The world has come a long way since 1876, when Elizabeth Bragg became the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have long been male-dominated. However, as society progresses, so does the level of inclusion in these areas. In fact, statistics paint a hopeful picture of how these industries have already evolved — and where they’re expected to go. In 2007, only 3.7 percent of women intended to major in STEM. A decade later, that number nearly tripled to 9.5 percent. In the U.K., over 80 percent of women in engineering claim to be happy with their career choice, and 98 percent find their jobs rewarding — but still, only 13 percent of engineers are women.
One of them is Rachel Flores, a lead manufacturing process engineer. Read on for her insight on what it’s like to work in engineering:
Master Fluid Solutions (MFS): What is your job like on a day-to-day basis?
Rachel Flores (RF): It actually changes all the time, which is what I love about it. As a manufacturing process engineer, my work is all about problem-solving. For example, finding new ways to transport fluids from one tank to another, specking out different pumps and valves, or fixing safety issues. When I’m not solving problems, my work is about refining processes, such as finding ways to make our chemical manufacturing more efficient or cost-effective.
MFS: How did you get into engineering?
RF: When I originally went to school, I got a degree in bio because I planned on going into medicine. But by the end of it, I realized it wasn’t the right path for me. I always loved math and science growing up, and engineering gave me a way to reconnect with that. Strangely, engineering is something that I fell into, but ended up loving. And I’ve even been able to bounce around between different types of engineering, from chemical to manufacturing.
MFS: The statistics are quite stark when it comes to the representation of women in engineering. What has your experience been like?
RF: In school, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a pretty even mix of men and women, especially in the chemical engineering program. After graduating, a lot of places I’ve worked have been pretty equal as well, which I know is unusual. Here at Master Fluid Solutions, I’m the only engineer on staff. But because I work at the headquarters, there is a pretty equal mix of men and women working in the office. I’ve been very lucky.
MFS: Do you have any ideas for how more women could be brought into engineering and STEM?
RF: I really think that high school robotics teams and science clubs are such a great pathway into the field — especially when they really focus on educating girls. Programs for women in coding provide so many opportunities as well. There really is a lot of crossover between all these types of practices and skill-sets. Engineering covers so many different concepts that it can be hard to describe exactly what it is.
Before I even became a bio major, I remember going to a seminar about engineering as a career, but they covered so much that I walked away, not totally grasping what it is, which is funny, because it was put on by an engineering school. I suppose all the potential and opportunity is what makes the work so exciting and interesting for me.
As an innovator in chemical manufacturing for metalworking, MFS is dedicated to progress in our industry. We employ women across many sectors of our company and are dedicated to nurturing and elevating their talent into leadership positions. This is how we inspire the next generation of engineers.
Want to learn more about women in STEM like Rachel? Check out the Society of Women Engineers.
For more information about our company and products, call +1 800-537-3365 or email us at [email protected].