There are generally fewer women in the field of engineering and this is a worrying fact. Despite the increase in their numbers within the years, they still represent only about 20% of all engineering students in the U.S. However, it can be seen that their numbers vary with the different fields in engineering. For example, there may be more women students studying chemical engineering as compared to those within the electrical and mechanical engineering fields.
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The women are also fewer when it comes to faculty representation. Since the women professors are few, the women willing to study engineering are not motivated enough due to the lack of role models. Therefore, this means that this field is dominated by the males since they make up the largest portion of the engineering students and professors. It has been determined that women generally dominate or are equally represented within other disciplines such as the social sciences and within law schools. This raises the question as to why engineering schools are generally avoided by females.
There are various reasons that lead to this scenario. People have their own beliefs about the reasons why women avoid the engineering field. For example, some believe that women are not good at mathematics or that women are not as competitive as their male counterparts are. However, the truth of the matter is that the women are performing just as the men are and they are just as aggressive.
Other beliefs and misconceptions include the issues about the women being favored due to being minorities and taking more time off as they focus on childbearing. Others argue that women are less productive than their counterparts are. However, all these beliefs are disputable. There are certain beliefs about women being more interested in attending to their families rather than to their careers. However, the fact is that many women pursuing engineering are dedicated to the cause. It is just that their efforts are rarely recognized.
Studies have explained that one of the reasons for this difference in numbers is the fact that there are subconscious expectations that are tied to gender. This is what has been referred to as gender schemas. Over time, the numbers differ considerably. Other studies suggest that women are less confident about their competencies in mathematics despite their good performances. They also feel that they do not deserve the high salaries and the authority that comes with it.
However, it has been determined that harmful gender schemas may cause barriers and prevent women from getting better representation within the engineering fields. Therefore, as attempts are underway, it is vital to make such considerations. Several things should be adopted in institutions in order to curb the issue of gender schemas. These should include workshops and the use of focus groups to discuss some of the issues of gender representation. Interviews should be conducted in order to collect data that could be useful in assessing the prevalence of gender schemas that cause the underrepresentation of women in the engineering fields.
Once the harmful gender schemas have been determined, it would be easier to tackle them one by one. This would reduce the biases and will encourage equality when it comes to gender representation in the field of engineering. This initiative would be helpful in realizing the goal of having more female students and professors in the engineering fields.