INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY These four women have revolutionized electrical and electronics engineering
Did you know Electrical Engineering ranked seventh among the top engineering degrees awarded to women all over the world in 2020? Let it be the first electrical engineer Edith Clarke or the head of the Women’s Engineering Society Dame Caroline Harriet Haslett - women have contributed to the Electrical and Electronics Engineering domains.
In the twentieth century, the Electrical and Electronics industry witnessed massive developments as the size of hardware became smaller and smaller. The power systems spread majorly throughout the world in almost every household. Today, women contribute to electrical system research, development, hardware design, implementation, and many other subsystems in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Witnessing smart women working on electrical systems seems to be the new normal. However, Electrical and Electronics Engineering was once a male-dominated industry. Women solving complex mathematical calculations and handling circuitry were uncommon throughout history.
Throughout history, not every woman was fortunate enough to join a college and get an engineering degree. Many women have revolutionized Electrical and Electronics Engineering research systems, development, and distribution, without even holding an engineering or science degree. In the following, you will read about four women who have made a big difference in the history of Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
The first female Electrical Engineer
The emergence of women in Electrical and Electronics Engineering began with one woman who was particularly interested in AC Power Systems. Edith Clarke was the first woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a degree in electrical engineering in the early twentieth century. The intellectual lady is credited with inventing the Clarke Calculator while being the first on-site woman electrical engineer. Later, Edith Clarke went on to become America's first female electrical engineering professor.
Beauty with brains
Hedy Lamarr is regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the history of Cinema. But Hedy Lamarr proved that her intelligence was much more than her physical features. Despite holding no engineering or science degree, Hedy Lamarr was a self-taught genius in the field of Electronics and Communications. She went on to invent a remote control communication device for the US military system along with her pianist friend. During World War 2, the beautiful lady invented the frequency-hopping theory which powered the recent Bluetooth, CDMA, and WiFi systems.
Pioneer in semiconductors
Esther Marley Conwell was an important woman in electronics and modern computing. An American Physicist by profession, Esther Marley Conwell developed the Conwell-Weisskopf theory of extrinsic semiconductor devices to explain contradictory resistance to electron flow by impure ions. Later, Esther Marley Conwell worked as a researcher at Bell Laboratories and wrote many important books on semiconductor devices throughout her lifetime.
A powerful woman in engineering
Dame Caroline Harriet Haslett was one of the most influential engineers of all time. An electrical engineer by profession, Dame Caroline Harriet Haslett headed the Women’s Engineering Society, UK, and was the founder of its journal. The revolutionary lady inspired numerous engineers, and is known for her words to compare the freedom of women with the power of electricity flow!
Current status of women in Electrical and Electronics Engineering
As the years passed, more and more women started to join engineering in various streams like electrical, electronics, mechanical, marine, computer, IT, and many more. Today, many women work in the Electrical and Electronics Engineering industry across the globe in various job roles. By 2022, there are approximately 9,492+ women electrical engineers and 4049+ women electronics engineers in the US alone. The number of women in these fields keeps on increasing at a rate of 2-3 % each year.
Modern women inventors in Electrical Engineering
Kristina M. Johnson is an important figure in Electrical Engineering and a businesswoman who continues to make her mark in the industry. Holder of Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, Kristina M. Johnson is the woman behind the success of optoelectronics systems and 3D imaging.
Naomi J. Halas is an inventor of nanoparticles through tunable plasmonic resonances. Not only an Electrical Engineering professor by profession, but Naomi J. Halas also teaches computer engineering, biomedical engineering, physics, and chemistry at Rice University, Texas.
Susan Hackwood is an electrical engineering professor who collaborated with her husband, another professor Gerardo Beni to invent electrowetting theory in the 1980s. Besides holding a Ph.D. in Solid State Ionics, Susan Hackwood is the current director of the California Council on Science and Technology.
These are just a few examples of women who are making an important contribution to the field of electrical engineering, and it seems that in the long term, the list will grow longer and longer.
What is next?
Women can take up multiple roles in Electrical and Electronics Engineering like power engineers, power distribution engineers, control engineers, IC layout designers, hardware developers, network planners, technicians, semiconductor developers, and many more. The rapidly growing industry is set to witness a growth of 3 % on average in the upcoming years.