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Engineering our Future

So You Want to Be an Engineer

maryam alizadeh onwiea
maryam alizadeh onwiea

Are you engineer-curious? Is your daughter? It’s a rewarding career option that involves teamwork, creativity and problem-solving. It gives you the tools to improve sustainability and to design the world inclusively for our communities and families. Engineers translate scientific discoveries into useable, accessible products – like vaccines. But what does that really mean?

Engineering is for Everyone

Representation matters: no one wants to be “the only” in a room and engineering hasn’t had the best reputation, but it’s getting so much better. In disciplines like Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, gender parity in university programs is common. The percent of women taking Software Engineering degrees over the past five years has doubled as women recognize the ways that coding permeates our lives. Several Engineering Faculties now exceed 30% women, which Engineers Canada has identified as the ratio at which women’s voices and contributions are normalized and appreciated fully. Engineers Canada compiles and shares the data here

But who are the women who choose engineering careers? They reflect the diversity of our population and each woman has an interesting story to tell. Take Raufikat Oyawoye-Salami, an immigrant and electrical and computer engineer who won the Great Canadian Baking Show. The Ontario Network of Women in Engineering features stories of engineering student life on Instagram and of professionals on our website. Many organizations share inspiring role models for young women including See It Be It STEM It.

What do engineers do?

One of the appealing things about an engineering career is its incredible potential. The training in problem-solving and design opens doors in every field. Individual disciplines (e.g. Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Chemical and Software, among others) offer a range of opportunities. You can explore here.

Engineers also make good money. These careers offer some of the smallest gender wage gaps in Canada; in some cases, women make slightly more. The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and Labour Board of Canada both share salary surveys.

How to get started

There are ample opportunities to try engineering and see if it’s for you. The Ontario Network for Women in Engineering offers free hands-on workshops in person and virtually across Canada. Universities near you will offer even more. For example, McMaster Engineering offers all-girl after-school programs, summer camps and more through Venture Academy. If you want to try engineering projects on your own, there are fantastic resources, compiled here.

You’re convinced! So what’s the next step? Most universities require English, Calculus, Chemistry and Physics. What about grades? Many institutions now include a supplementary application that allows students to share the breadth of their experiences. This site shows the entrance averages for Ontario universities and you’ll see that the range is considerable, so don’t count yourself out.

So, you want to be an engineer. Congratulations! Exploring further will open the door to a varied and rewarding career with caring and inclusive coworkers. Learn more at onwie.ca/.

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