Inside Bricsys Gebouwen Civiel & landmeetkunde Productie & Mechanisch

Women in CAD

Door Rose Barfield 6 min 7 maart 2020
Women in CAD

In honor of International Women's Day, let's explore the topic of women in CAD. Sorry fellas, you'll have to wait, Internation Men's Day isn't until November!

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The ladies in our Romanian office. If you've got a problem, they're here to help!

Did you know? There are less women than men in many CAD-related industries.*

Here' a breakdown of the percentage of women working in some key, CAD-related job roles:

Job role % women
Construction and building trades n.e.c. 3.17%
Design and development engineers 4.02%
Mechanical engineers 5.5%
Civil engineers 5.5%
Draughtspersons 12.38%
Programmers and software development 13.6%
Architects 31.14%

Data for people who do not define themselves as male or female is insufficient at this time.

Interestingly, 45.5% of designers in the US are women (including set designers, graphic designers, and fashion designers). This is roughly equal to the percentage of women in the workforce!

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Female engineer at work. Image: Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond

Notable women in CAD-related industries

Although there are fewer women in CAD-related roles there are still plenty of inspiring women out there. We have spoken before about some of the great women in engineering history and many continue to lead the forefront of the CAD world:

Women in CAD- london eye

The London Eye, 2000 © Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Julia Barfield

British-born Julia Barfield is most famous for creating the London Eye together with her husband David Marks, a true marvel of engineering. At the time it was built, it was the largest Ferris wheel in the world and it is still the largest cantilevered observation wheel. The pair run Mark Barfield Architects and have designed everything from bridges to drinking fountains, demonstrating that when men and women work together, incredible things can be achieved!

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Seven generations of the Chevrolet Corvette. Image via Flickr Abdullah AlBargan

Mary Barra

American-born, Mary Barra was appointed General Motors Corp's CEO in 2014. Truly breaking the glass ceiling for women in engineering, she was the first female CEO of any major Auto Manufacturer, earning her a place on Forbes' list of World's Most Powerful People in 2018.

Women in CAD- citroen

Paris Citroën Showroom Champs-Élysées Paris. Left: Martin Robson from Brighton, UK / CC BY-SA  RightMark Hillary

Manuelle Gautrand

French-born, Manuelle Gautrand came to fame with her design for the C42 Citroën showroom in 2008 -- loved by architectural nuts and petrolheads alike. Her chic, colorful and geometric style, gives life to otherwise grey, cities.

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Zaha Hadid -- Galaxy SOHO Via Flickr 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia

Zaha Hadid

Iraq-born, Zaha Hadid is arguably one of the most influential architects of our time. She has designed stunning buildings from The Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza to the Guangzhou Opera House and even the Bergisel Ski Jump. Although she died in 2016, she left behind a legacy and an architecture studio, that is still pushing boundaries!

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Patricia Goforth

Patricia Goforth is the executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. She leads more than 3,400 engineers and scientists and was named as one of the Most Powerful Female Engineers of 2018 by Business Insider.


The Bricsys Ladies in our office in Novosibirsk, Russia.

What do people working in the industry think?

When I spoke to people about the topic I received a wide variety of responses. A large number of both men and women expressed an interest in encouraging more women to join CAD-related industries. Others voiced a concern that this could lead to discrimination.

If you are concerned about discrimination, you can find links below.

The takeaway

Although fewer women work in the CAD industry, there are still plenty of talented women programming, designing, drafting and manging. Sometimes, as with the London Eye, the most impressive results come from when men and women work together.

Whether you a man, a woman or you fit outside of the boxes, the CAD world is one where anyone who has the talent and the right mental attitude, can succeed.

What are your thoughts?

Let me know what your experiences are in the comments below.

Further Reading:

The pay gap between male and female architects is around 15% in the UK and 14% in the US

Female computer programmers suffer an 11.6% pay gap, the 8th in the largest gender pay gap

The adjusted pay gap for designers is around 4.9% percent, in favor of men.

Harvard Bussiness Review reports that around 43% of women leave the workforce to care for children and around 24% leave to care for elderly parents or other family members.

Societies for women in engineering, architecture and tech

Many great societies promote women in engineering and tech:

  • BeWise -- Belgian Women in Science
  • FWIS -- For Women in Science
  • SWE -- Society for Women Engineers
  • WIE -- Women in Engineering
  • WIT -- Women in Technology
  • EWIT --  European Women in Technology
  • WIBIM -- Women in BIM (Mentor Scheme)
  • iReleunch -- runs a "Return-to-Work Program" that aims to help talented women engineers return to work after taking a break to care for a family.


Want to learn more about encouraging a more diverse workspace without discrimination?

Disclaimer: This post has focused on the difference between men and women in the workplace, as data available for people who do not define themselves as male or female was insufficient. It is hoped that this changes in the future.

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