How to Get Ahead as a Woman in Engineering


Women in mechanical engineering are still somewhat of an anomaly. They represent a very small proportion of the number of students in mechanical engineering Ontario programs, as well as a small proportion of employed mechanical engineers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women working as mechanical engineers have remained about the same in recent years. They made up 5.9 percent of the total mechanical engineering workforce in 2009, and the percentage was 5.8 just five years previously. Most of the increase in the number of four-year engineering degrees awarded in the United States was from male graduates between 2000 and 2008.

The percentage of women receiving undergrad engineering degrees was reduced from 20.5 to 18.5 during this period. Women in graduate engineering programs increased, however, by about 2,300 from about 20.5 percent to 22.5 percent, according to the National Science Foundation. There is some hope that women engineers will start to make up more of the engineering workforce, after all.

Employers are actively recruiting women mechanical engineers. Pages on their websites are devoted to diversity, and they encourage female engineers to apply for their open positions. Universities are likewise making diversity statements on their websites in their engineering departments telling women engineers that they are welcome at the university as students and as researchers and instructors.

To find a job in mechanical engineering, you will have to be persistent and do your research. If you need more skills, consider going back to school for a graduate degree.

Join a mechanical engineering society if you are not already a member of one. Look for regional organizations like societies for mechanical engineering Ontario that can put you in touch with local employers. Go to their conventions, meetings and participate actively in their online forums or other networking opportunities. Read through the organization’s job postings if it publishes them in a newsletter or on its website.

If you are a student, join the mechanical engineering society on campus. Many universities have special student groups devoted to women engineering students. These programs offer networking, mentorship and other opportunities that can help you meet people and get in contact with companies or organizations that can offer you a job.

If you’ve had a job as a mechanical engineer in the past, see if your former employer has a former employee organization that helps people who worked for the same organization stay in touch. These organizations help people stay in the loop about job openings in their field.

Visit as many job fairs as you can as well. Talk with the people with you in line about what kind of job they’re looking for. Be open to sharing what you have heard about open positions with them, and they may be able to tell you about jobs they’ve heard of.

The key to finding a job in mechanical engineering is to be active and stay persistent. Get to know as many people as possible in the industry, and network as much as possible.

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