Women in engineering
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|Women in Society|
Women have traditionally been underrepresented in the field of engineering. Recently, a number of organizations and programs have been initiated in an attempt to understand why there is a gender disparity in this field. These organizations often actively encourage a greater representation of women in engineering and greater recognition of historical and modern-day women engineers.
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 demand that students study math, physics, and chemistry in high school. Of the four countries, the percentage of female undergraduates completing an engineering degree was 18.5% in Canada in 2004 and 19.3% in the United States in 2005-06. In comparison, the percentage of female undergraduates completing an engineering degree in the United Kingdom was 9.5% 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, 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. This may be attributed 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.
- 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.
- "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.