Women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. For example, only one in seven engineering professionals is female, according to a 2011 US Department of Commerce study. Women may earn more than half of the bachelor’s degrees in the US, but they only represent 37 percent of STEM graduates. Among computer science bachelor’s degree recipients, fewer than 20 percent are female.
One way to close this gender gap is to provide female role models to girls interested in STEM careers. Such role models are important; girls and young women who are interested in STEM careers may become discouraged when they look to the professionals in these fields and only see a few women, or none at all—this lack of visible representation may cause them to internalize the message that STEM isn’t “for” women.
In engineering, female members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) can serve as role models. More than 2,000 engineers have been elected to the NAE, which provides engineering and technology advice to the US government. The members elected in 2018 include the following inspiring women, who represent a variety of engineering disciplines.
Mary T. Barra
Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors, was elected to the Mechanical section for her leadership in automotive manufacturing, product engineering, and product development.
Angela M. Belcher
Angela Belcher, the James Mason Crafts Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, was elected to the Materials and Bioengineering sections for her development of new genetic evolution methods for generating new materials and devices.
Aine M. Brazil
Aine Brazil, vice chairman of Thornton Tomasetti, Inc., was elected to the Civil section for her leadership in the design of innovative buildings and for contributions to engineering literacy.
Constance Chang-Hasnain, the John R. Whinnery Distinguished Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, was elected to the Electronics, Communication & Information Systems, and the Materials sections for her contributions to wavelength and tunable diode lasers and multi-wavelength laser arrays.
Hongming Chen, the chief scientific officer of Kala Pharmaceuticals, Inc., was elected to the Bioengineering and the Chemical sections for her contributions to the research, development, and translation of drug delivery technologies.
Jacqueline H. Chen
Jacqueline Chen, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, was elected to the Mechanical section for her contributions to the computational simulation of turbulent reacting flows with complex chemistry.
Margaret Sze-Tai Y. Chu
Margaret Chu, president of M. S. Chu and Associates LLC, was elected to the Electric Power/Energy Systems and the Special Fields & Interdisciplinary sections for her contributions and leadership in the US program for permanent disposal of radioactive waste in deep underground repositories.
Carolina Cruz-Neira, director of the George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was elected to the Computer Science & Engineering and the Special Fields & Interdisciplinary sections for her contributions to immersive visualization.
Jennifer Hartt Elisseeff
Jennifer Elisseeff, the Mort Goldberg Professor in the Translational Tissue Engineering Center at Johns Hopkins University, was elected to the Bioengineering and the Materials sections for her development and commercial translation of injectable biomaterials for regenerative therapies.
Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, a distinguished professor at UC Irvine, was elected to the Special Fields & Interdisciplinary section for her contributions to hydrology and hydroclimatology with applications to engineered systems across scales.
Diane B. Greene
Diane Greene, CEO of Google Cloud and a member of the board of directors of Alphabet Inc., was elected to the Computer Science & Engineering section for her work in transforming the concept of virtualization into an industry.
Ann R. Karagozian
Ann Karagozian, a distinguished professor at UCLA, was elected to the Aerospace and the Mechanical sections for her work regarding combustion and propulsion, education of the next generation of aerospace engineers, and general service to the country.
Judith S. Olson
Judith Olson, the Donald Bren Professor of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine, was elected to the Computer Science & Engineering section for her leadership, technical innovations, and development of collaborative systems that support work at a distance.
Barbara Estelle Rusinko
Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel Nuclear, Security and Environmental, Inc., was elected to the Industrial, Manufacturing & Operational Systems section for her engineering leadership in the construction of complex megascale projects.
Yang Shao-Horn, the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT, was elected to the Mechanical and Materials sections for her contributions to design principles for catalytic activity for oxygen electrocatalysis for electrochemical energy storage for clean energy.
Susan M. Smyth
Susan Smyth, retired chief scientist at General Motors (GM) Global Manufacturing and director of manufacturing systems research at the GM Manufacturing Systems Research Lab, was elected to the Industrial, Manufacturing & Operational Systems section for her leadership in the development of manufacturing technologies for lightweight and electric vehicles.
Lisa T. Su
Lisa Su, president and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, was elected to the Electronics, Communication & Information Systems section for her contributions to silicon-on-insulator technology and industry leadership.
Susan Hajaran Tousi
Susan Tousi, senior vice president for product development at Illumina, Inc., was elected to the Bioengineering and the Computer Science & Engineering sections for her leadership in increasing throughput and reducing the costs in genome sequencing, which has enabled the path to the $100 human genome.