Where Are the Women Engineers?: Page 2 of 2

Only 12% of engineers are women. That needs to change.

waters as founder and CEO of Nomiku.

Consider this blog your invitation to join us. And come prepared for an exceptional discussion and networking. These women are stellar examples of engineering and business acumen.

The panel and networking session will start at 7:30 a.m. (early, yes, but we wanted to make sure people could attend and still get to their desks on time) when we will gather at the San Jose Convention Center, room 211D, for what will be a thought-provoking panel featuring the above-mentioned leaders. We will then allow for networking and continued informal discussion with our panelists.

The session is open to all ESC attendees. You can register for ESC here and let us know if you plan to attend or if there’s any specific questions you’d like the panel to answer by commenting below or emailing me .

We hope to see you there.

 

Comments

Jerald Cogswell's picture
I fully agree that women should be more represented in the engineering field, not only for income fairness, but for their different perspective from men on design. But let's not minimize the importance of the arts, vital to ergonomics, product design, marketing, advertising; And history, too, so vital to showing us where we've been in our species' story. Education in all fields is important. Let's not cut funding to art education just to support STEM classes. Support public education.

This subject comes up over and over, and the arguments are that we must get more women in STEM, and that some form of sexism is the root cause. Is it worth investigating how many women want to be engineers before we begin placing gender quotas on career choices? If it can't be shown that higher percentages of women desire STEM careers, I don't agree that women should be more represented in those careers. Many women "filter out over time". Why? Wrong career choice? Sexism? Both? Neither?

Is the problem that women engineers want more women engineers? I couldn't careless if an engineer is a woman or man as long as they can get the job done. I have 50 years of experience in the industry as a contract designer and I am surprised that the number of women is that high. I have worked in many, many companies and can count the women I worked with on two hands. I have trained 3D CAD software and I think I had two women in all the classes I taught.

This subject keeps coming up, and it keeps begging the same question. WHY are more women needed in engineering? I have known some women who are the very best engineers I've ever worked with. But most of them didn't even know why they decided to become engineers and didn't seem to want to be an engineer. They are highly recruited (and everyone suspects they are better-paid than their male counterparts), but once they are hired, they usually go to a different field, like marketing or IT.

Maybe an initial question for your panelists is why none of them stayed with a career in engineering and moved into management? Diversity simply for the sake of diversity is ignorant in any career field. Stating that any percentage is too low (12% seems amazingly high to me) is meaningless unless it is first shown that more qualified applicants want in and are denied access.

Could it be that women are just not interested in engineering as a career? Do they "filter out over time" because they are interested in other things besides engineering? For at least 30 years now, there has been an effort to get more women into STEM careers, and yet, the numbers are still low. It's hard to believe that after all that effort that sexism is the problem. If fewer women then men are interested in engineering as a career, why is that a problem? Isn't that their choice?

Joe, turn your question around, is it a problem that men engineers want more men engineers? Paul tells you that all the good female engineers he knew didn't want to be engineers & go into other fields. (Subtext, why did they take up jobs that could have been filled by men. Actually, not so much subtext when he asks WHY women ) Tom goes directly into the controversial "quota" argument, which wasn't the point of the article, but supports his view that engineering does well as a guys club. REALLY.

Anita, my view is that I want the best people who want to be engineers to be engineers. I don't want people who don't want to be doctors to be doctors, or people who don't want to be engineers to be engineers. What you end up with is people who are not passionate enough about what they do to enjoy it or excel at it. Then they "filter out over time". I believe that it is worth investigating whether lots more women WANT to be engineers before we thrust our desires upon them.

Part of the problem with waiting until people WANT to be an engineer is that engineering can be made unappealing very easily. My college had a requirement for a Technical Communication course, where the instructor pointed out that as an engineer, you'll make more presentations than most Theatre majors and write more than most English majors. That startled a lot of the guys in the class and isn't something that is communicated often. Engineering is a rich field that is pigeonholed too often.

Wouldn't putting women in engineering before they WANT to be engineers be pigeonholing? I don't really understand your point. To me, a person should want to be an engineer before entering engineering studies. If you really want to be an engineer, you will not be frustrated away by a difficult course. If you are trying to stay away from difficult courses, engineering would probably not be the field to take up.

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