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Topic Title: Positive discrimination towards women in engineering
Topic Summary: A debate on the issues surrounding the efforts by the IET and other organisations to attract women to engineering
Created On: 03 July 2009 04:54 PM
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 12 July 2009 07:55 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: jencam

It's really more of a cultural problem than anything else. Certain careers are heavily dominated by women with far fewer people complaining about why men are not attracted to them. I can vaguely remember reading that there were fewer than 50 men who teach in nursery or reception classes in primary schools in the whole of England. The psychology profession also shows a heavy bias towards females.

Something that has intrigued me for many years are why so many toys are gender specific rather than unisex. Even toys that clearly can be unisex are often produced in a girl's version in pink and a boy's version in a more sensible colour.


I think your earlier point about equal support and opportunities was very appropriate. Given those opportunities and support each sex will then choose the career they want and go get it. If they then start offering excuses about not looking at that career because they are the wrong sex then for the most part they did not want it enough. In any profession we want people who really want to be in it and not those who have to be mollycoddled into it.

For sure there are some good people who have made a difference and helped people overcome real discrimination in the past. However the trouble is that there are some people who are unable to see through the excuses because it would not otherwise allow them to make a name for themselves with their next politically correct fad or attempt at social engineering.

When women want something they go get it and do an equally as good job as men.

Regards.

Edited: 12 July 2009 at 08:01 PM by westonpa
 12 July 2009 07:59 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

"At this point, having read the (at some times) heated posts previous to this one."

And we remain mature enough to give our opinions but also respect those of others even if they may be at odds with our own. Well I hope so....LOL.

Regards.
 25 August 2009 02:09 PM
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amandalewin

Posts: 154
Joined: 19 December 2007

I was reading a popular womens magazine this lunch time aimed at I guess 20 to 30 year olds. There was a small artical on how this month its cool to love your job and then there is a comment from five women in different jobs saying why they love their job. If your thinking 'I bet none of them were engineers' you would be right

I'd be suprised if there are many young women in this country that didn't realise they could be engineers if they wanted to. The shiniest presentation in the world won't make young woment think 'Well I was going to be a hairdresser but now I want to design fighter jets!'

-------------------------
Amanda

'At some point we all must chose between what is right and what is awesome'
 27 August 2009 04:36 PM
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xempjutadawl

Posts: 10
Joined: 18 August 2009

The thing about engineering is you've either got it or you haven't. You can't make someone think like an engineer. I believe it's something innate that makes a person a problem solver and innovator.

When I was studying mechanical engineering it was expected that all the boys (and I do mean boys some only 16 on the NC) would walk the course and both NC's. How wrong the curriculum leader was because the only people who got both NC's were the three women on that course. The other 5 reprobates and trust me they were, didn't even achieve an award. So it goes to show that there really is no need for positive discrimination.

As Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin said "Sisters are doin' it for themselves."
 28 August 2009 02:10 PM
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amandalewin

Posts: 154
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Hmmm well I guess it could be said that girls doing engineering courses are doing them because they want to be engineers or have a good interest in them? While some boys doing engineering courses may be doing them because thats the sort of thing boys should do? It may well work in reverse for things like nursing.

Am I the only person who hates the term 'positive discrimination'? I mean what are we saying? Its wrong to discriminate unless we decide otherwise in which case its ok? At what point does the positive discrimination become negative?

If I put the word 'positive' in front of the word 'theft' then is it ok to steal my workmates tasty looking mid afternoon snack? It would help increase the ratio of chocolate muffin to no chocolate muffin in my stomach...

-------------------------
Amanda

'At some point we all must chose between what is right and what is awesome'
 28 August 2009 03:59 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: amandalewin

Hmmm well I guess it could be said that girls doing engineering courses are doing them because they want to be engineers or have a good interest in them? While some boys doing engineering courses may be doing them because thats the sort of thing boys should do? It may well work in reverse for things like nursing.

Am I the only person who hates the term 'positive discrimination'? I mean what are we saying? Its wrong to discriminate unless we decide otherwise in which case its ok? At what point does the positive discrimination become negative?

If I put the word 'positive' in front of the word 'theft' then is it ok to steal my workmates tasty looking mid afternoon snack? It would help increase the ratio of chocolate muffin to no chocolate muffin in my stomach...


Positive does not really go in front of theft because theft already implies something negative whereas it can go in front of discrimination because it can be positive or negative. There are times when positive discimination is perfectly acceptable and normal but of course there are probably more appropriate words and terms that could be used but of course then we get into a discussion about language. You will often note, for example, a clause on some job adverts that point out that the advert is not subject to the discrimination laws and so on. Also, for example I may be planning to release a virus into the world, that will do great damage, and you steal it from me to prevent its release. You would not normally report/explain it was a positive theft rather you would use some other more appropriate terms and/or words.

The original poster implied, as you know, that the IET positively discriminated in favour of women, with the award, and suggested this was a negative thing for a variety of reasons.....well other posters have added to the variety and discussions with their own comments.

As for when positive discimination becomes negative this is a relative thing in that you may find it to be negative, for a particular situation, whereas I may find it positive because it suits my interest. But with respect to the topic raised by the original poster obviously the IET viewed the award as a positive thing, and it did disriminate in favour of women engineers, whereas many replies here see it as a negative discrimination, for a variety of reasons.

Regards.

Edited: 28 August 2009 at 04:14 PM by westonpa
 28 August 2009 06:18 PM
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danielscott

Posts: 461
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I sometimes think some of these responses are from Members of Parliament, or wannbe MP's.
 28 August 2009 08:11 PM
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xempjutadawl

Posts: 10
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Originally posted by: amandalewin

Hmmm well I guess it could be said that girls doing engineering courses are doing them because they want to be engineers or have a good interest in them? While some boys doing engineering courses may be doing them because thats the sort of thing boys should do? It may well work in reverse for things like nursing.



Am I the only person who hates the term 'positive discrimination'? I mean what are we saying? Its wrong to discriminate unless we decide otherwise in which case its ok? At what point does the positive discrimination become negative?



If I put the word 'positive' in front of the word 'theft' then is it ok to steal my workmates tasty looking mid afternoon snack? It would help increase the ratio of chocolate muffin to no chocolate muffin in my stomach...


As a Registered Nurse I have to say positive discrimination in terms of encouraging more men into the profession hasn't worked. Although I'm glad to say that the male students I've seen coming through the ranks are doing a sterling job and I can only hope more of them come into nursing out of their own volition. There are certainly a fair few women who shouldn't be nurses. My goodness some of them I'd rather have abandon me on the street bleeding than have them attend and more than likely kill me. Sorry but there are some questionable types on the NMC register of which a few are in senior positions.

Anyway I digress. What I was trying to say in my previous post was that myself and the other two women on the mech eng course wanted to do it because we are inquisitive and creative/problem solvers by nature not nurture. There's no doubting that AT and EL on my course will probably become design engineers they both excelled in CAD and our actual design project whereas I was more the problem solver type, you know the one that won't go home from work until they've fixed it. Hence why thermodynamics and strength of materials was more up my street.

All I know is that you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Much the same as you can't make someone interested in STEM subjects by 'sexing' it up.
 28 August 2009 08:14 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: mbirdi

Well I must say a second home, paid for by the tax payer, with a free duck island thrown in together with good salary and top wack pension to boot does make for an attractive proposition. And you don't have to worry about satisfying any professional code of conduct either. You just make it up as you go along. "Oops sorry public, we made a mistake and we promise not to do it again. Order! Order! Just do as we say and not as we do. Now where's that Kitchen Clock and Sofa I ordered?"


Withdraw these comments or leave the chamber......LOL. Oh and on the way out do tuck into the caviar and champagne.

Regards.
 29 August 2009 01:26 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: mbirdi

Originally posted by: westonpa

on the way out do tuck into the caviar and champagne.


Did you say Caviar? I say ol' man, what sort of a chap do you you take me for? Can't just tuck into Caviar and Champagne by myself. We have house rules here. "All for one and one for all!" and Never let the side down! I'll have to adjourn Parliament for this, so we can all jolly well tuck into the Caviar and Champagne. And don't forget to put that on the tax payer's bill. Hear! Hear!



I say, my London Economics Degree has turned out all right! My ol' man wanted me to go into engineering. If I'd done that I'd have ended up polishing shoes on Liverpool St Station. Who'd pay for the Caviar then? Not ruddy likely!


Well I say I say it simply will not do and I will join you in the delights of the champagne and caviar so that you will not feel so lonely.....all in the name of teamwork. Did you say an economics degree old chap by jolly jove you did do well. To think I gained entry simply by spinning better lies and mis-directions, my manifesto promises, than the other candidates.....and to think my constituants fell for it.....LOL. Oh well I may be out at the next election but never mind the pay off and golden pension will do nicely and there is always the possibility of a place on some quango or bank board.

Regards.
 01 September 2009 10:50 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
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"See you at RBS. LOL"

Will that be as Sir Mehmood Birdi?
 03 September 2009 11:49 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
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"Naturally I will be joining the Board of Directors soon after the election with a distinguished record of putting the interests of the party before the public."

Do you mean the interests of the party and 'your own interests' before those of the public? HRM and the RBS board need to be sure you know before you get the lordship and the directors position? There must be many interests between ourselves and the public in order to keep us shielded and safe in our own cosy worlds.

Of course if things go a little wrong we can always make a few public comments in the press, like 'bonuses will be cut, no reward for failure, higher tax rates for high earners, new financial rules....and so on' and then basically we can carry on the same, all in the same rich boys and girls club, and just for a laugh increase fuel duty 2.3p....LOL.

Welcome to the club Lord Birdi.

Regards.
 05 November 2009 03:51 PM
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dvaidr

Posts: 519
Joined: 08 June 2003

Originally posted by: amandalewin

Hmmm well I guess it could be said that girls doing engineering courses are doing them because they want to be engineers or have a good interest in them? While some boys doing engineering courses may be doing them because thats the sort of thing boys should do? It may well work in reverse for things like nursing.



Am I the only person who hates the term 'positive discrimination'? I mean what are we saying? Its wrong to discriminate unless we decide otherwise in which case its ok? At what point does the positive discrimination become negative?



If I put the word 'positive' in front of the word 'theft' then is it ok to steal my workmates tasty looking mid afternoon snack? It would help increase the ratio of chocolate muffin to no chocolate muffin in my stomach...


Good point Amanda. Traditionally, many young lads did go into engineering of a sort because it was the thing to do. I've encountered 'time served' people who are very quick and proud to tell everyone thay they're an enjuneer. Some of these people don't even make the craft requisites for me.
 30 December 2009 11:19 AM
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DavidLenaghan

Posts: 182
Joined: 16 January 2002

Dear all,

I have read through many of the messages for this facinating debate. I think that it is time that we look at this from a new angle.

Imagine for a moment that the Govenment introduced an Engineering GCSE and an Engineering A-Level and made it compulsory for all students to do it.

What effect would this have at the numbers of people (both male and female) taking up engineering?

Just to get the ball rolling here are a few of my guesses to the answer to this.

1. More students would have an exposure to the world of engineering and be able to make an informed choice about their career (a good thing)
2. It would be very expensive to entice the required number of engineers into the teaching profession so teachers without engineering experience would be brought in to teach this new compulsory subject. (a bad thing)
3. Some students would get a bad experience of engineering and be determined not to do any engineering for the rest of their lives. (a bad thing)
4. After 10 years of this Engineering programme the UK will find that it has too many engineers! Unemployment amongst the engineering community is at an all time high. (a bad thing)

Clearly this extreme scenario is unlikely but it does illustrate some of the aspects of the problem discussed above.

Clearly (from the discussion above) there are three main influences on a young person when deciding which career they follow.
1. Parental influence and opinion.
2. Teacher influence.
3. Opportunity available.

If we want to encourage more engineers in the UK then we need to look at those three factors. Is this the problem that we are trying to fix?

A further direction to look in is to consider the careers that are popular and that loads of students are pushing to get in to.
I was of the opinion that this would be Medicne, Law and Media Studies. I decided to update my knowledge with a quick Google search and I found the following page. http://www.alec.co.uk/free-car...t-popular-careers.htm

I was surprised to see Engineer on the list! Perhaps we are already having an effect.

All the best for 2010.

-------------------------
David Lenaghan
 30 December 2009 01:23 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
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It is a difficult balance between trying to socially engineer society and just leaving it to its own devices.......sometimes it's a bit of the 'damned if we do' and 'damned if we don't'!

Regards.
 30 December 2009 06:18 PM
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westonpa

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I think people need to choose engineering because it is something they want to do and not because it will allow them to work from home when/if they have children.

However I guess it is a selling point which may appeal to some.

Regards.
 31 December 2009 12:17 AM
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jencam

Posts: 608
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Originally posted by: DavidLenaghan

Dear all,

I have read through many of the messages for this facinating debate. I think that it is time that we look at this from a new angle.

Imagine for a moment that the Govenment introduced an Engineering GCSE and an Engineering A-Level and made it compulsory for all students to do it.


An engineering GCSE already exists, in addition to an electronics GCSE and a systems and control GCSE. Only a fraction of secondary schools offer them and they are not seen as important or high priority subjects. Engineering and electronics are offered at A Level through a handful of colleges. There seems to be a trend away from electronics and computing at A Level towards vocational courses.

My son was verbally informed that he has two naff A Levels that nobody really asks for or accepts.

What effect would this have at the numbers of people (both male and female) taking up engineering?

Just to get the ball rolling here are a few of my guesses to the answer to this.

1. More students would have an exposure to the world of engineering and be able to make an informed choice about their career (a good thing)


This depends on the quality of the course and its content, as well as the people who are teaching it.

A course that is dull, outdated, or unconnected to the real world could turn students off engineering altogether. It is a known fact amongst students and educational critics and strategists that the three aforementioned characteristics have featured prominently in many sections of school and higher education for decades.

2. It would be very expensive to entice the required number of engineers into the teaching profession so teachers without engineering experience would be brought in to teach this new compulsory subject. (a bad thing)


It is very difficult to introduce new subjects into the secondary school curriculum because it means finding people who both have knowledge of the subject AND are qualified teachers. If the government was serious about introducing a new subject then they would provide incentives for suitably knowledgeable people to train to become teachers. Using teachers who are not knowledgeable, or have no interest in the subject, is doing students a bad disservice.

3. Some students would get a bad experience of engineering and be determined not to do any engineering for the rest of their lives. (a bad thing)


That's true. Making a subject compulsory will result in resentment from students who have no interest in it and is likely to lead to dumbing down and 'popularising' the course. Look what happened to science in schools when it changed from being an optional to a compulsory subject. Some educational strategists believe that the best strategy for science is to revert to the situation of 30 years ago with optional O Levels that are of a higher standard than the GCSE.

4. After 10 years of this Engineering programme the UK will find that it has too many engineers! Unemployment amongst the engineering community is at an all time high. (a bad thing)


Does the UK even need any more engineers?

I personally think that engineering courses need to be made better for those who wish to pursue engineering, and various bodies put a stop to this fuss about trying to get more young people to take STEM subjects.

Clearly (from the discussion above) there are three main influences on a young person when deciding which career they follow.

1. Parental influence and opinion.

2. Teacher influence.

3. Opportunity available.

If we want to encourage more engineers in the UK then we need to look at those three factors. Is this the problem that we are trying to fix?


I would include job prospects and accessibility to the industry from outsiders. If engineering is declining due to globalisation of the economy and outsourcing, whilst what remains of the industry operates as a closed club, then engineering will be unattractive as a career choice.

A further direction to look in is to consider the careers that are popular and that loads of students are pushing to get in to.


Take care not to confuse popular careers with popular subjects.
 02 January 2010 10:36 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: jencam

It is very difficult to introduce new subjects into the secondary school curriculum because it means finding people who both have knowledge of the subject AND are qualified teachers. If the government was serious about introducing a new subject then they would provide incentives for suitably knowledgeable people to train to become teachers. Using teachers who are not knowledgeable, or have no interest in the subject, is doing students a bad disservice.



What sort of incentives, other than the existing terms and conditions and chance to educate young people, do you think would entice suitably knowledgeable people away from their current career/job into teaching?

Hope your 2010 is happy and healthy.

Regards.
 02 January 2010 09:11 PM
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jcm256

Posts: 1941
Joined: 01 April 2006

The web site below is on a similar topic from Engineering UK,(formally ETB).
http://www.engineeringuk.com/_...ring_Graduates_Go.pdf

regards.
John Moore IEng MIET
 02 January 2010 09:52 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: g3xoi

westonpa,

Your post of 30 December 2009 suggests I did not make myself clear.

I was not suggesting that my idea would cause a girl to choose engineering - but that it might clear what she saw as an impediment to taking it up if she wanted to.

I am sure my English Master will be spinning in his grave like the impeller in a jet engine because he thought he taught me, in the nineteenforties, to write clear, unambiguous English

mea culpa


In all your years of experience have you found that women see the possible career break as an impediment to taking up engineering?

If your English Master is spinning as you say he is not going to be in that grave for long....... However that aside I am sure he is more than happy with how his former student turned out.

Felix sit annus novus.
IET » Savoy Place Virtual Club » Positive discrimination towards women in engineering

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