Women in Engineering Day: Embracing Diversity and Open Innovation 

By Aleena Rupani

Posted on

International Women in Engineering Day serves as an annual celebration and a powerful reminder of the significant contributions women make in the field of engineering. Recognizing the importance of diversity in engineering is not only a matter of equality and fairness but also a catalyst for innovation, creativity, and progress. In this blog, we explore the significance of Women in Engineering Day and shed light on the transformative impact of embracing diversity within the engineering profession. 

The Data:

According to recent statistics, women remain underrepresented in the field of engineering. In many countries, women comprise only a small percentage of the engineering workforce. For instance, in the United States, women make up approximately 13% of engineers, while in the United Kingdom, the figure stands at around 12%. The engineering industry is at the forefront of human progress, laying the groundwork for how we solve everyday problems and plays a crucial role in shaping society and its future. Excluding a gender that makes up half of the population of the world from this field leaves us with a society that fails to meet the needs of most human beings.

How Open Innovation can help:

Innovation thrives in environments that promote diversity. When people with different viewpoints collaborate, they bring unique insights to the table, sparking creativity and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. By embracing gender diversity in engineering, organizations unlock the potential for ground-breaking discoveries and technological advancements. Diverse teams are more likely to consider a wider range of perspectives, identify new opportunities, and develop solutions that cater to the needs of a larger section of the population. Innovation fuelled by diversity transforms industries, drives economic growth, and improves the quality of life for individuals around the globe. 

While progress has been made in promoting gender diversity in engineering, it is important to address the factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in the field. Various reasons have been identified for the lower participation of women in engineering. One key factor is societal and cultural biases that discourage girls from pursuing STEM subjects and careers. Stereotypes and gender biases can create barriers, limiting opportunities and discouraging women from pursuing engineering as a viable and fulfilling career choice.

Additionally, a lack of visible role models and mentorship opportunities can make it difficult for women to envision themselves succeeding in the field. Structural and systemic issues, such as workplace culture, work-life balance, and limited access to career advancement also play a role. Addressing these barriers requires concerted efforts to challenge stereotypes, provide supportive environments, promote mentorship, and create inclusive policies that encourage and empower women to pursue and thrive in engineering careers. By addressing these challenges, we can work towards a future where more women are represented in engineering and contribute their talents and perspectives to the field. 

While structural and systemic issues may require time to address, embracing new approaches like Open Innovation enables us to tap into diverse and inclusive sources of talent and expertise. By opening up the solution-finding process to individuals and communities beyond our business ecosystem, we can access a wider range of perspectives, ideas, and talent. Not only does this equip organizations with better ideas but it also encourages those less confident to step up and share their ideas with little to lose but a lot to gain. Let’s take one of the Wazoku Crowd Solvers as an example.

Example from the Wazoku Crowd:

Hannah Safford won a Challenge to develop rapid and forward-thinking methods of detecting pathogens in water. Her team’s solution focused on how quickly and accurately they could identify and quantify viruses in water using a technique called ‘flow cytometry’. This is what Hannah shared about the experience of winning the Challenge: 

“We’re both young women — I’m in my 20s and my advisor is in her 30s — and both of us are deeply interested in policy as well as science. These characteristics allow us to bring a fresh perspective to STEM. We don’t want to do science just like science has already been done before…we want to think about the intersections of STEM with education, policy, innovation, and inclusion.” 

You can read more about Hannah’s story and other Solver stories to learn about the inclusive power of Open Innovation here!

Women in Engineering Day highlights the vital role of diversity and inclusivity in driving unparalleled innovation. When coupled with open innovation practices, diversity in engineering leads to more comprehensive problem-solving, fresh perspectives, and breakthrough solutions. By embracing open innovation, we tap into a vast pool of ideas and expertise, welcoming diverse voices that challenge conventional thinking.

Let us celebrate the achievements of women in engineering, promote open innovation, and work together to build a future that thrives on the power of diversity, inclusivity, and collaboration. 

By Aleena Rupani

Aleena is Wazoku's resident social media superstar. Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, she's never too far away from a concert or festival - even when the British weather is at its coldest!