The History of women in industry can be traced back to Ancient Rome, where women were not able to vote or have their voices heard at political assemblies. They were prohibited from holding any position of political responsibility, and even in roles they could partake in with religious organisations, they were still largely governed by the males of the society. These gender roles and norms continued throughout the Middle Ages and Medieval Times. It wasn’t until around the “Age of Enlightenment” in 1650 that women could begin to move with the idea that perhaps they could be as successful, if not more than – their male counterparts.
Fast forward to 1820, and the increased roles of women in industry were under scrutiny, as males saw this and the rising prominence of machinery as a threat to their status, and reasoning behind their declining pay. Starting in Massachusetts, unionisation began and women found themselves rarely involved in male unionisation efforts until the formation of the LFLRA in 1844, who stood up for labour issues such as higher wages and more reasonable working days, fighting against new legislature in the States which forced women to tend machines at an accelerated rate, endangering their wellbeing.
It wasn’t until 1964 that women would see major progress, with the passing of the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, colour, religion, nationality and most importantly, gender. In the modern day, women are now making waves thanks to a number of groups and associations which help to promote and celebrate women across all industries. Here are three such groups, with International Women in Engineering Day coming up this friday, take this opportunity to read more into the story of women in industry, or learn where to go to make your own headway into the industry of your choice.
Womens Engineering Society
The Womens Engineering Society was formed way back on June the 23rd 1919, by a small committee crafted from the National Council of Women after the first world war. Women were welcomed into professions during the war, but afterwards they found themselves under pressure to “release” jobs for men returning from the frontlines.
These ladies resisted and formed WES, as a means to promote ladies in industry and to show other women that engineering roles can be just as rewarding for women as they are for men. In recent years, WES have created the International Women in Engineering Day, an event which runs annually on June 23rd.
Wise are an organisation which was formed in 1984, following a report on the future of the UK engineering industry. This report emphasised the need for a diverse, broad talent pool of scientists and engineers. In 1984, the Engineering Council worked together with the Equal Opportunities commission to form WISE (Women into Science and Engineering).
WISE enable and encourage people in industry, business and education to increase the contributions, participation and success of women in STEM.
The National Association of Women in Construction was created in 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. An expansion of the already established “Women in Construction in Fort Worth” group, NAWIC were an active community of women looking to build a platform for all ladies in industry to build their confidence and help them to achieve their full potential.
In the 60 plus years since their inception, they are now an internationally recognised association, with affiliates worldwide – Launching the UK NAWIC group in 2003.