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Topic Title: Young Woman Engineer of the Year award - end the gender discrimination
Topic Summary: Starting a campaign to abolish Young Woman Engineer of the Year or replace it with a non-discriminatory equivalent
Created On: 01 June 2012 12:05 AM
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 21 June 2012 04:58 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

My only point was about the "male" bit, not about young engineer awards in general. Sorry, but I would have thought that was pretty obvious.

And the seperate category is not to make it "easier" for women to win!!!! The point is to specifically identify young women who can act as role models, and - through marketing the award - market the fact that there are role models that organisations can use to support their work. Maybe there are better ways of doing this, but if so let's find them.

Unless someone can prove the YWE is actually destructive (not just that they feel a bit grumpy about it) I'm not sure that this discussion is getting anywhere. It just seems to suggest that there are a number of active IET memebers who are happy with the status quo and do not want to support those who are trying to improve it.

And it's raining again.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 21 June 2012 05:16 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: StewartTaylor
Point taken. But I would say that even though I'm well past 55 and losing my hair I don't feel corporate (in either sense of the term)!

BTW I'm not quite 55 (though sadly not far off).

He has a global reputation, he's 42 and doesn't look even slightly corporate or stuffy. Can't we find some more?

Sure, it would be great. It would be excellent if the IET education department could identify a number of such people and find a way to present them to schools and universities. It is quite hard to achieve though, I remember in my school days we used to get talks about world-leading figures, but their achievemnts seemed so unattainable it was actually off-putting. My experience is that you actually need to get them into genuinly live presentations (not IETTV!) where their combination of ordinariness and extraordinariness can come through. (i.e. "This may seem extraordinary, but look at me - I started just like you. You could do this as well.")

Of course this is what the STEM ambassador programme is about, we're trying to do this in a small way all the time.

So, like all things, it's getting the right mix.

P.S. I really appreciate your positive and helpful contributions to this thread!

Anyway, I'm off now for a week as I'm going to be supporting young people of multiple genders in finding whatever path they want into science and technology

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 21 June 2012 06:48 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
And the seperate category is not to make it "easier" for women to win!!!!

But is that not an argument that people will use in the real world or was that too obvious!! It is easier by default because we have excluded most of those who can apply for it.....do the maths.
Unless someone can prove the YWE is actually destructive (not just that they feel a bit grumpy about it) I'm not sure that this discussion is getting anywhere. It just seems to suggest that there are a number of active IET memebers who are happy with the status quo and do not want to support those who are trying to improve it.

No actually Andy some of us suggested a compromise solution of also having a young man engineer of the year award so do try to avoid the 'do not want to support those who are trying to improve it' statements. It was yourself who was unable to find a way to find a compromise solution and dimiss a young male engineer of the year award as not being of much value.

Most other institutions have an award which both genders can apply for, why? Do you think they are all grumpy or are not trying to improve things or maybe do you think they may actually have throught it through a bit more than the IET?

Regards.
 22 June 2012 11:39 AM
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rhysphillips

Posts: 71
Joined: 01 April 2010

Originally posted by: amillar

Role models may not have worked for you, but they do work for many others, it's one of the most commonly cited reasons for anyone to enter any profession. Whether we are using the YWE winners (or any other engineers) effectively as role models is, perhaps, a better question.


I think this is key. I don't think it matters what the age, race, gender etc. of the role model is or even what their job is. The question is can they make the field seem exciting, engaging and accessible to the people they are talking to. So there's no reason why a 60 year old man can't successfully be used as a role model to school girls for engineering, as long as he goes about it in the right way.

If this is the premise of the awards then it doesn't work because I don't see how they decide on whether the recipient is any good at doing this or not.
 22 June 2012 11:41 AM
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rhysphillips

Posts: 71
Joined: 01 April 2010

Originally posted by: StewartTaylor

Perhaps there's another aspect of these awards that gets missed in all the talk of role models.



If you really want to impress people with what an engineer can achieve, the youngsters aren't really the people to do it. Finding professionally mature engineers who have really achieved something big sounds to me to be a lot more promising. Yes, the 'young engineer' is perhaps closer to where the potential student is now, but all that says is 'it's not very far away'. What it doesn't say (with all due respect to the young engineers who undoubtedly have huge potential) is "Look! This is what you can achieve as an engineer!", which I think must have more potential to inspire enthusiam.


Sorry Stewart but I don't agree. It all depends on the individual and makes little difference what they've achieved and what age they are. It's how good they are at communicating that is key. Generally, we find that children can more easily relate to someone closer to their own age and this works better. However that doesn't mean that all 'yougnsters' are good at it. It also doesn't mean that there aren't older engineers who are great at enthusing young minds.
 22 June 2012 11:47 AM
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rhysphillips

Posts: 71
Joined: 01 April 2010

It is also worth pointing out that this year's Young Engineer of the Year was Jessica Jones from Cardiff. Her award was made on the basis of a technical project she made and not because she'd be seen as some sort of role model. As it happens, knowing her, I think she'll be great at going back into schools and inspiring those a few years below her. But she didn't need a specific women's award to achieve any of this.
 22 June 2012 12:54 PM
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rhysphillips

Posts: 71
Joined: 01 April 2010

And here's more evidence of bad female role models:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZtMmt5rC6g
 24 June 2012 08:36 AM
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z315870

Posts: 65
Joined: 30 May 2003

I'm really glad that the initial (deliberately inflammatory) post has provoked such an interesting discussion and brought out lots of thoughts and evidence that I didn't know about.

Can I call a straw poll? Here are the alternatives I think we've identified:

1: Carry on as we are now - YWE award only

2: Make it Young Engineer of the Year award like other institutions (i.e. ONE award open to BOTH genders)

3: Keep YWE and add "YME" as well to have something equivalent that is open to men.

I vote for 2, because I think that is the fairest, and I think that the most attractive thing we can do to interest young technically-minded applicants is to assure them ALL that they will be on a level playing field.

-------------------------
Dr Joe Silmon PhD MEng CEng MIET
Committee Member, Railway TPN
 24 June 2012 11:21 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

I vote for 3, because it keeps it fair and yet does not diminish the stated value/role of the YWE award.

Regards.
 25 June 2012 02:55 PM
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jpwilson

Posts: 63
Joined: 16 May 2007

Hello,

You might like to read E&T's For & Against debate on this issue from issue 18, 2010:

http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2010/18/debate.cfm

Alice Delahunty argues the case for the Young Woman Engineer of the year award: Suzanne Boothman argues the case against.

As it happens, you can still vote on this topic. At the moment the case against is slightly ahead.
 25 June 2012 02:58 PM
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jpwilson

Posts: 63
Joined: 16 May 2007

And for what it's worth, here's the E&T news report on the 2011 winner:

http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2011/dec/iet-award.cfm

Whichever side of the debate you stand on, you've got to admit that Charlotte Joyce looks pretty pleased with her award, if not her proximity to Myleene Klass.
 25 June 2012 06:03 PM
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z315870

Posts: 65
Joined: 30 May 2003

Brilliant! Please vote, folks!

-------------------------
Dr Joe Silmon PhD MEng CEng MIET
Committee Member, Railway TPN
 27 June 2012 08:36 AM
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faramog

Posts: 444
Joined: 25 November 2002

Err .. no Joe, I don't agree with that. Societies need role models, heroes, aspiration. In a field dominated by one gender there is a pervasive view that it 'must not be for me'.

I am a school governor and we get this all the time - it take positive action (not the same thing as positive discrimination) to encourage, educate and give belief to do something that's not typically 'of your gender'. That includes science, engineering etc for girls and food sciences etc for boys.

Just because there is no reason women should not be engineers is not the same thing as saying the door is open for them, its up to them, and they don't need any encouragement.

Discuss ?

Originally posted by: z315870

Graham, I think you defeat your own argument here!



If there is no justifiable reason for women to be less proficient engineers than men, then there is also no justifiable reason for men to be less proficient than women at being good engineering role models.



Ergo this award should be ope to all.



Discuss?


-------------------------
Eur Ing Graham Prebble CEng MIEE
 27 June 2012 11:24 PM
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z315870

Posts: 65
Joined: 30 May 2003

Just because there is no reason women should not be engineers is not the same thing as saying the door is open for them


I wasn't suggesting we don't have role models at all. It's fine to say the door is open to all. What I have been saying all along is that it doesn't take a woman to say those things - anybody can say it.

I agree about positive action, but YWE's eligibility rules go much further than that, though - it's not just positive action but a form of discrimination, call it positive or negative it's still unfair and I think it's a bad example to set if we want women to feel they are competing in an even playing field.

Maybe we don't want that. Maybe we want women engineers to feel they'll get an easy ride, but I doubt that somehow, because we wouldn't retain them for long as once they discover the harsh realities they would up and leave.

I notice you mention self-belief, Graham, I think that is key to the entire thing and I don't think it's something we can do a lot about as it depends much more on the teachers and parents of young people. I see our role as more spreading awareness of the opportunities - it's up to parents and teachers to inspire young people with the belief that they can take up the opportunities we offer.

Just to give an example of this, a couple of years ago I hosted a work experience student from a comprehensive school in Tipton (in a particularly deprived area of the West Midlands). This young woman hugely impressed me with her enthusiasm, quick learning and initative. She'd ended up with us (a university research department) because she'd expressed an interest in physics and her teachers had turned to contacts at the University to try to set up a placement; in the end, instead of Physics she got Electronic Engineering, because I was available to spend the time and nobody from Physics was. This wasn't an ideal situation and must have been hugely intimidating for her (coming from a community where very few people attend university and unemployment in general is very high), but I met one of her teachers and it was clear he'd been instrumental in helping her realise her interests, fuelling her self-belief and ambitions. He was so full of pride over this bright young woman that he was fit to burst. This teacher was the one who had the opportunity to put time and effort into inspiring this young woman. You'll note that the teacher is male.

I would argue that it is there that the power exists to kindle self-belief - all we can do as outsiders to the day-to-day lives of young people is to show them the opportunities that are available to them.

You don't have to be female to do that.


On a slightly more flippant note, but perhaps pointing out how ridiculous it is to have a prize open to only one gender, what would happen if a transgender person were nominated? Would they have to undergo some kind of medical before being accepted as eligible? Would pre-op male-to-female transexuals be accepted? Their own identity might well be female, yet their physiology would be male.

Here are a couple of things I think we can do to show ourselves as being more open, without having a "you're a good engineer, for a girl" prize:

1 - Stop referring to engineering/science as a "male-dominated" profession. It implies there's some kind of conspiracy to keep women out. I wouldn't even talk about the gender balance unless asked. Then point out that the disparity occurs at the stage of application, rather than being a result of discrimination in selection for education or jobs. Also point out that these days many more women are applying and working in the industry than used to be the case. This must surely be true, if my own observations bear out across the industry.

2 - Open up the issue of diversity - it's not just about women and men, it's about disabled people, certain ethnic minorities, and most of all about people from poor families. The diversity section of our output to students should focus on the ways that are open for every sector of society to take part. For example, a slide showing how poor students will always be able to afford to attend university (remember, they have been told a lot of lies by certain political groups who haven't realised that the rubbish they talk is effecting the very social change they claim to oppose).

3 - Select case studies that reflect the diversity of the population. I don't have a problem with that - deliberately doing a slide on a woman engineer you know because you want all the audience to see someone "like them". It's the paying them £1000 for it that I have a problem with.

-------------------------
Dr Joe Silmon PhD MEng CEng MIET
Committee Member, Railway TPN
 04 August 2012 06:06 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

The IET often uses 10 year cycles before deciding on changes. By that time decision makers will have retired and so consequences of blame and change won't affect them.

Give it a few more years and the whole thing will be scrapped.
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