspects of the innovation required to build climate resilience, diversity brings a refreshing perspective to the table and a different dynamic. My field is full of female engineering heroes:  engineers that bring innovation into cleaner manufacturing methods and processes, repurposing production lines when the pandemic hit, finding solutions to zero-waste packaging, providing green energy, or bringing in circular economy concepts to their business, passion is at the nucleus of their work. 

It becomes apparent that we need to be even more proactive when it comes to inspiring more young women to start their careers in sciences and innovation, using initiatives such as STEM. We are already witnessing increased interest from the younger generation for climate action, hence there needs to be a combined effort from academia and industry to present the tangible outcomes of a career in sustainability. We should be harvesting the motivation of young women to tackle these complex issues and provide the necessary support to develop a gender-equal participation in engineering sustainability. The engineering heroes of tomorrow start off as young girls with the vision and ambition to take care of our planet in innovative ways. 

Ultimately, the women who are rethinking our future in a more mindful, responsible manner need to be not only acknowledged but praised and encouraged to use their voices as loud as possible. Working towards key activities such as the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations as well as achieving net-zero targets requires concentrated energy and strategic planning, which women in engineering have proved repeatedly that they excel at. Climate change is an ongoing battle but if we can also achieve inclusivity while we make our home more sustainable then the outcomes will be highly rewarding.