In the 1950s, when Motion System Design made its debut as Power Transmission Design, most women filled their working hours as homemakers, teachers, nurses, secretaries, or switchboard operators. Fast-forward 50 years: While engineering and science are still male-dominated professions, women continue to make strides and a growing number of programs are helping to encourage them.

Nurturing nerd girls

As director of the Simulation Research Laboratory at Tufts University, Dr. Karen Panetta is one of the most highly acclaimed women in engineering. She is also the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) committee chair, and serves as the director for the world's largest professional women's engineering and science organization. Dr. Panetta has created the nationally acclaimed “Nerd Girls” program where undergraduate engineers research renewable energy topics and serve as role models for younger students. The program is aimed at breaking down the barriers that prevent women from entering the engineering disciplines.

According to the National Engineers Week Foundation, many girls — representing half the future work force — are not receiving the guidance and encouragement they need to enter the engineering arena. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, to be held Feb. 19, is designed to mobilize as many as 10,000 engineering and technical professional women, who, along with their male colleagues, will reach at least one million girls. For more information, visit www.eweek.org.