These days you can find women in powerful positions in a number of the world’s most important technology and engineering companies and institutions; though few would dispute that many more women need to get involved in STEM professions, which are still predominately male. Women in Engineering Day took place last month, and we hope that this list of influential female engineers will inspire more women to get involved in engineering careers.
With a degree in computer science and electrical engineering, Chicago born Ginni Rometty, CEO of technology giant IBM, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most influential female engineers. She has been named the most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine three times, and has featured on Forbes magazine’s 100 most powerful people list. She first joined IBM as a systems engineer in Detroit, and is IBM’s first female CEO.
Another graduate in electrical engineering and computer science, Cynthia is the founder of the Personal Robotics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She seeks to create robots which interact with humans in a natural manner, and aims to design robots which can improve quality of life for humans. In the late 90’s she created a distinctive robot head called Kismet, pictured, as an experiment to create a machine which can recognise and simulate emotion.
With a Masters in Engineering from MIT, Sonita Lontoh is an executive at Silicon Valley based company Trilliant. She focuses on the ‘internet of things’ and green technology. She has also studied at Harvard Business School, and is a professional mentor for the TechWomen program, a US State Department initiative spearheaded by Hillary Clinton.
Stephanie passed away last year, but as a chemist working at DuPont for over forty years, she’s had a huge impact upon the world of engineering due to her invention of Kevlar in the sixties, which started the field of polymer chemistry. Five times stronger than steel by weight, Kevlar is today used in a wide range of applications, from body armour, for which it is probably most known, to wind turbines.
5. Helen Sharman
Helen was born in Sheffield and, with a degree in chemistry, has worked both as an engineer and a chemist, including working with chocolate for Mars. However, she makes this list for being the first Briton to go into space in 1991 at the age of just 27, beating almost 13,000 other applicants and giving her a special place in British history. She was also the first woman to visit the Mir space station and remains one of history’s youngest astronauts. She currently works in senior management at Kingston University.