GM's Mary Barra is the only female CEO of a major carmaker (Photo: GM)

One of the bigger challenges IT and other technology-driven industries have faced for decades is how to attract more female engineers.

Efforts to boost the relatively low number of women in engineering companies remain largely unsuccessful. The same holds true for the top management ranks.

There are some exceptions. In the world of high tech, IBM, for example, is headed by a woman, Virginia Rometty. From 1999 til 2005, HP was run by CEO Carly Fiorina. And several other women are employed in high-profile senior positions in the IT business.

The most highly visible female automotive executive is Mary Barra, who took over at the helm of General Motors in 2014. On a smaller scale, Elsewhere in the car industry, Daimler's Smart brand has for years been run by Annette Winkler.

But elsewhere in the industry's management ranks, women are few and far between.

Lina Nilsson, innovation director at the Blum Center for Developing Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that attracting women to the engineering profession requires, in first instance, a fundamental change in the focus of engineering work.

"If the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enrol in droves," Blum writes in an oped piece for the New York Times newspaper.

Blum's article is at: