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Society of Women Engineers

Was Your Father An Engineer?

As Father’s Day approaches, one of our working mom’s posed the question to our Working Moms Facebook group: “Was your father an engineer?”

Published On: June 2017

As Father’s Day approaches, one of our working mom’s posed the question to our Working Moms Facebook group: “Was your father an engineer?”

The responses were varied, quick, plentiful, and very often heartwarming. Which begs the question, “Does having a parent as an engineer influence whether a woman becomes one herself?” In this (completely unscientific) study, the answer appears to be No. Based on the compilation of results from this post, only 42% of the members that responded to the question that was posed in the Facebook group had a father who was an engineer … the other 58% of the responses were no.

Some respondents received pushback from one or more parent about pursuing engineering while others had full support. Many also included details as to why they chose a particular discipline or information about other family members who were engineers and may have had an influence on their decisions.

So as we celebrate fathers on the third Sunday in June, we also salute all those fathers, father figures, and other adult influencers who have supported the women in their lives to pursue engineering careers!

Here are a few of our favorite responses from the group:

Those that responded “Yes” their father was an engineer —

  • “Yes. That is probably the main reason I became interested in STEM. Nobody else we knew was an engineer. In the 80s nobody really knew what an engineer was.
  • “Yes. He wanted to be a geologist but his uncle was an engineer, so his mom decided he also needed to be an engineer.”
  • “Yes. He’s an electrical engineer and spent his career working for an oil company. I am the first of three mechanical engineer kids (plus our black sheep sister who’s a CPA!).”
  • “Yep, electrical. But he switched to software engineering. My husband and brother are also software engineers. My 2 brother in laws and their girlfriends are also engineers.”
  • “Yes. He was a computer software engineer (now retired). He wanted to be a civil engineer, but the college he went to only had an Engineering Physics degree, so he ended up doing that instead. I was a Civil Engineering major, but had zero intentions of being an engineer until I hit college. I’ve always found it ironic that my dad wanted to be a CE but didn’t, and I never had any intentions of doing so, and did.”

Those that responded “No” their father was not an engineer —

  • “No but his father and grandfather were. He was a Lt. Col. in the army and worked in logistics. And very mechanically inclined. And my mom is a high school math teacher.”
  • “Nope. No STEM in my family. Mom was a teacher; dad was in retail management. Both said “huh?” when I said I wanted to be an engineer in 7th grade, but they fully supported me!”
  • “No. My dad was an electrician. When the company he worked for went out of business, he ended up teaching at the tech college. He taught electrical motor construction and basic electricity. I’m a civil engineer in the power industry, so he has helped me with a lot of the electrical concepts.”
  • “Nope. My sister and I were more a product of our community. Never any ‘girls can’t do STEM’ attitudes. Grew up in Boulder, CO. Lots of research and STEM. Summer job working in a lab at the university. I ended up engineering, she ended up in medicine.”
  • “No, my dad was in sales. BUT he was always supportive of my interests in math and science and never questioned or cautioned my desire to go into a male-dominated field. I did not realize until well into my career how many others ran into resistance from their parents or teachers about their chosen field. Support for engineering from my non-engineer parents got me where I am today!”
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