International Women in Engineering Day 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The theme this year for International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED20) is Shape the World (#ShapeTheWorld). ACEC-BC has profiled a number of women and the organizations they work for over the past week, sharing how they shape the world. These women and the work they are doing is impressive and although it is exceptional, they are not the exception: women in engineering across this country and around the globe have incredible experience, expertise, and perspective.

A recent article by Emily Rees Koerner titled Why the Women’s Engineering Society still has its work cut out after 100 years gave us pause to consider the #INWED20 theme of #ShapeTheWorld. On one side, this article points to the significant gender gap that still exists in engineering, including Canada where only 18% of newly licensed engineers are women. The progress in closing the gender gap in engineering is slow and one that requires our continued attention and effort. However, this article also highlights impressive contributions that female engineers have made for more than a century.

Women throughout history have contributed valuable inventions and designs, ranging from bridge building methods to screw propellers used for naval ships and more. Looking at Canadian patent history, the first patent granted to a women occurred in 1855, supporting the assertion that women have been engineering as long as men. We can sometimes identify a few notable women in the history of engineering, such as Ada Lovelace, or Edith Clark, but it is difficult for most of us to name more than a few at best. And when it comes to identifying indigenous women or women of colour in engineering history, the likelihood of knowing women such as Mary Jackson is even lower. These pioneers in the field create a rich history of women who have persevered in a male-dominated field, and have made valuable contributions to improve the world we live in. They have led the way, and women today continue in their footsteps: innovating, problem-solving, and working to improve the world we live in.

Women in engineering have been shaping the world for well over a century and are continuing to do so today. Considering the point made earlier that we still have a significant amount of work to do to close the gender gap, we propose that we can all contribute to this by learning more about and sharing the stories of women in engineering – of today and in history – that #ShapeTheWorld. At a time where we are collectively re-examining our history and the perspective we take when sharing it, we can do the same for engineering.


Caroline Andrewes

Selena Wilson

Marcie Cochrane

President & CEO, ACEC-BC

Chair, Board of Directors, ACEC-BC

Project Leader, ACEC-BC



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