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What percentage of engineers are female?

In recent years, there has been a major push to get more women involved in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. However, engineering remains a male-dominated profession, especially in certain disciplines. Understanding the current percentage of female engineers can provide insight into how much progress has been made toward gender diversity, and how much further there is still to go.

Quick Facts on Women in Engineering

Here are some key facts on the percentage of female engineers today:

  • As of 2021, women make up just 13% of all engineers in the United States.
  • The percentage of female engineers has slowly increased over the past few decades, up from just 1% in the 1960s.
  • However, the growth rate of women entering engineering has slowed in recent years, plateauing around 13-15% over the past 10 years.
  • Engineering disciplines vary significantly in gender diversity. Biomedical engineering has the highest percentage of women at 28%, while electrical engineering has the lowest at 8%.
  • Women earn just 20% of engineering bachelor’s degrees. At the graduate level, women earn 23% of master’s degrees and 22% of PhDs.
  • The percentage of female engineers is higher among younger cohorts. About 20% of engineering graduates today are women, versus 13% for the whole workforce.

While women remain underrepresented in most engineering occupations, the percentage of female engineers today is significantly higher than in the past. Ongoing efforts to promote gender diversity have had a measurable impact, but there is still a long way to go to achieve parity.

Percentage of Female Engineers by Discipline

There is significant variation in gender diversity across different engineering disciplines. Here is a breakdown of the percentage of female engineers in some of the major branches of engineering:

Engineering Discipline Percentage Female
Biomedical Engineering 28%
Environmental Engineering 25%
Industrial Engineering 20%
Chemical Engineering 20%
Civil Engineering 14%
Mechanical Engineering 10%
Computer Engineering 10%
Electrical Engineering 8%

Biomedical engineering stands out with the highest percentage of women by a significant margin. This may be due to it being a newer, more interdisciplinary field. It also has direct applications in healthcare, which tends to attract more women. On the other end of the spectrum, more traditional fields like electrical and mechanical engineering remain heavily male-dominated.

Percentage of Female Engineers by Country

The percentage of engineers who are women also varies significantly between different countries. Here are statistics on the percentage of female engineers in select nations:

Country Percentage Female Engineers
Latvia 29%
Bulgaria 28%
Cyprus 26%
Sweden 25%
Slovenia 25%
Italy 22%
United States 13%
Japan 9%
South Korea 4%

Many Eastern European countries top the list for percentage of female engineers, with Latvia currently having the highest in the world at 29%. The lowest percentages are found in Asian countries like South Korea and Japan. The United States falls somewhere in the middle at 13%, similar to the global average.

Percentage of Female Engineering Graduates

Looking specifically at graduates in engineering provides a sense for how gender diversity is progressing. Here are statistics on the percentage of engineering graduates who are women:

  • In the United States, women earn 21% of engineering bachelor’s degrees.
  • At the master’s level, women earn 23% of degrees in engineering.
  • For engineering PhDs, 22% are conferred to women.
  • The percentage of female engineering graduates has slowly risen over the past few decades. In the 1980s, women earned just 10% of engineering bachelor’s degrees.
  • However, growth has stagnated in recent years. The percentage of female engineering graduates has hovered between 20-22% over the past 10 years.

These statistics reveal that while more women are entering engineering than ever before, progress has been incremental at best. The percentage of female graduates still pales in comparison to the near 50/50 gender ratio in the general population.

Why Does Low Female Representation Matter?

The lack of gender diversity in engineering brings up important questions about equality and inclusion. Here are some of the reasons why low female representation in the field matters:

  • Equity – Engineering provides stable, lucrative careers. Exclusion of women from the field restricts their economic opportunities.
  • Diversity of perspectives – Homogeneous teams can lead to blind spots, biases and groupthink. Including women brings new perspectives.
  • Innovation – Research shows diversity fosters greater innovation, creativity and problem-solving.
  • Product design – Engineering touches all parts of life. Diverse teams are needed to identify needs and create solutions for all users.
  • Inspiration for future generations – Visibility of female role models helps attract more girls and women to engineering.
  • National competitiveness – Countries with the most gender diverse talent pools have an economic advantage.

In short, boosting women’s participation in engineering creates a stronger, smarter and more creative engineering workforce. It also provides fairer economic opportunities for women to leverage their talents and skills.

Efforts to Increase Female Representation

Many initiatives aim to boost the ranks of women in engineering. Here are some of the major efforts underway:

  • K-12 outreach programs – Exposing girls to engineering concepts early through school programs and camps.
  • University recruitment and retention – Admissions outreach to female students, women in engineering groups, mentoring programs.
  • Industry hiring and promotion – Actively recruiting women, ensuring gender diverse candidate pools and slates for promotions.
  • Highlighting role models – Conferences, awards and media coverage of successful female engineers.
  • Policy advocacy – Groups lobby for funding of diversity programs, equal pay laws, paid family leave and affordable childcare.
  • Inclusion initiatives – Workplace training on unconscious bias, implementing family-friendly policies, zero tolerance for harassment.

From classroom education to workplace initiatives, a multipronged effort is required to recruit, retain and advance more female engineers. Companies like IBM, GE, Lockheed Martin, BHP and Shell have dedicated major resources toward these goals in recent years.

Key Barriers Facing Women in Engineering

Despite dedicated efforts, female engineers still face obstacles that contribute to low representation. The key barriers include:

  • Gender stereotypes – Notions like “women are bad at math/science” dissuade girls from engineering interests early on.
  • Lack of early exposure – Many girls don’t get opportunities to build with toys or tinker with tech, sparking initial engineering interest.
  • Biased school environments – Some teachers and counselors actively discourage girls from taking advanced STEM courses.
  • Workplace discrimination – Bias in hiring, promotions and everyday interactions continues to be an issue.
  • Inflexible work policies – Lack of parental leave and childcare support disproportionately causes women to leave engineering careers.
  • Isolation – Being the only woman on teams can lead to exclusion, microaggressions and burnout.
  • Lack of role models and mentors – Having few senior women engineers limits visibility of what is possible.

Both deep-rooted societal issues and ongoing workplace problems contribute to the lagging participation of women in engineering. Tackling these barriers will be key for boosting the percentage of female engineers toward parity in the decades ahead.

Projections for the Future

Will the percentage of engineers who are women substantially rise in the future? Here are some projections:

  • Most experts believe the 13% figure for female engineers will slowly rise in the coming decades.
  • However, if growth rates continue at the current pace, some projections still put female representation at just 18-20% by 2050.
  • About 40% of female engineering students do not go on to become professional engineers, limiting the talent pipeline.
  • Advocates argue concerted efforts, including on issues like parental leave, pay equity and unconscious bias training, could accelerate progress.
  • Role models and support groups also help retain female graduates. Initiatives like sponsorship programs aim to boost women into leadership roles.
  • Overall, achieving gender parity in engineering may realistically require another 50+ years even with strong efforts.

Increasing the percentage of women will likely be a slow, incremental process requiring patience and persistence. However, with both individual and institutional commitment, the engineering industry can get much closer to gender balance over the coming decades.


While more women are entering engineering than ever before, the field remains heavily male-dominated. Just 13% of engineers today are women, with even fewer in disciplines like electrical and computer engineering. Organizations are working to improve gender diversity through a variety of inclusion initiatives. However, deeply entrenched barriers continue to restrict the talent pipeline. Achieving equal gender representation will realistically take dedicated, long-term effort across all parts of the engineering education and workforce system. Moving forward, tracking and transparently reporting on these metrics will be crucial for monitoring progress and being accountable to gender diversity goals.