Old-fashioned attitudes and schools that fail to offer crucial subjects are putting women off careers as engineers.
The first female director general of Engineers Ireland said the statistics were "stark" as just one in every 10 engineers was a woman.
Caroline Spillane said her group had been looking at the influences on girls choosing science, technology and maths courses.
She said women were an "untapped resource" and more than 86pc of her members believed parents and teachers could do more to break down barriers for girls studying subjects that support careers in the profession.
Ms Spillane was speaking during Engineers Week at NUI Galway to mark the official naming of the Alice Perry Engineering Building, celebrating the first Irish woman to get a degree in engineering.
"There's perhaps a belief that engineering jobs are more suited to men than women," she said.
"To the general public engineering is associated with cars, construction and heavy machinery. They think it's a male-dominated environment, but there are newer disciplines such as bio-medic where there's a levelling off of the ratio of men and women.
"We must find ways of attracting more girls to engineering to tackle some of the world's greatest issues."
According to Eurostat, 85pc of engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates were men in 2014, compared with an EU average of 73pc.
In The Workplace
Wednesday, March 8, is an important day for everyone's calendars. It marks International Women's Day, a worldwide event that celebrates women's achievements in all spheres of life. It began in the early 1900s, when almost 20,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights.