Women in Engineering

Overcoming Stereotypes: Women Thriving in Non-Traditional Engineering Disciplines

todayAugust 22, 2023


Engineering has long been considered a male-dominated field, with women facing numerous barriers to entry and advancement. However, in recent years, women have been breaking down gender stereotypes and excelling in non-traditional engineering disciplines.

More and more women are pursuing careers in alternative engineering fields, such as renewable energy, biomedical engineering, and aerospace engineering, and making significant contributions to these industries. Emerging engineering areas, including nanotechnology, environmental engineering, and robotics, have also seen a rise in women engineers leading the way. Niche engineering disciplines, such as marine engineering, space exploration, and renewable materials engineering, are also becoming increasingly popular among women.

These women are not only challenging the status quo but are also shaping the future of engineering. By breaking down gender barriers and encouraging diversity in the field, they are opening up opportunities for future generations of female engineers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Women are thriving in non-traditional engineering disciplines, challenging gender stereotypes in the industry.
  • Alternative engineering fields, emerging engineering areas, niche engineering disciplines, and new branches of engineering have all seen significant contributions from women in recent years.
  • By encouraging diversity in the field, women are shaping the future of engineering and opening up opportunities for future generations of female engineers.

Challenging the Status Quo: Women Making Strides in Alternative Engineering Fields

Women engineers are breaking barriers and excelling in non-conventional engineering disciplines. Many areas in engineering have been traditionally male-dominated, but women are making significant contributions to alternative fields. From renewable energy to aerospace engineering, non-traditional disciplines are benefitting from the unique perspectives and skills of female engineers.

Nanotechnology: The Future of Technology

Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates engineering, physics, chemistry, and biology. This emerging field is focused on manipulating and engineering matter at the atomic and molecular level. Women engineers are leading the way in this innovative discipline, which has broad applications in fields such as medicine, electronics, and energy systems. One notable female engineer in the nanotechnology industry is Sumita Pennathur, who is developing low-cost, portable diagnostic tools for medical testing.

Environmental Engineering: Creating Sustainable Solutions

Environmental engineering is another area where women engineers are making their mark. This specialty is focused on finding sustainable solutions to environmental challenges, such as air and water pollution, waste management, and renewable energy sources. Women engineers in this field are creating new technologies and strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change and promote a more sustainable future. An example is Tami Bond, who has been recognised for her work on black carbon emissions and their effects on air quality and climate.

alternative engineering fields

Robotics: Enhancing Automation

The field of robotics is rapidly expanding and becoming more complex, and women engineers are at the forefront of this growth. Robotics engineers design and develop automated systems that can perform tasks in a range of settings. This discipline has numerous applications, including manufacturing, healthcare, and space exploration. One notable robotics engineer is Ayanna Howard, who is developing robotic assistants for children with special needs.

Biomedical Engineering: Improving Healthcare

Biomedical engineering is a multidisciplinary field that combines engineering and medical principles to improve healthcare. From prosthetics to medical imaging equipment, biomedical engineers develop technologies that can save lives and improve the quality of life for patients. Women engineers are contributing to this field in many ways, such as developing medical devices that can diagnose diseases more accurately and improving the design of artificial organs. One notable biomedical engineer is Nina Tandon, who is researching how to engineer human tissue and organs for transplantation.

Women engineers are making significant strides in non-traditional engineering disciplines, challenging the status quo and driving innovation. As more women enter these fields, they bring unique perspectives and skills that can lead to greater success and progress. It is important to continue breaking down stereotypes and promoting diversity in the engineering industry, so that all individuals have the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career in this field.

Emerging Engineering Areas: Women’s Impact in Unconventional Engineering Specialties

As the world of engineering continues to evolve, new areas of focus are emerging, providing opportunities for innovation and growth. Women are making significant contributions in these unconventional engineering specialties, breaking down barriers and bringing fresh perspectives to the field.


One such area is nanotechnology, where engineers work on a microscopic scale to create new materials and products. Women are thriving in this field, with notable figures such as Professor Michelle Simmons, who heads Australia’s Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology.

Women in nanotechnology Notable achievements
Professor Michelle Simmons Recipient of the Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2018
Dr. Dawn Bonnell Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center at the University of Pennsylvania

Environmental Engineering

Another area where women are making a significant impact is environmental engineering, working to create sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. Women such as Dr. Maria Yazdanbakhsh, who founded Bluon Energy, are paving the way for a greener future.


Robotics is also an emerging field where women are making their presence felt through their contributions. For example, Dr. Ayanna Howard, an expert in robotics and artificial intelligence, founded a company called Zyrobotics that creates inclusive technology for children with disabilities.

emerging engineering areas

As these examples show, women are playing a crucial role in shaping the future of engineering, and their contributions will only continue to expand as new areas of specialisation emerge.

Expanding Horizons: Women Pioneering in New Branches of Engineering

While it’s important to recognise the contributions of women in non-traditional engineering disciplines, it’s equally crucial to shine a spotlight on the innovative engineering sectors that are emerging today. And it’s no surprise that women are making waves in these new branches of engineering by breaking down barriers and paving the way for a more diverse industry.

Sustainable infrastructure engineering is gaining traction as the demand for eco-friendly solutions to global problems grows. Women are at the forefront of designing and implementing sustainable infrastructure, using advanced technologies to create systems that reduce environmental impact. Their contributions are vital to building a more sustainable future for us all.

Virtual reality (VR) engineering is another exciting field that is seeing increased female participation. Women are leading the way in developing cutting-edge VR technology that has various applications in diverse industries, from gaming to healthcare and education. The immersive and interactive nature of VR brings new opportunities for innovation, and women are already making significant strides in this field.

Artificial intelligence (AI) engineering is also becoming more woman-friendly. The field, which has often been male-dominated, is seeing an increase in the number of women engineers becoming involved. Women are applying their unique perspectives and insights to the development of AI that has the potential to revolutionise various fields, such as healthcare, finance and transportation.

As we explore new frontiers in engineering, we’re also beginning to recognise the contributions of women who are making waves in unconventional areas. Take, for instance, biological engineering, which has an increasing number of women engineers developing new materials and technologies for medical applications. Or, space architecture, another, expanding field that is seeing women involved in designing habitats and structures for human exploration, and lunar settlements. Women are proving that they are adept at pushing boundaries, thinking outside the box, and that they can make outstanding contributions in any branch of engineering.

Expanding Horizons: Women Pioneering in New Branches of Engineering

Innovative and inspiring, women are forging ahead in new branches of engineering from sustainable infrastructure to space architecture, AI and virtual reality engineering. Their contributions are making an impact and shaping the future of engineering.

Niche Engineering Disciplines: Women Breaking Ground in Non-Mainstream Fields

Women are also making their mark in niche engineering disciplines, breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes in non-mainstream engineering fields. These disciplines require a unique set of skills, knowledge, and expertise, and it is impressive to see women excelling in these areas.

Marine Engineering

Marine engineering is a highly specialized field that involves designing and building ships, boats, and offshore structures. Women, such as Danielle Doggett, are increasingly entering this field. Doggett graduated with a degree in naval architecture and marine engineering and now works as a marine project manager in the UK. She aims to inspire more young women to consider marine engineering as a career by sharing her experiences and insights.

marine engineering

Space Exploration

Space exploration is another niche engineering field where women are making their mark. A great example is Jennifer Harris, who currently works as a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She has contributed to several high-profile projects, including the Mars 2020 mission. Harris believes that diversity is essential for success in the field of engineering and encourages young women to pursue their dreams.

Renewable Materials Engineering

Renewable materials engineering is an emerging field that involves designing sustainable materials and products. Women are playing a crucial role in this field, including Dr. Sarah Higginson, who works as a research associate in the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Group at Imperial College London. She is passionate about using engineering to tackle global challenges and create a more sustainable future.

Celebrating Success: Women Shaping the Future of Engineering

Women have overcome countless barriers and stereotypes to excel in non-traditional engineering disciplines, and their contributions are shaping the future of the industry. From alternative engineering fields like renewable energy, biomedical engineering, and aerospace engineering, to emerging areas like nanotechnology, environmental engineering, and robotics, women are making their mark. They are also leading the way in new branches of engineering like sustainable infrastructure, virtual reality engineering, and artificial intelligence, as well as excelling in niche engineering disciplines such as marine engineering, space exploration, and renewable materials engineering.

It is crucial to celebrate and recognise the success of women in engineering, as it highlights the importance of diversity in the industry. By breaking gender stereotypes and expanding the horizons of what is possible, these women inspire and motivate future generations of engineers, regardless of gender. Their contributions not only advance the field of engineering but also have a positive impact on society as a whole.

Despite the progress made in recent years, there is still much work to be done to ensure greater gender diversity in engineering. Efforts are ongoing to inspire and support more women to pursue careers in the industry, through initiatives such as mentorship programs, scholarships, and networking events. By continuing to break down barriers and champion diversity, we can create a brighter, more innovative future for engineering.


Q: What are non-traditional engineering disciplines?

A: Non-traditional engineering disciplines refer to fields of engineering that are typically dominated by men, such as aerospace engineering, renewable energy, biomedical engineering, and more.

Q: Why is it important to break gender stereotypes in the engineering industry?

A: Breaking gender stereotypes in the engineering industry is crucial because it encourages diversity, promotes innovation, and ensures equal opportunities for all individuals regardless of their gender.

Q: Which emerging engineering areas are women making an impact in?

A: Women are making their mark in emerging engineering areas such as nanotechnology, environmental engineering, robotics, and more.

Q: What are some new branches of engineering where women are leading the way?

A: Women are pioneering in new branches of engineering such as sustainable infrastructure, virtual reality engineering, artificial intelligence, and other innovative sectors.

Q: In which niche engineering disciplines are women breaking ground?

A: Women are excelling in niche engineering disciplines such as marine engineering, space exploration, renewable materials engineering, and more.

Written by: Jackie De Burca

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