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Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

Read words of wisdom, encouragement, and advice from our CEC community in honor of this annual celebration happening today.

Official logo for International Women in Engineering Day 2024.
International Women in Engineering Day, presented by Women’s Engineering Society (WES) celebrates its 11th year in 2024.
Oxford and Beyond

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

International Women in Engineering Day, presented by Women’s Engineering Society (WES) celebrates its 11th year in 2024.

The 11th annual International Women in Engineering Day is June 23, 2024. Presented by Women’s Engineering Society (WES), this year's theme is #EnhancedbyEngineering. 

In honor of this annual celebration, we asked our CEC community of women engineers to contribute words of wisdom, encouragement, and advice for the next generation of women engineers. Below are responses we received. Thank you to all who contributed, and be sure to follow #INWED24 on social media for posts from around the world celebrating women engineers and their accomplishments.

"When you consider your job and career choices, even your internships - look for opportunities where you are interested in learning more about what the organization does (i.e. healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, consumer goods, consulting to many different types of clients). You can apply your engineering talents and skills in many different organizations and you will learn much about those organizations - so finding someplace that does work that piques your interest will make the job and your career more fulfilling."

-Mary Ellen Giffels, CEC alumna

"Being an engineer opens doors. Don't think of it so much as a discipline, but more as a way of approaching everything. I started my career as a process engineer.  A few years later I was asked to work in our warehouse/logistics area.  I had never worked in that field, but my boss said, "You're an engineer, figure it out." At the time I didn't have that level of confidence in myself, but he did. I have now been in logistics for 18 years, and running the department for the past 5.

I know fellow female engineers that work as process engineers, quality managers, consultants, and vendor services techs.  We offer the world a different way of thinking and approaching problems.  Voice your opinions, others will recognize your value."

-Jennifer Smith (Walton '03), CEC alumna

"You will, on occasion, get compliments on your work. Save these. Mark each with the person's full name, their current title, the project, and the date. Promote yourself like an architect, creating a portfolio of your best work. Each highlight includes a project flow or any print copy you can speak to, ending with a few sound bites in context to this work. By putting familiar work between you and the hiring manager, a portfolio opens your confident voice to speak on real problem-solving. The closing quotes, delivered as a silent page turn, allow a teasing glance at others’ comments about your work. The best moment is when a hiring manager stops you from turning the page to read. The tech world is small, so when managers read the praise of a colleague, you have opened the door to honestly share that relationship within the limited context of the project.  A portfolio is critical to illustrate illusive qualities like creativity, leadership, and moxie. Hard-to-explain qualities boil down to become your reputation, and a reputation can only be shared through the words of others."

-Kristen Townley McKenna '85, CEC alumna

"Bring your authentic self. Embrace who you are and don't try to fit into a stereotype. Engineering is a diverse field with no single archetype, so let your unique qualities shine.

You don't need to be a prodigy in math or science to thrive in engineering. Your dedication, problem-solving skills, and creativity are what truly matter. 

Trust in your abilities. It's common to experience “impostor syndrome” due to societal pressures, but don't let self-doubt hinder you. Ask questions and voice your ideas confidently. 

Ensure your voice is heard. Don't allow others to talk over you. There are courteous and effective ways to make sure your contributions are acknowledged. Before a presentation, it helps to do a power pose in the restroom so that you are ready to take on the audience. 

Claim your credit. Speak up if someone tries to take credit for your work or ideas because you were not listened to or heard. Your contributions are valuable and deserve recognition.

Finally, be an ally. Support other women and marginalized groups in engineering by advocating for them and by ensuring their voices are heard."

-Beena Sukumaran, Dinesh and ILA Paliwal Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing

"Success in everything you do is about dedication, perseverance, and stubbornness. Don't walk away from the hard stuff. You will be able to figure out the complicated problem, but it may take more time and effort than you think.

You are smart.  Don't let your perception of how smart or how great you think others are dim your light.  You are amazing and don't ever stop believing that."

-Colleen Bush, Director of Industry Relations

"Build up your fellow women in engineering. Support each other and grow together. Don’t go through a door that’s been unlocked and shut it behind you. You are capable and you can help lead the way for the generation of female engineers that follow you."

-Nora Duncan '23, CEC alumna

“I would tell young women pursuing engineering to always be confident in your abilities. I think there is a tendency to doubt your qualifications and doubt how capable you are, and you are just as capable as everyone else in the room. You should keep that in mind, especially when applying to jobs and applying to schools. Because you're capable, you're qualified. Be confident in your abilities.”

-Sarah Freeman ‘25, Current Student (Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering)