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Women in Engineering

Selu Gupta is a Hardware Engineering Manager and a Continuous Engineering Support (CES) Strategist at Tektronix. She has 22 years of hands-on experience and is responsible for creating the framework and processes that allow engineers at Tektronix to conceive of and build test and measurement equipment.  She started a “Women in Technology” (WIT) group at Tektronix in 2016 to foster an inclusive environment for women. The Group has now 300 members and has become an influential part of the overall Tektronix culture. While fostering networking, community and collaboration, the group has led to an increase in the number of women in engineering and leadership positions at Tektronix. The company has a female Ceo and a gender-balanced executive team.

 

How many women work in Tektronix and how many of them are engineers?

  • In 2019, women outpaced men in earning bachelor’s degrees in the United States at 57.5%. Women have actually accounted for the majority of bachelor’s degrees since the early 1980s. College rates are also increasing among black Americans, especially women, though racial gaps are still significant. This steady rise is positive to see, but when looking at the more homogenized field of engineering, an industry so core to the tech economy, there’s a disappointing lack of progress.

Only 13% of professional engineers are women. 

When I began my career at global test and measurement company Tektronix in 1999, I was the only woman on my engineering team; there weren’t many people of color working in engineering, either. Now, more than 20 years later, I’m often still the only woman on the teams I lead. 

As times have changed, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging is very important to Tektronix and Fortive. It plays a part in creating an inclusive, encouraging environment for everyone across the organization, encouraging us to be our authentic selves – in our communities, our teams, and our organizations.

By applying these principles, this will help us create teams and companies that everyone wants to be part of, have more breakthrough innovation and become better problem solvers.

Beyond that, Tektronix does not share the specific number of women within the organization.

“Anyone, regardless their gender or race, can become an engineer”. It should be an obvious concept, but it isn’t yet. Why? And what is Tektronix doing to change things?

  • Since college, I’ve been hoping to see a change in the number of women working in engineering. What I’ve seen has been slow. While I’m proud of the innovations to which I’ve contributed thus far into my career—such as pioneering new high-end waveform generators—I look forward to continuing to innovate as part of more diverse teams in the future. 

Diverse teams succeed. Building more of them in the future depends on a holistic approach, from access to STEM education at a younger age, to advocacy in college programs and purposeful recruitment and retention at the professional level. As engineers, we solve problems. And prioritizing this one will lead to positive real-world impacts.    

Entire organizations now exist to promote girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. (Fig. 1)

Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest tours the Tektronix campus in Beaverton Oregon with engineers from Tektronix 

Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest tours the Tektronix campus in Beaverton, Ore. with members of Tektronix’s Women in Technology group.

Unless students are attending specialized or private schools, or grow up in households with caretakers who pursued higher education, there are barriers to entry. Many students don’t even have a baseline exposure to engineering. 

Which was your purpose when you decided to create the WIT Group? How is it financed?

  • As a woman in engineering, I’ve often felt isolated. Of women who have left the engineering profession, 30%cite organizational climate as the reason. That’s why a sense of community is critical. I started a “Women in Technology” (WIT) group at my company in 2016 to foster an inclusive environment for women. What began as me and a colleague talking over lunch has grown to 300 members that now welcome high-level guest speakers, and it’s become an influential part of the overall Tektronix culture (Fig. 2)

Tektronix Women in Technology group members at WE19 

Tektronix Women in Technology group members at WE19—the world’s largest conference for women engineers. WE-21 is set this year from Oct. 21-23 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. For more information on the internet, go to https://we21.swe.org.

While fostering networking, community, and collaboration, the group has led to an increase in the number of women in engineering and leadership positions at Tektronix. We have a female CEO and a gender-balanced executive team. 

Which kind of initiatives does the Group organize? Does it work globally or just in US?

  • The Tektronix WIT organization has groups in various regions including across Europe.

Does the WIT Group work together with public institutions and organizations (public schools, universities, business associations, government institutions etc.)?

  • Yes. Prior to the pandemic, we regularly hosted STEM/STEAM programs on campus. In particular, we hosted a group of Girls, Inc. students for a day of speakers and experience on the WHQ campus in Beaverton, Oregon (see above)

Do you think US is one step ahead of Europe as far as regards gender equality in electronic industry?

  • We do not make a comment on this from the Tektronix point of view.

From a business perspective, diversity equates to more opportunities for success: is there any evidence of that in your company?  

  • Please see answers above.