Women* in Quality Infrastructure: Impressions from Germany and Mexico
In both Germany and Mexico, women* are still the minority when it comes to professional representation in QI institutions. While numbers specific to QI institutions are difficult to come by, the trend is already visible in the lecture halls of engineering departments: In Germany, only 25 % of first-year engineering students are women* , while in Mexico, the share of female engineering graduates currently amounts to 31 % .
To address this topic, distinguished experts participated in the virtual seminar “Women in the Quality Infrastructure System in Germany and Mexico” on 29 March. Maribel López, Director General of the Mexican Accreditation Entity (entidad mexicana de acreditación – ema) and Viviana Fernández, Director General of the Mexican Institute for Standardisation and Certification (Instituto Mexicano de Normalización y Certificación – IMNC) represented the Mexican side. From the German side, Amelie Leipprand, Senior Project Manager of the German Institute for Standardization (Deutsches Institut für Normung - DIN) and Vera Moser, Technical Advisor in GPQI, participated.
With an online audience of 150 people, the experts exchanged perspectives on the evolution of women’s* participation in the QI-systems of both countries, as well as the challenges and best practices to increase and accelerate their representation and participation. They also concurred on the importance of advancing the integration of a gender perspective in the development of standards. The seminar was co-organised by the civil association Women of the Quality Infrastructure System (MUjeres del Sistema de Infraestructura de la CAlidad – MUSICA) and GPQI.
Common challenges and solutions across borders
The exchange helped to identify common challenges across borders, such as the comparatively low number of female* engineering students, persistent gender roles and meeting formats that render it difficult for women* to participate.
At the same time, the experts pointed out possible solutions. López, president of MUSICA, highlighted the importance of promoting networks amongst women* in order to exchange valuable experiences and contacts and to promote the integration of a gender perspective in standardisation. She also pointed out the need of data collection and statistics. These are necessary to find out to what extent gender perspectives are already included in QI activities and to define action plans. “What is not measured cannot be improved, so I think we should start with a good measurement”, concluded López.
Leipprand emphasised the need to change the way work in engineering and QI is perceived to attract more women* to these fields. "It’s more than conquering Mars or building turbines”, she said. Leipprand also stressed that respect is a foundation to generate change and integrate more women* as experts in technical standardisation committees.
Addressing institutions that want to promote a greater participation of women*, Fernández recommended to start by recognising the inequalities that exist in the workplace because of the gender binary. In particular, the vice president of MUSICA, suggested that companies should review their internal codes of conduct, company and wage policies to ensure that they are free of gender-based discrimination.
From her experience with working on QI-related topics and collaborating with various QI-institutions in Germany within GPQI, Moser stressed the importance of giving visibility to women* and encouraging networks among them. Platforms, such as GPQI, enable networking, as well as the exchange of knowledge and experience - both at national and international level. This contributes to greater participation of women in this field.
Furthering international cooperation on gender equality in QI
The experts concurred that there is still work to be done to achieve gender equality in QI, but already existing initiatives provide the starting point. The fruitful collaboration resulting from this event sets the scene for further cooperation between Mexico and Germany to integrate the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality and women* and girls*’ empowerment in QI activities. In GPQI we will continue to work on this topic, creating further opportunities for mutual learning and inspiration.
The recording of the webinar (in Spanish) can be accessed here.
 Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI), Ingenieurinnen gesucht, 2021. Available at https://www.vdi.de/news/detail/ingenieurinnen-gesucht.
 Asociación de Asociación Nacional de Universidades e Instituciones de Educación Superior (ANUIES), Anuario Estadístico de Educación Superior 2021, Mexico City, 2021. Available at http://www.anuies.mx/informacion-y-servicios/informacion-estadistica-de-educacion-superior/anuario-estadistico-de-educacion-superior.