5 Famous female engineers to be inspired by
Author: IntaPeople | Date published: 20/02/23
Did you know that only 16.5% of engineers working in the UK are women? And that the number of engineers identifying as LGBTQ+ is under 2%? This underrepresentation of women and the LGBTQ+ community in engineering is having major repercussions with many people from underrepresented groups choosing not to enter the industry, or to leave roles they’ve previously been successful in due to the pressures of discrimination.
However, women and LGBTQ+ engineers have had an incredible impact on the world through engineering innovations and research which should inspire you! In a previous blog we explored female leaders in STEM but this time we thought we’d delve deeper into the contributions of women and the transgender community to the exciting world of engineering.
5 inspiring female engineers who’ve disrupted, innovated, and achieved!
Explore the careers of some famous female engineers, their achievements, and the skills you can learn from them to take your own engineering career to new heights:
1. Hedy Lamarr
1930s actress Hedy Lamarr might seem like an odd choice but without Lamarr you wouldn’t be able to access the internet on the go. Self-taught but endlessly curious and innovative, in the early 1940s, Lamarr, alongside composer and friend George Antheil, sketched out an idea for a revolutionary frequency hopping signal that would prevent allied torpedoes from being tracked or jammed.
In 1942 Lamarr patented the idea but when radio controlled torpedoes fell out of use the US Navy decided not to go ahead with implementing the technology. However, aspects of Hedy’s idea were incorporated into Bluetooth and GPS tech and form the basis for many wireless network protocols and ultimately Wi-Fi.
Skills you could learn from Hedy:
A true inventor in spirit Lamarr was determined, ambitious and creative. Above all she was never afraid to take risks.
2. Stephanie Kwolek
With a career at the DuPont chemical company that spanned over 40 years, Stephanie Kwolek is most famous for being the inventor of Kevlar, a tough polymer fibre that has uses in everything from ropes, cables, protective clothing and building materials. As well as her work on Kevlar, she also possessed 17 further patents for her research.
Combining a love for sewing and fabric, inherited from her mother, and a deep interest in science and the natural world, fostered by her father, Kwolek was not only a lifelong scientist but was also a mentor for other women aspiring to break into scientific fields and a true educator dedicated to inspiring children in science and engineering.
Skills you can learn from Stephanie:
Keen to pursue knowledge from childhood, Kwolek was a natural problem-solver, leader and teacher of others. Keep growing your expertise, learning and sharing with others in your teams.
3. Lynn Conway
Computer scientist Lynn Conway is a pioneer, personally and professionally, and her work in micro-electronics for research firms and agencies such as IBM, PARC, and DARPA paved the way for the electronic design automation technologies of today, streamlining the design process and enabling electronics companies to develop ever more powerful, faster chips.
Transitioning herself in the 1960s, Conway has been an outspoken advocate for transgender rights since the early 2000s, advocating for equal opportunities and employment protection for trans people in the technology sector.
Skills you can learn from Lynn:
When Conway transitioned, medical interventions of this kind were in their infancy, nonetheless Conway put her problem-solving skills and determination to the test seeking out help for her gender dysphoria. Her accomplishments and persistence continue to push the boundaries of outdated perceptions of who an engineer is and what they should look like.
4. Rose Amal
Professor Rose Amal is a chemical engineer and expert in photocatalysis and how solar energy can be harnessed to purify water or generate hydrogen. Helping to develop sustainable fuels and supply clean water, both critical environmental issues for her homeland Australia and globally. Amal was also the first female engineer to be inducted into the Australian Academy of Science in 2014 and has won numerous awards for her achievements.
Skills you can learn from Rose:
Harness your passions like Amal and always take time to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. Connect with mentors and enjoy the chance to learn from and teach others.
5. Dr Kim Budil
Nuclear fusion has long been thought next-to-impossible in the real world but recently a US team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, working under the directorship of Dr Kim Budil, announced new breakthroughs in the lab that could herald an era of unlimited, clean energy that will fundamentally change how we power the modern world.
Skills you can learn from Kim:
Leading a diverse team of scientists who work in collaboration with one another and with laboratories around the world, Dr Bodil is an expert in guiding teams to success. Take her example to hone your leadership, teamwork and communication skills.
Looking for a new engineering opportunity that lets you grow your skills?
Finding an engineering role that not only suits your skills and experience but also offers you plenty of opportunities to explore your potential and develop your career can be a daunting prospect. IntaPeople offers a specialist recruitment service that takes the time to understand your goals and can match you to an employer who will really help you grow!
If you’re looking for your next engineering role, our consultants would be happy to help you find a job that suits your skills and experience and that will take your career to the next level.
Get in touch to find out how we can help you find your next career move.