IET
Decrease font size
Increase font size
Topic Title: E&T magazine - Debate - Women in engineering
Topic Summary: A career in engineering is there for women if they want it
Created On: 19 June 2013 10:40 AM
Status: Read Only
Read the related E&T article
Linear : Threading : Single : Branch
<< 1 2 Previous Last unread
Search Topic Search Topic
Topic Tools Topic Tools
View similar topics View similar topics
View topic in raw text format. Print this topic.
 30 July 2013 08:10 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



ldunsby

Posts: 6
Joined: 14 September 2010

I was dismayed to read Dr Nike Faloyan's article, which claims that equal opportunities exist for women in engineering but actually perpetuates the engrained opinions and ideas that act as ideological barriers to women entering the profession.

Dr Faloyan states that women bring a different perspective to men, and it's hard to argue with this, but such generalisations can serve to undermine equality. Consider her statement that you won't find many women who are interested in construction, no matter how hard you argue the case. It might be worth considering that young women aren't interested in construction because they are repeatedly exposed to such opinions. Any young woman reading Dr Faloyan's article is given the clear message, by someone who should be a role model, that she can't possibly be interested in construction simply because she's a woman.

Dr Faloyan suggests that women can be persuaded to find engineering interesting by being made aware of the variety within the profession. But she uses 'repairing things' as an example of something less enticing to women, and 'environmental impact' as an example of something we are interested in. I can attest to the fact that it's precisely the pervasiveness of such antiquated ideas that can put off women who are interested in engineering. I remember specifically cutting one university from my list after I enquired about a taught Masters in electrical power systems and the dean of engineering suggested that, as a woman, I might be more interested in engineering related to environmental issues.

We should not be sending the message that some specialisms are more suited to women. This is not breaking down barriers. It is building barriers, dividing the profession into 'specialisms that women are allowed to be interested in' and 'specialisms that only men are interested in'.

Women, and even more so school-aged girls, should have the message sent to them that any specialism can be interesting to any person, regardless of their gender. Women should be better represented in all engineering disciplines simply because we are 50% of the population and we are just as capable at the profession as men, not more, not less.

I look forward to the day when I can go into work and feel that my gender is irrelevant, but unfortunately there first needs to be a fundamental ideological shift within the engineering profession.
 31 July 2013 08:07 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



kengreen

Posts: 400
Joined: 15 April 2013

I am writing here in response to Dumbold's post on 1July.

I was reminded of an incident several years ago when, at the suggestion of the then SWEB engineers, I was asked to investigate a problem in a local slate quarry which involved a badly, in fact dangerously, installed very large stone cutting machine. At first I was surprised to find that the foreman in charge was in fact a young woman but I soon had to change my mind by her very practical approach to the problem. She listened carefully to my stated opinion that the installation was unsafe and that the manufacturers should be contacted.

The reply was that it was a second-hand machine for whom the manufacturers will bankrupt.She recommended to her main office that, my suggestion of a new machine installed by the suppliers should be implemented.the suggestion was swiftly accepted and that they lost little in the way of production.

There was no question about the competence of the leadership in that quarry.

Ken green
 01 August 2013 09:22 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

EXCELLENT post ldunsby! Shame there's no "like" facility on these forums...

I get equally frustrated when it's said that men have poorer communication skills, less co-operative abilities, and less compassion than women. Labelling is insidious and it sticks.

-------------------------
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
 04 August 2013 12:04 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: ldunsby
Consider her statement that you won't find many women who are interested in construction, no matter how hard you argue the case. It might be worth considering that young women aren't interested in construction because they are repeatedly exposed to such opinions.

Have you any evidence to suggest that young women are repeatedly exposed to Dr Faloyan's opinions and that made them chose another career?

Barak Obama and Nelson Mandella were told Black men cannot be president of their respective countries. Margaret Thatcher was told a woman could not be PM.

With regards to the construction industry the reason why there are less women in it goes back centuries and thus the industry has evolved without large numbers of women in it. That in itself creates a mindset whereby the both men and women think it is more of a mans industry and where the industry itself is not set up to easily accomodate women. If a female engineer wants to work in the construction industry then she will be working with a lot of men, who are not engineers, and who will think the women should not be there, for whatever reasons they so chose. If you want equality then surely those opinions are equal to yours and so what is the issue? Amongst engineers women may well be treated as equals but of course engineers have to live in society and thus interface with non engineers. If they are so easily put off choosing a career by the opinions, as you suggest, then they are going to really struggle when they come up against the non engineers who give much stronger opinions. I would suggest that those women engineers who currently work in construction have what it takes to overcome those challenges and change minds and that is what is really required. At the beginning we need 'stronger' women to come into construction engineering because like it or not they will be dealing with some strong opinions. Over time things will change because barriers will be broken down and so at the same time the opinions going to young women will also change and so on.

Barak Obama probably hears racist comments and/or comes up against challenges related to the colour of his skin on a regular basis. However, he was determined enough to not believe the 'Black man cannot be President' comments and seems more than capable of breaking down barriers. The 'Black man cannot be President of the USA' comment has been consigned to history, by the man who instead of complaining about others instead followed his dream.
Any young woman reading Dr Faloyan's article is given the clear message, by someone who should be a role model, that she can't possibly be interested in construction simply because she's a woman.

If I am honest I do not think we can suggest all women are the same. Some young women may see things as a challenge and do it anyway and then be the ones to break down the barriers. I salute them and challenge them because they are the engineers I want working beside me.
I remember specifically cutting one university from my list after I enquired about a taught Masters in electrical power systems and the dean of engineering suggested that, as a woman, I might be more interested in engineering related to environmental issues.


http://news.thomasnet.com/IMT/...omen-engineers/


""Women are drawn to fields where the social relevance is high," said C. Dian Matt, executive director of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network.

A study by Intel asked teenagers of both sexes to read a series of statements about engineering. The teens were then asked if those statements made them more likely or less likely to consider a career in the field. One of the top "more likely" statements for teenage girls was about fixing global social problems, such as bringing clean water solutions to communities in Africa."

Bringing clean water solutions to communities is sort of environmental, well at least it was when I studied it, and so maybe the dean had read some studies/literature which 'suggested' women were more attacted to environmental areas. Maybe not of course! Now as a dean it was his responsibility to suggest all the options, be they positive or negative, so that his students could make an informed choice. Generally when people communicate with us, be that written or verbal, we apply our own filtering and biased opinions, i.e., we close our mind to other possibilities, and make our judgements and that is it. Let us on the other hand say the dean had an opinion that women should not be electrical engineers, for example, then you sort of confirmed his opinion and so he will continue with it. It would have been great if you had done it anyway and helped go someway towards changing his mind, after all a dean is quite influential in that university and then it may have changed its marketing message in order to attact more women. Maybe and maybe not of course.

We should not be sending the message that some specialisms are more suited to women. This is not breaking down barriers. It is building barriers, dividing the profession into 'specialisms that women are allowed to be interested in' and 'specialisms that only men are interested in'.


If we want equality then all opinions are equal and people should send whichever message they want, providing it is legal of course. If however we only want equality as we see it through our own eyes then of course we should then limit the messages to only those which support what we want. I think it is better to give people enough information to make an informed choice rather than just giving them just the information which makes their choice for them. Maybe we should change the message and say historically this profession has been seen as more suited to men but these are the positives and negatives with regards to this profession. The last government led many young people to believe that if they went to get their degree they would be in job utopia, i.e., would have great employment prospects, now it did not really turn out that way after all. Better to educate people on the range of options which are available and the possible positives and negatives and then help them to make an informed choice and which takes into account their own skills, abilities, wants, desires, dreams, etc.

Women should be better represented in all engineering disciplines simply because we are 50% of the population and we are just as capable at the profession as men, not more, not less.

I look forward to the day when I can go into work and feel that my gender is irrelevant, but unfortunately there first needs to be a fundamental ideological shift within the engineering profession.


It requires a fundamental ideological shift in society.

Engineering exists in society and society has evolved to how it is now, of course. We must assume, because we cannot go back in time and then change things around and see how that would have played out, that we have the engrainded opinions, be they from men or women, and the representations that we have because it was the best, but maybe not ideal, way for us humans to get to where we are now. So maybe there were good reasons for it. On the other hand maybe now we are ready for the next step. Those who want to take the next step will need to be able to listen to all the views and then make informed choices. Both genders are strong, creative, intelligent, etc., and have a history of working very well together in whichever areas they so choose to work together.

It pleased me that when Margaret Thatcher recently died and people were either singing her praises as PM or else slating her off they were doing so about the job she did and not because of her gender.

Thank you for giving your opinion in these forums. What I have written is just to give a different perspective and is not intended to negatively challenge your own opinion.

Regards.

Edited: 04 August 2013 at 12:21 PM by westonpa
IET » Savoy Place Virtual Club » E&T magazine - Debate - Women in engineering

<< 1 2 Previous Last unread
Topic Tools Topic Tools
Statistics

See Also:



FuseTalk Standard Edition v3.2 - © 1999-2014 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.