26 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
ough the percentage of female stu-
dents in engineering has increased over
the last few years, it is still not signi-
cant compared to male students. Ac-
cording to a 2019 report from the U.S.
Census Bureau, female engineers rep-
resent only about 13% of the total engi-
neering workforce in the country.
e need for more women to enter
STEM careers, particularly from mar-
ginalized backgrounds, is vital. It is
important because diversity brings
more innovation for businesses
and a breadth of perspective. In
our community of industrial and
systems engineers, we need to ask
how to open the doors for more
young women to enter the profes-
sion, particularly in our eld.
Lets start by recognizing the barri-
ers young women typically face in so-
ciety that prevent them from entering
engineering careers. Many picture an
engineer as a man, based on what they
have seen in the media on what an en-
gineer looks like. Parents and teachers
need to expose young people to diverse
engineering role models and make it
commonplace for them to learn about
female engineers working in dierent
industries and from a variety of back-
Young people may think careers in
engineering are boring and that they
don’t need creativity. is comes from
a lack of exposure to examples of people
working in the eld who can show them
that engineering can have a creative
and innovative side. Interests such as
dance, music and painting can be pur-
sued at the same time as a professional
engineering career. Meanwhile, engi-
neers create all the innovations we see
around us. We have several examples
of engineers who have photographed
themselves playing the ute and pursu-
ing art in parallel with engineering, ob-
taining an interesting and balanced life
as a result.
Young people also have the idea
that they can only teach math and sci-
ence when they study engineering, or
that they must be geniuses in math. Of
course, math is important, but curiosity
and a desire to stick with problems and
nd solutions can also take anyone far
in an engineering career.
Organizations such as the Institute of
Industrial and Systems Engineers must
continue developing programs to ex-
pose young people to engineering. We
can introduce them to real engineers
who can oer testimonies and fun sto-
ries that show how they have used their
creativity to have a great career that is
also protable. Since a lack of exposure
to real engineers is a barrier in some
cases, we as ISEs can provide talks in
schools to introduce the profession to
students who lack engineering con-
tacts, and consider building those re-
lationships with local schools or youth
networks. By geing to know everyday
engineers in the eld, they will under-
stand that its not a maer of being a
math genius but about being curious
and interested.
We can do our part to help develop
the next generation of ISE problem-
solvers and innovators to ensure
that young people, especially fe-
males, have an equal opportunity
to pursue engineering careers.
Show them that engineering some-
times can be dicult, but that they
can reach out to mentors to sup-
port them. As mentors, we can per-
sonalize their experience by shar-
ing what we do in our jobs. If we mentor
marginalized groups, we can share sto-
ries of engineering role models in those
groups so they can see themselves por-
trayed in them.
For such an event, join us during
the IISE Annual Conference & Expo
in New Orleans at “Introduce a Girl to
Industrial and Systems Engineering” at
3 p.m. May 20, in partnership with the
Girl Scouts, to further our mission of
bringing more diversity into ISE.
Diana Berry is an international trade
compliance/logistics supervisor and a
licensed customs broker at Harsco Rail in
Columbia, South Carolina. She is chair of
the IISE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Commiee (iise.org/DEI). Contact her at
Removing barriers to enter ISE
By Diana Berry
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Diversity brings more
innovation for businesses and
a breadth of perspective.
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