Women in engineering
|Women in society|
Women are often underrepresented in the fields of engineering. A number of organizations and programs have been created to understand and overcome this tradition of gender disparity. These groups push for a greater representation of women in engineering by encouraging women to study engineering. They also help women become practicing engineers. These groups raise awareness about the issues that women face, offer a network of support, provide useful information, and host events. Recognition of both historical and modern achievements by women in the engineering disciplines is important. Success stories help motivate other women to reach for their dreams and explore the possibilities engineering offers.
The small fraction of women in engineering can be seen in academics. The percentage of women who graduate in engineering is much lower than men. Some engineering class rooms do not have a single female student in them. Some engineering programs do not have a single female instructor. This automatically limits how many professional engineers are women. The reasons for this gender disparity are complex social issues.
Factors contributing to lack of female participation
Incentives in higher education
Enrollment and graduation rates of women in post-secondary engineering programs is very important. Undergraduate degrees are acknowledged as the "latest point of standard entry into scientific fields."
|Country||% women to men||year|
Countries such as the United States and Canada have more flexible entry requirements into post-secondary education, whereas countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia may demand that students study math, physics, and chemistry in high school. Of the four countries, the percentage of undergraduates completing an engineering degree was 18.5% female in Canada in 2004 and 19.3% in the United States in 2005-06. In comparison, the percentage of undergraduates completing an engineering degree in the United Kingdom was 9.5% female in 2005-06 and in Australia, the enrollment rate of women in engineering was 14.1%.
There are disparities within the undergraduate engineering degree. Women are less likely to study mechanical, electrical, and aeronautical engineering than chemical or civil engineering. This may "reflect the popularity of environmental engineering among women."
Females are underrepresented as graduate students in engineering. Doctoral degrees awarded to women in engineering increased from 11.6% of total degrees awarded in 1995. to 17.6% in 2004, to 22% in 2008. The workforce remains as the area of highest under-representation for women; only 11% of the engineering workforce in 2003 were women.
Only 9.6% of engineers in Australia are women, and the rate of women in engineering degree courses has remained around 14% since the 1990s.
In Canada, though women tend to make up more than half of the undergraduate population in Canada, the number of women in engineering is disproportionately low. Whereas in 2001, 21 percent of students in engineering programs were female, by 2009, this had fallen to 17 percent. One commentator attributed this to a number of factors, such as failing to explain how engineering can improve others' lives, a lack of awareness of what engineers do, and discomfort of being in a male-dominated environment and the perception that women must adapt to fit in.
|Newfoundland and Labrador||20.9%||20.6%||20.6%|
|Prince Edward Island||—||—||—|
Female undergraduate enrollment was highest in 2010 in environmental, biosystems, and geological engineering.
On average, 11% of engineering faculty are women and the percentage of leadership roles held by women is an average of 9%. The University of Toronto has the highest female faculty rate in Canada at 17% and École Polytechnique de Montréal, University of British Columbia, and Dalhousie University all have a female faculty rate of 13%.
|1st year undergraduate||25-25%|
|Faculty members: professors||5%||Full: 7%
|Eng. degree graduates||18%||17.6%|
In 2011, the INWES Education and Research Institute (ERI) held a national workshop, Canadian Committee of Women in Engineering (CCWE+20), to determine ways of increasing the number of women in the engineering field in Canada. CCWE+20 identified a goal of increasing women's interest in engineering by 2.6 percent by 2016 to a total of 25 percent through more incentives such as through collaboration and special projects. The workshop identifies early education as one of the main barriers in addition to other factors, such as: "the popular culture of their generation, the guidance they receive on course selection in high school and the extent to which their parents, teachers and counsellors recognize engineering as an appropriate and legitimate career choice for women." The workshop report compares enrollment, teaching, and professional statistics from the goals identified in 1997 compared to the actual data from 2009, outlining areas of improvement (see table, right).
Initiatives to promote engineering to women
- Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, where women were targeted by a mass murderer because they were female engineering students
- List of prizes, medals, and awards for women in engineering
- Women in computing
- Women in science
- Women in the workforce
- Fox, Mary; Sonnert, Gerhard; Nikiforova, Irina (2011). "Programs for Undergraduate Women in Science and Engineering: Issues, Problems, and Solutions". Gender & Society 25 (5): 591. doi:10.1177/0891243211416809.
- Franzway, Suzanne; Sharp, Rhonda; Mills, Julie E; Gill, Judith (2009). "Engineering Ignorance: The Problem of Gender Equity in Engineering". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 30 (1): 90. doi:10.1353/fro.0.0039.
- "Data on Women in S&E". p. 4.[dead link]
- "Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine". Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Retrieved 10 Apr 2012.
- "Table 2. Doctorates awarded to women, by field of study: 1995–2004". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 10 Apr 2012.
- Scott Jaschik, Women Lead in Doctorates, Inside Higher Ed, September 14, 2010 (accessed June 18, 2013)
- "TABLE H-5. Employed scientists and engineers, by occupation, highest degree level, and sex: 2006". National Science Foundation. Jan 2009. Retrieved 10 Apr 2012.
- "The Case for Robogals". Robogals. Retrieved 10 Apr 2012.
- Myers, Jennifer (9 Nov 2010). "Why more women aren't becoming engineers". Retrieved 24 Mar 2013.
- "Women in Engineering". Engineers Canada. Retrieved 30 Jun 2012.
- "Canadian Engineers for Tomorrow: Trends in Engineering Enrolment and Degrees Awarded 2006 to 2010". Engineers Canada. Retrieved 30 Jun 2012.
- "INWES Education and Research Institute: CCWE+20 National Workshop Project Final Report". INWES Education and Research Institute. Jul 2011. Retrieved 24 Mar 2013.
- "Canada needs more women engineers—how do we get there?". University of Ottawa. 26 Jul 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2013.