A recent article written in Inc. by Jill Krasny asked “Why women are ditching the engineering industry in droves.” In the article, Jill mentioned a psychologist from the University of Wisconsin, Nadya Fouad, who stated less than 65 percent of women she surveyed were currently working in engineering. She went on to say there appeared to be three main reasons:
- the ‘good old boys club’ was evident,
- little room for advancement, and
- no female role models.
Her take was not that women had to change, the work environment had to change. She also remarked that “more than any profession,” engineering had the highest turnover of all – even more than medicine and law.
As a counter to this article is an article from the U.S. News and World Report written by Allie Bidwell that there is “No ‘Leaky Pipeline’ for Women in STEM.” She approaches the subject first by stating that those women that get a bachelor’s degree in STEM subjects are less likely than men to get a PhD.
Quoted from the article, “But an analysis of 30-year trends in pSTEM fields – those in physical science, technology, engineering and mathematics – shows the gender gap in persistence rates actually has closed since the 1970s, when men were nearly two times as likely to later earn a relevant doctorate. By the 1990s, the gap had completely closed, the study found. Researchers David Miller of Northwestern and Jonathan Wai, a Duke University Talent Identification Program research scientist, chose to focus on pSTEM fields and exclude social sciences and life sciences.”
Miller proposed to re-frame the issue from just “plugging leaks” to one of getting more (women) students interested in the STEM fields in the first place.
As an observer of STEM careers, it is critically apparent that women need to have female role models. Those that have been through the studying, internships, and times of difficulty and have come out successful can greatly encourage young students. It is important to provide encouragement and advice, in some cases providing mentorship. In our area, Toyota Motor Manufacturing has a group of women who provide meetings, presentations, and tours of the Camry manufacturing facility for women that are considering pursuing STEM fields, particularly engineering.
Engineering is just one of the many STEM careers that allow women to use their math and science skills and creativity for the world. It would behoove parents that are interested in their daughter’s future (if they show promise in STEM subjects) to pursue finding out now about alternatives for summer or after school camps to help encourage them to persist through the difficulties in order to have a satisfying career.
Quote for the Day: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” — Walt Disney