We address the gender gap among engineering professionals

This month, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to reflect on the gender gap among female engineering professionals by revisiting an IG Live session between two alumni that we organized last year.

For women working in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (a group of academic disciplines known by the term STEM), their workplace is sometimes a more hostile environment than that experienced by their male colleagues. Discrimination usually manifests itself through small and subtle triggers, such as the fact that their gender is perceived as an impediment to professional success, in some cases historically inculcated from teaching, lack of role models and the common imaginary.

On the occasion of 8M, last year we invited Tania Herrera-Lasso and Ariadna Soto, both Elisava Alumni and engineers with experience in the automotive sector, to showcase their experiences within a highly masculinized sector.

In that meeting, both women showed that many female engineers have to play a role that is not theirs in order to be listened to, this role may involve changing the way they dress or act according to traditionally more masculine values. Promoting and elevating attributes that have been considered masculine, such as productivity, strength or competition, causes imbalances in organizations and discredits values such as empathy, listening or conciliation that have historically been considered feminine. This scale of values ends up silencing women and materializing in the so-called glass ceiling, an invisible barrier that restricts and prevents their professional development. An example of this would be the biases surrounding maternity or the salary gap, which end up pushing women out of the most responsible positions in business.

Born from the resilience of many women from different fields of work, who have seen their aspirations diminished or suffered some kind of discrimination at work, projects such as Next Gen Women – mentioned by Ariadna herself during the talk – are born, a network for women of different generations where they can share, learn, reflect and be inspired to build successful careers.

On behalf of Elisava Alumni, we encourage women designers and engineers from different generations to open spaces for debate, share ideas and reflections in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas and contribute to empowerment so that neither fear nor discrimination can hide talent.