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10 inspiring women engineers, scientists

11 Mar 2014  | Suzanne Deffree

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There is a notable disparity between the number of men and women in the field of engineering. In fact, according to the United States' National Science Foundation, fewer than 15 per cent of the world's engineers are women.

There's evidence that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) interest by women is starting to grow. For example, for the first time ever, the University of California, Berkeley reported this month that its intro to computer science classes attracted more women (106) than men (104), but even so, girls (and boys) could use more STEM inspiration by example.

International Women's Day falls on March 8. A large part of the day involves celebrating the success of women. In the following pages we celebrate 10 women whose work is inspirational or who take steps to inspire in engineering or related fields.

Odds are you haven't heard of many of the women we've included in this list. While their names aren't Grace Hopper or Lady Ada Lovelace, read through for a small sampling of this current generation of engineers, entrepreneurs, and encouragers, and see what they are doing to share knowledge and inspire more STEM in the world.

Limor "Ladyada" Fried


Limor "Ladyada" Fried, the superhero hardware hacker, started AdaFruit Industries in 2005. Since then, she's seen scores of accolades. In 2009, the engineer with an MIT MS in electrical engineering and computer science, was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for her participation in the open-source hardware and software community. Two years later, Fast Company named her one of the Most Influential Woman in technology. Also in 2011, Limor became the first female engineer to be featured on the cover of Wired magazine. And in 2013, she was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Like Ladyada, the New York-headquarter company she founded is a proven success. It pulled in $4.5 million in 2011 revenue, employs more than 50 people, and recently moved into a new 12,000-sq-foot space from which it ships hundreds of packages a day. Yet, the company is still in its infancy. Bubbling with potential, it's surely one to watch for future growth.

So you'd think someone with this much success would be ready to take a break, right? Nope. She also regularly offers up her time and knowledge through Adafruit's Ask an Engineer live video and interactive chat. And just this last Tuesday, Limor participated in the #NPRWIT digital conversation where select game-changing tech leaders shared a day in their professional lives via tweets.

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