Innovation is defined as the act of introducing new acts or methods to lead to better solutions and/or products. Indeed, innovation sits at the heart of the engineering profession. As engineering and technology continue to be ever more important to our lives, we need to ensure more of our students, especially our academically prepared young women, pursue careers in engineering. Not only will this support greater diversity and innovation, it will help maintain the country’s economic competitiveness.
Diversity of Innovators
Diversity is an important component of technological innovation. However, we have a challenge. The percentage of women earning degrees in engineering has remained relatively flat for the past two decades, despite the surge in women attaining college degrees.
Government statistics report that women now comprise half of the U.S. workforce, but women currently hold only 14 percent of engineering positions in the United States. Research conducted by Change the Equation also points to a deeper diversity challenge: African-American, Hispanic and Native American students also earn disproportionately fewer degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. African-Americans and Hispanics comprise 33.3 percent of the college-aged population, but earn only 12.5 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 7.2 percent of master’s degrees and just 4 percent of doctoral degrees in engineering.
Encouraging Young Engineers
At ExxonMobil we have been a long-time champion of the engineering profession and efforts aimed at increasing diversity in the field. Long-standing partnerships with organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and others, are at the core of our strategy to ensure the best and brightest find a pathway to successful and rewarding engineering careers.
Most recently we launched “Be An Engineer,” a multi-faceted initiative aimed at inspiring America’s young people to consider careers in engineering. Along with advertisements, social media and a variety of other outreach efforts, the “Be An Engineer” website (www.BeAnEngineer.com) is filled with inspiring stories of all kinds of engineers, both men and women, from various backgrounds and a wide range of engineering disciplines.
Strength in Diversity
Diversity of opinions, experiences, perspectives and solutions is at the heart of what makes engineering such an important human endeavor. When more talented young Americans get the support they need, there’s no limit to how far they will go.
Let’s help inspire more Americans to Be An Engineer and help drive our economic growth through innovation.