Why arent there more female engineers?
Why arent there more female engineers? (Thinkstock)
Why arent there more female engineers?
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In U.S. universities, women make up just 12 percent of engineering professors. Likewise, just 11 percent of working engineers are female. Yet women represent 20 percent of the engineering degrees awarded each year, as the Washington Post points out.

Researchers have long questioned what fuels this divide, citing everything from women's greater likelihood to become full-time parents to women's supposed tendency to be less aggressive in pursuing opportunities. Neither of those things, it turns out, actually explains the problem. Instead, a chilly workplace environment seems to be the main factor that pushes women out of engineering careers.

In a new study, researchers surveyed more than 5,000 female graduates who earned engineering degrees from top universities over the past 60 years. Forty percent of the respondents, the Post reports, had either left the engineering field or never used their degree professionally. Women most frequently cited "uncivil workplace climates," including "the expectation to put in long hours of face time in the office, and the perception that there was little opportunity to advance," as the main motivation behind their decision to leave engineering.

Supervisor support, according to the Post, was often lacking, and the respondents said they frequently suffered from condescending comments and gossip at the hands of male colleagues. Many jobs and labs also did not make provisions for having a family, forcing women to choose between their careers or families, researchers add. Other women said they did not like the fact that they were the only female employee or student in their workplace or lab.

Research underscores the importance of mentoring. From their analysis, the researchers found that women who did stick with engineering and went on to enjoy a successful career often said they had a supportive supervisor when they were just getting started. That means that, to begin to close the gender divide in engineering, system-wide change needs to be implemented from the top down, the researchers told the Washington Post. And that first requires acknowledging that "this is not a womans issue,'" one research told the paper. It's "about creating a good work environment."

Critical thinking challenge: How did researchers answer this question: Why aren't there more female engineers?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/why-aren-t-there-more-female-engineers/

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COMMENTS (44)
  • ChiChiM-Alb
    1/23/2015 - 04:40 p.m.

    I think that there should be more women in the field of engineering. I also think that it is unfair for the men to be treating them unfairly. I agree with the article that there should be changes so more women will enter the field of engineering.

  • EllaD-Alb
    1/23/2015 - 04:47 p.m.

    Why don't the women study the work place before they start their job, it would probably help them get a better job if they knew what it was like to spend time there!

  • darbyd-Koc
    1/25/2015 - 09:11 p.m.

    People shouldn't be feeling uncomfortable in the environment that they work in. That just makes for a bad combination. And it's even worse when you have no one to help support you within that work place. Personally I've never been interested in anything to do with engineering, but no matter the profession it's not fair to make someone feel disliked just because they're a rarity to the job.

  • coreyong-Koc
    1/25/2015 - 11:28 p.m.

    Any piece of technology we feel brings viewers closer to the event, we're interested in, said Chris Calcinari, who spearheaded the approvals process for ESPN. I don't think there are many events that would actually allow us to fly a drone. This is a big opportunity.

  • veronicav-Koc
    1/26/2015 - 12:21 a.m.

    I think reasons why there are not as many female engineers is because most women prefer more in the medical career then engineering. Although engineers seems like a good opportunity to learn or have as a career, I think it would be good for women to be in engineering but its not fair for them not to get as much time as they want as males have in their working environment.

  • NW2000Basketball
    1/26/2015 - 08:37 a.m.

    The researchers surveyed women and they said there is too much gossip with or about male colleagues. The woman that answered these questions about the engineering graduated but never used it as a career.

  • JS2001basketball
    1/26/2015 - 08:41 a.m.

    The reason there are not that much female engineers is because females have a better likelihood to be a full - time parent instead of becoming an engineer

  • Ashlynn1048
    1/26/2015 - 02:09 p.m.

    I think it's horrible that there aren't as many women in the field of engineering, they are just as capable as men. I have actually considered engineering as a career for when I am older. Really I think that women should just pursue their goals and follow their degrees, no matter how few have.

  • KiraWvA-4
    1/26/2015 - 07:52 p.m.

    One of the most confusing problems of today is why, if women are so empowered, aren't there many female engineers? The answer lies with the common, frigid work climate presented in engineering workplaces and how many companies do not allow paid maternity leave or opportunities such as that, forcing the women to choose between a family and an engineering career. Also, many prospective engineers do not like how they are the only woman to be an employee or student in a company. I think this shows how much the environment can affect how women think and act, and even why it would be important to have a mentor or someone to show you the ropes when you're learning your profession.

  • dianaz-Che
    1/27/2015 - 02:23 p.m.

    I think that having women as engineers isn't a bad thing and having them in their workplace is still a good work environment. More women should try and be enigneers

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