Women in engineering panel, networking reception and awards acknowledgement at C&E emphasizes the importance of sparking an interest in engineering careers
Sparking an interest in engineering careers was the topic during the Women in Engineering panel and reception atNFPA's Conference & Expo (C&E). Female engineers from Tyco, Procter & Gamble, FM Global and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) spoke about their experience as "the only female in the room", dealing with the reaction to women in foreign countries, balancing home life, encouraging young colleagues to take on stretch roles, and conducting outreach to school and community groups to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.
The session was equally attended by men and women, and organizers stressed that the focus was as much about engaging students at an early age as it was about recognizing the challenges that female engineers often encounter in the workplace. Posed with the question, "how can we attract females to the engineering profession?" panelists and participants all agreed that the number of female engineering students has remained stagnant for the past 30 years. Suggestions for stimulating interest in the engineering field included highlighting how female engineers can help society and solve puzzles that perplex businesses, researchers, academia, and other disciplines (something that females often find important for work fulfillment). The panel session and reception, sponsored by Jensen Hughes, also looked at the importance of critical thinking skills for engineers, the misconception that engineers have to be brilliant, the fact that engineers are always needed, and the observation that an engineering career can be both financially and professionally rewarding.
After the lively panel discussion, attendees then enjoyed informal conversations during a networking reception where deeper connections were made.