Highly Influential Women in Engineering Today
From pioneers in engineering sub-disciplines like computer science and electrical engineering to the newest generation of revolutionary thinkers in areas like nano-medicine and nuclear power, these 35 female engineers showcase the brilliant minds driving today’s leading edge innovations, developing tomorrow’s life-saving discoveries, and generally taking us to thrilling new heights of scientific understanding.
Women have made important gains in engineering professions over the last several decades. According to Census reporting, just 3% of engineering professionals were women in 1970. By 2019, that number had quintupled to 15%, a significant gain but one that suggests a field still dramatically tilted toward opportunities for men.
This makes the groundbreaking achievements of the women on our list all the more remarkable. From pioneers in engineering sub-disciplines like computer science and electrical engineering to the newest generation of revolutionary thinkers in areas like nano-medicine and nuclear powers, these 35 influential women engineers showcase the brilliant minds driving today’s leading edge innovations, developing tomorrow’s life-saving discoveries, and generally taking us to thrilling new heights of scientific understanding.
While the Census figures show how far we’ve come, the data also show that there is still a great deal of work to be done in advancing equal representation in engineering. To this end, let the women on this list be an inspiration to the next generation of analysts, innovators, and influencers.
35 Highly Influential Women in Engineering 2000-2020
- Adah Almutairi
1976 - Present (45 years)#13416 person’s overall influence
Adah Almutairi is a scholar, inventor, and entrepreneur. Almutairi is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry; affiliate faculty in the departments of Bioengineering and NanoEngineering; and Director of the Center for Excellence in Nanomedicine and Engineering in the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at the University of California, San Diego . Her work focuses on nanomedicine, nanotechnology, chemistry and polymer science. Almutairi is a 2016 Kavli Fellow and has received numerous honors and awards such as the NIH director’s new innovator award in 2009 for her work on “Chemically Amplified Response Strategies for Medical Sciences”. Almutairi holds over a dozen U.S. and International patents, many of which are currently licensed in Industry. Almutairi is the Founder of eLux Medical Inc
- # 1Rose Amal
1965 - Present (56 years)#133519 person's overall influence
Rose Amal is the Scientia Professor and ARC Laureate Fellow and director of the Particles and Catalysis Research Group in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of New South Wales. She earned a bachelor of engineering degree in chemical engineering and a Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of New South Wales. Her research has focused on the design and development of nanomaterials and systems for chemical and solar energy conversion.
- # 2Anousheh Ansari
1966 - Present (55 years)#10754 person's overall influence
Anousheh Ansari is an Iranian American engineer and co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems. Her previous business accomplishments include serving as co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies, Inc. . The Ansari family is also the title sponsor of the Ansari X Prize. On September 18, 2006, a few days after her 40th birthday, she became the first Iranian female in space. Ansari was the fourth overall self-funded space tourist, and the first self-funded woman to fly to the International Space Station. Her memoir, My Dream of Stars, co-written with Homer Hickam, was published by Palgrave Mac...
- # 3Kristi Anseth
1968 - Present (53 years)#73353 person's overall influence
Kristi S. Anseth is the Tisone Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, an Associate Professor of Surgery, and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her main research interests are the design of synthetic biomaterials using hydrogels, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine.
- # 4Frances Arnold
1956 - Present (65 years)#9235 person's overall influence
Frances Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry for the California Institute of Technology. She earned a B.S. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and an M.S. and Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of methods of using directed evolution to facilitate enzyme development.
- # 5Wanda Austin
1954 - Present (67 years)#32595 person's overall influence
Wanda M. Austin is a former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, a leading architect for the nation’s national security space programs. She was both the first woman, and the first African-American, to hold this position. The Aerospace Corporation has nearly 3,600 employees and annual revenues of more than $917 million. Austin assumed this position on January 1, 2008, and retired on October 1, 2016. She continues as a consultant for the corporation.
- # 6Ruzena Bajcsy
1933 - Present (88 years)#4146 person's overall influence
Ruzena Bajcsy is an American engineer and computer scientist who specializes in robotics. She is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also Director Emerita of CITRIS .
- # 7Gilda Barabino
1956 - Present (65 years)#1597573 person's overall influence
Gilda A. Barabino is the president of the Olin College of Engineering, where she is also a Professor of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering. Previously, she served as the Dean of The Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York, and as a professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering and the CUNY School of Medicine. On March 4, she became the President-Elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- # 8Dawn Bonfield#854122 person's overall influence
Dawn Bonfield currently holds the titles of Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering at Aston University, as well as Director of Engineering Equality Diversity and Inclusion at Aston University. Bonfield is also a past president and chief executive of the Women’s Engineering Society.
- # 9Ursula Burns
1958 - Present (63 years)#14478 person's overall influence
Ursula M. Burns , is an American businesswoman. She was the chair and CEO of VEON from late 2018 to early 2020, a senior advisor to Teneo, and a non-executive director of Diageo since April 2018. She is a member of the board of directors of Uber.
- # 10M. Elizabeth Cannon#43017 person's overall influence
Elizabeth Cannon is a Canadian engineer specializing in geomatics engineering and president Emerita of the University of Calgary. From 2010 to 2018, she served as the university's eighth president and vice-chancellor, the first alumna to hold that position.
- # 11Marita Cheng
1989 - Present (32 years)#109265 person's overall influence
Marita Cheng is the founder of Robogals. She was named the 2012 Young Australian of the Year. She is the founder and current CEO of Aubot, a start-up robotics company. She co-founded Aipoly, an app to assist blind people to recognise objects using their mobile phones. She was named as one of the World's Top 50 women in Technology by Forbes in 2018, and was recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2016.
- # 12Leslie Dewan
1984 - Present (37 years)#26833 person's overall influence
Leslie Dewan is an American nuclear engineer. She was the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Transatomic Power. Dewan is a member of the board of MIT and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
- # 13Ann Dowling
1952 - Present (69 years)#36596 person's overall influence
Ann Dowling is a Deputy Vice-Chancellor and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge. She studied at the University of Cambridge where she earned a Ph.D degree.
- # 14Mica Endsley
1961 - Present (60 years)#12765 person's overall influence
Mica Endsley is an engineer and a former Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force. The position of the Chief Scientist was created over 60 years ago to provide independent scientific advice to the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, as well as to its senior leadership. In this role, she worked with the top scientists and engineers within the Air Force as well as in academia, industry, and the other armed services to ensure that the Air Force's research and development efforts remain relevant and effective. Additionally, as the Chief Scientist she responded
- # 15Lynn Gladden
1961 - Present (60 years)#35819 person's overall influence
Lynn Gladden is the Shell Professor of Chemical Engineering for the University of Cambridge, as well as executive chair at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. She earned a B.S. in chemical physics from the University of Bristol and a Ph.D in physical chemistry from the University of Cambridge. She went on to conduct postgraduate studies in physics at the University of Oxford.
- # 16Diane Greene
1955 - Present (66 years)#7980 person's overall influence
Diane B. Greene is an American technology entrepreneur and executive. Greene started her career as a naval architect before transitioning to the tech industry, where she was a founder and CEO of VMware from 1998 until 2008. She was a board director of Google and CEO of Google Cloud from 2015 until 2019. She was also the co-founder and CEO of two startups, Bebop and VXtreme, which were acquired by Google and Microsoft, for $380 million and $75 million.
- # 17Helen Greiner
1967 - Present (54 years)#17279 person's overall influence
Helen Greiner is a co-founder of iRobot and former CTO of Aria Insights, Inc. , a start-up company specializing in small multi-rotor drones for the consumer, commercial and military markets.Early life and education Greiner was born in London in 1967. Her father came to England as a refugee from Hungary, and met his wife, Helen's mother, at the University of London. When Helen was five, her family moved to Southampton, New York, USA.
- # 18Mae Jemison
1956 - Present (65 years)#7325 person's overall influence
Mae Carol Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1987 and was selected to serve for the STS-47 mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days on September 12–20, 1992.
- # 19Dina Katabi
1970 - Present (51 years)#8804 person's overall influence
Dina Katabi is the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the director of the MIT Wireless Center.Academic biography Katabi received a bachelor's degree from the University of Damascus in 1995 and M.S and Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 1998 and 2003 respectively. In 2003, Katabi joined MIT, where she currently holds the title of Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She is the co-director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing and a principal investigator at the Computer Sc...
- # 20Lydia Kavraki#9502 person's overall influence
Lydia E. Kavraki is a Greek-American computer scientist, the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science, a professor of bioengineering, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering at Rice University. She is also the director of the Ken Kennedy Institute at Rice University. She is known for her work on robotics/AI and bioinformatics/computational biology and in particular for the probabilistic roadmap method for robot motion planning and biomolecular configuration analysis.
- # 21Barbara Liskov
1939 - Present (82 years)#1562 person's overall influence
Liskov (née Barbara Huberman) is a computer scientist at MIT, where she is Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Institute Professor in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), where she leads the Programming Methodology Group. One of the first women in the US to earn a PhD in computer science, Liskov was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the eldest of four siblings. In 2008, she won the Turing Award for her invention of the Liskov substitution principle, one of only three women to win that award so far...
- # 22Sandra Magnus
1964 - Present (57 years)#25746 person's overall influence
Sandra Hall Magnus is an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut. She returned to Earth with the crew of STS-119 Discovery on March 28, 2009, after having spent 134 days in orbit. She was assigned to the crew of STS-135, the final mission of the Space Shuttle. She is also a licensed amateur radio operator with the call sign KE5FYE. From 2012 until 2018 Magnus was the executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
- # 23Radhika Nagpal#12985 person's overall influence
Radhika Nagpal is an American computer scientist and researcher in the fields of self-organising computer systems, biologically-inspired robotics, and biological multi-agent systems. She is the Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also a Core Faculty Member of the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. In 2017, Nagpal co-founded a robotics company under the name of Root Robotics. This educational company works to create many different opportunities for those unable to code to lea...
- # 24Dava Newman
1964 - Present (57 years)#35707 person's overall influence
Dava J. Newman is a former Deputy Administrator of NASA. Newman earned her Ph.D. in aerospace biomedical engineering, and Master of Science degrees in aerospace engineering and technology and policy all from MIT, and her Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Newman is the Apollo Program Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Harvard–MIT Health, Sciences, and Technology faculty member in Cambridge, MA. She is also a MacVicar Faculty Fellow , former Director of the Tech
- # 25Barbara Oakley
1955 - Present (66 years)#8568 person's overall influence
Barbara Ann Oakley is an American professor of engineering at Oakland University and McMaster University whose online courses on learning are some of the most popular MOOC classes in the world. She is involved in multiple areas of research, ranging from STEM education, to learning practices.
- # 26Arati Prabhakar
1959 - Present (62 years)#9713 person's overall influence
Arati Prabhakar is an American engineer and the former head of DARPA, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a position she held from July 30, 2012 to January 20, 2017. She is a founder and the CEO of Actuate, a nonprofit organization.
- # 27Daniela L. Rus
1963 - Present (58 years)#10037 person's overall influence
Daniela L. Rus is a Romanian-American roboticist, the Director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory , and Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- # 28Lisa Su
1969 - Present (52 years)#9700 person's overall influence
Lisa Su is a Taiwan-born American business executive and electrical engineer, who is the president and chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices . Early in her career, Su worked at Texas Instruments, IBM, and Freescale Semiconductor in engineering and management positions. She is known for her work developing silicon-on-insulator semiconductor manufacturing technologies and more efficient semiconductor chips during her time as vice president of IBM's Semiconductor Research and Development Center.
- # 29Tessy Thomas
1963 - Present (58 years)#16675 person's overall influence
Tessy Thomas is an Indian scientist and Director General of Aeronautical Systems and the former Project Director for Agni-IV missile in Defence Research and Development Organisation. She is the first ever woman scientist to head a missile project in India.
- # 30Manuela M. Veloso
1957 - Present (64 years)#8932 person's overall influence
Veloso is Herbert A. Simon University Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Lisbon, Portugal, at the prestigious Instituto Superior Técnico. She received her Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Veloso also holds the title of Head of AI Research at J.P. Morgan Bank.
- # 31Padmasree Warrior
1961 - Present (60 years)#32081 person's overall influence
Padmasree Warrior is an Indian-American businesswoman and technology executive. She is known for her leadership roles in technology firms like Cisco where she served as the CTO for seven years, and at Motorola where she was the CTO for five years. She also served as the CEO of NIO USA, an electric car maker. Currently, she is the founder and CEO of Fable, a curated reading platform focused on mental wellness. She also serves on the board of directors of Microsoft and Spotify.
- # 32Jennifer Widom#3238 person's overall influence
Jennifer Widom is the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the Stanford School of Engineering and the Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science and professor in the Stanford Department of Electrical Engineering. She was the chair of the computer science department from 2009 to 2014, and served as a senior associate dean from 2014 to 2016. In February 2017 she was named Dean of the School of Engineering. In 2015, ACM conferred her with the ACM-W Athena Lecturer Award to honor prominent women Computer Scientists for the introduction of fundamental concepts and architectures of active database syst...
- # 33Stephanie Wilson
1966 - Present (55 years)#21654 person's overall influence
Stephanie Diana Wilson is an American engineer and a NASA astronaut. She flew to space onboard three Space Shuttle missions, and is the second African American woman to go into space, after Mae Jemison. Her 42 days in space are the most of any female African American astronaut.
- Jackie Yi-Ru Ying
1966 - Present (55 years)#20524 person’s overall influence
Jackie Yi-Ru Ying is an American nanotechnology scientist and the founding executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore.
Ranked by Influence
- Barbara Liskov
- Ruzena Bajcsy
- Dina Katabi
- Diana Greene
- Jennifer Widom
- Barbara Oakley
- Mae C. Jemison
- Adah Almutairi
- Manuela M. Veloso
- Daniela L. Rus
- Ursula Burns
- Frances Arnold
- Lydia Kavraki
- Tessy Thomas
- Arati Prabhakar
- Jackie Yi-Ru Ying
- Sandra Magnus
- Radhika Nagpal
- Wanda Austin
- Stephanie Wilson
- Mica Endsley
- Dava Newman
- Anousheh Ansari
- M. Elizabeth Cannon
- Ann Dowling
- Lisa Su
- Lynn Gladden
- Kristi Anseth
- Marita Cheng
- Helen Greiner
- Leslie Dewan
- Rose Amal
- Padmasree Warrior
- Dawn Bonfield
- Gilda Barabino