Leadership Development Programs for Women in Engineering Industry

Catherine Mavriplis, Elizabeth Croft


Many engineering organizations are realizing the benefits of diversity for innovation in their product development and team dynamics. While women remain a minority in the classroom and the workplace when it comes to engineering, they have registered significant gains. Despite decades of increases in percentages of women at lower levels however, gender diversity at high levels remains woefully low. Without integrating diversity at all levels of an organization, the full benefits of diversity cannot be reached. Furthermore, highly trained and experienced workers become dissatisfied and/or eventually leave if they cannot see a path to career advancement.

Leadership development programs for women have recently sprung up in a number of engineering organizations to reap the full benefits of these companies’ investments in a diverse workforce. At Pratt & Whitney Canada, in 2007, a committee was struck to develop a Women’s Leadership Initiative that has been vibrant ever since, registering successes such as promotion of several women to Vice President status. In 2011, the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, BC and Yukon sponsored six introductory Leadership Development workshops developed by the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology hosted at engineering workplaces across British Columbia.

The presentation and paper will discuss the need for such programs, their essential ingredients and provide a preliminary assessment of their effectiveness.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24908/pceea.v0i0.4875