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Women’s Role in Engineering Research Paper


Introduction

For many years now, women have been pushed to the periphery when it came to joining various careers. This has been as a result of restrictions that were imposed on women, thus hindering their upward mobility. On the same note, there have been different types of discrimination directed towards women. Whenever engineers are named, people expect them to be only men.

This is because of the few women engineers that are available currently. Many engineers known in history are men. Women are expected to join other careers, including human resource management. However, it should be known that women can also make good engineers if they are given the opportunity. There are various issues which have limited the chances of women succeeding, and our society has helped in propagating them.

Genetics

Many people have a conviction that men are naturally meant to be good in mathematical subjects while women are poor in these subjects. For a person to successfully learn this discipline, especially high-level mathematics, there is a special type of memory that should be developed. While this spatial memory is known to be present in men, many people argue that it is absent in women.

Unfortunately, engineering and other heavy science careers require deep knowledge of mathematics (Banya 72). Consequently, women find it difficult to join these careers. Their abilities are limited by nature, and they do not do as good as their male counterparts. It is for this reason that many people argue that women are biologically not meant to be engineers.

Masculine Supremacy

There have been masculine supremacy in the engineering field with men dominating almost in all sections. In this regard, the need to maintain the status quo has kept women out of the question whenever selection was done.

The historical dominance of men in the engineering field has discouraged women from venturing into this career for fear of mistreatment. The engineering field is looked at as a special area which requires not only the use of muscles but also a dirtying job which does not fit women.

Consequently, many women are reluctant to take up such careers.

Moreover, many people are less likely to hire a woman engineer if she attends an interview competing with men. Lack of the surety of securing a job after college also discourages women from joining the career (Hutchison 94).

Furthermore, the engineering sector has been taken to be a demanding masculine field which requires somebody who has enough time to execute his or her roles. Unfortunately, society takes women as people who should take care of children and thus do not have enough time for engineering careers.

Culture, Gender and Social Issues

Arguably, culture plays a crucial role in a person’s life. It is our culture which defines what we hold as being right or wrong. The socialization process through which a person is taken during his or her growing up determines what the person will be willing to do.

Notably, culture not only molds what a person will think but also the behavior of the person. In many cultures, women are taught that men should always do masculine jobs, while women should engage themselves in easy and feminine chores (Lambert 187).

Moreover, many societies take sciences and mathematics to be subjects of men, while languages and humanities are for women. Consequently, young girls are brought up knowing that sciences and mathematics are for men. They do not change their mindset, and this hinders their success in these subjects.

Additionally, most societies are patriarchal with men dominating almost every sector. Women are taught to respect men and not to compete with them. As a result, women are not allowed to carry out duties that are meant for men (the United States. Congress House 43).

Similarly, women are not supposed to behave in a manner that will portray them as trying to outdo men. In this regard, women are discouraged from joining engineering courses because this will be like competing with men.

Moreover, many men will not be willing to marry successful ladies, especially those in the fields that are taken up being male careers (Bittman 21). Therefore, young ladies do not want to join engineering courses lest they risk not getting married.

There is a great difference in what women are expected to do to advance their participation in engineering and what the society teaches them. Many young girls are brought up knowing that there are roles specifically for men. These social definitions discourage women from even thinking of joining the field of engineering. In America, for example, engineering has for long been associated with white men.

All the historical advancements recorded were arguably done by white men. As a result, women and other minority groups are alienated. White men are struggling as much as they can to maintain their status quo for as long as they can.

The social mechanisms are thus put in place as regards the fields of engineering are tailored to work against women (Malmberg 57). This has also led to stereotypes that women cannot perform well in sciences further diminishing the possibility of women succeeding.

Moreover, our society still emphasizes that men are the breadwinners of the family. It is naturally expected that when women are married, they have to dedicate their time to taking care of the family. Consequently, men are expected to work harder to provide for the family. This indirectly implies that men should do the difficult duties to earn enough money while women can do easy tasks because all they need is money for upkeep.

On the same note, the social expectations of women do not leave them with the opportunity to succeed in some areas (Holmes 134). According to the roles given to women based on their gender, they are expected to constantly take care of the children and other household chores, whether they are employed or not.

They, therefore, face a lot of challenges trying to balance time between household chores and their professional work. For careers like engineering which require a substantial portion of one’s time, success becomes elusive. This also contributes to the failure of women in engineering.

Lack of Role Models

Notably, people always enhance their performance in various aspects of life, depending on whether they have good role models or not. Lack of a good role model limits the chances of a person working hard, given that nobody gives this person morale. As it regards women in engineering and other science careers, they do not have people who have succeeded in this field and are happy.

Those that are in the careers always talk of how difficult it is to succeed in this field. As a result, women who would have wanted to join the field get discouraged. The scarcity of women in the engineering field is thus a reason as to why there is a continued decrease in women engineers (Lambert 156).

Even at engineering classes, many lecturers are men because of the long-standing inequality. This sends a wrong signal to female students that excelling in this field is a hard nut to crack.

Existing Workplace Inequalities

Women are treated differently from their male counterparts at workplaces. To begin with, more people are willing to hire male engineers than women. As a result, securing a job becomes a problem once one has completed her degree in engineering.

Similarly, the starting packages for women engineers are lower than those offered to men at the same level. This brings about unfair competition with men most likely to succeed as engineers than women. Realizing this, many women find it unworthy fighting in the same field where everything possible is done to deter them from succeeding.

On the same note, a woman will only be employed if she proves to be far much better than the men who apply for the job. Though most managers will not agree to the fact that they will rather employ a man than a woman, it has been proved that more men than women will be considered for a given post (Micari & Denise 297).

Anybody in the interview panel will have to justify his or her decision to hire a woman before it is accepted. Additionally, there are fewer chances for women engineers to climb up the ladder leaving many who have dared to join the field beginners forever. As a result, women get demoralized to join engineering.

Discrimination

Though many people do not think that discrimination is not possible in these days and age, the fact is that there are some actions which are discriminatory. Many women who have been asked about their experience in the engineering career do not acknowledge that discrimination is there. However, there are those who admit discrimination, especially at the college level.

Men usually make sexist jokes directed towards women showing them that they cannot possibly compete with men in this field. However, it is important to note that it is rare for discrimination to be noticed, given that it is very subtle (Bittman 56). In a certain organization, secretaries will favor men engineers by carrying out tasks involving them faster while female engineers have to wait longer (the United States. Congress House 52).

Moreover, women engineers are not taken seriously by some clients who insist that their jobs have to be done by male engineers. This complicates the issue of career building for women. There are even some people who argue that the emotions of women dominate their arguments. Some women have also complained about being mistaken about becoming secretaries in companies where they work.

Lack of Self Confidence

Many women have been brought up in societies where the supremacy of men in science subjects is a common thing. As a result, women develop a phobia of mathematics and sciences from a very young age. It is important to note that confidence in these subjects is vital in selecting engineering courses (Hutchison 48).

As a result, when the time comes for one to choose his or her career course, women tend to run away from courses that have a lot of mathematics and sciences. The fear for these subjects is carried even in colleges after some female students have joined engineering courses causing a higher dropout rate in women than in men.

Though it has been argued that the self-confidence of women in engineering courses is reduced by the poor performance of girls in mathematics and sciences, evidence shows a different story (the United States. Congress House 75). In scenarios where both male and female students had the same grades in these subjects, female students had less faith in themselves regarding their ability than their male counterparts (Banya 94).

Similarly, women are very skeptical about whether they can complete a scientific duty. They consider themselves weaker than men in executing various chores in engineering.

Lack of confidence from very earlier ages also contributes to low enrollment rates in college. Engineering requires one to pass in mathematics and science subjects. However, many women do not take up this subject seriously in high school, thus barring them from joining engineering courses.

Moreover, women do not enjoy taking part in engineering experiences outside class, which gives men a head start. Men like taking part in activities that involve machines and thus gain early experience in engineering compared to women.

Fewer Media Coverage

Media plays a vital role in enhancing the perception of people on various issues in society. Whatever media focuses on gets to be known among many members of society. In various scenarios, media depicts engineering as a male-dominated job, and all successful engineers that are interviewed are men (the United States. Congress House 114). Even when producing movies, all engineering roles are assigned to men with women only given supporting roles.

This helps in confirming the stereotypes that only men can succeed in engineering. Prominent women engineers rarely get publicity in many media platforms.

The men who are featured as being engineers, especially in movies, are always well built and masculine (Azar 40). The message that goes to the society is that engineering is meant for men only. As a result, women do not find any encouragement to venture into the engineering field.

Way Forward

Women should be encouraged to join engineering and succeed. There is no proof that men are genetically better placed than women as it regards to success in engineering. The idea that women are poor in mathematics and sciences is misplaced. There are women who have proved men wrong by joining engineering and doing better than men.

In this regard, women should be taught from the moment they join a school that they can perform well in any subject. On the same note, it is high time that media began highlighting she cess of women in engineering and other careers that are taken to be specifically for men. The notion that there are careers for men and others for women should be eliminated. Young girls should be well prepared to take any career just as boys.

Conclusion

Women have tried to venture into various aspects of society that were generally reserved for men. It should be noted that some of these women have been more successful than men. Nowadays, we have women lawyers, pilots, and geographers contrary to what it used to be in the past.

Despite this, women have not made good progress in engineering. Fortunately, the factors that hinder the success of women in engineering and other scientific careers are not beyond our control. Women can still start and make it in engineering. It will just take a change of mind and some social adjustments to have successful women scientists.

Works Cited

Azar, Beth. Math + Culture = Gender Gap? American Psychological Association 41.7 (2010): 40. Print.

Banya, Santonino K. Study of Factors Affecting Attitudes of Young Female Students Toward Chemistry at the High School Level. City: Universal-Publishers, 2004. Print.

Bittman, Andrea Y. Exploring Factors That Promote or Hinder the Career Productivity of Academically Gifted Female International Olympians in the Disciplines of Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. Ann Arbor: Proquest, 2008. Print.

Holmes, Vanessa M. Critical Factors Affecting African American College Completion at Two Selective Research Institutions. Ann Arbor: Proquest, 2007. Print.

Hutchison, Mica A. Factors Affecting the Self-efficacy Beliefs of First-and Second-Year Engineering Students. Ann Arbor: Proquest, 2007. Print.

Lambert, Amber D. Women in Engineering: The Gendered Effects of Program Changes, Faculty Activities, and Student Experiences on Learning. Ann Arbor: Proquest, 2008. Print.

Malmberg, Erik D. Factors Affecting Success of First-Year Hispanic Students Enrolled In a Public Law School. Ann Arbor: Proquest, 2008. Print.

Micari, Marina and Denise Drane. “Promoting Success: Possible Factors Behind Achievement of Underrepresented Stu­dents in a Peer-Led Small-Group Stem Workshop Program.” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 13.3 (2007): 295-315. Print.

United States. Congress House. Fulfilling the potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act of 2008: Hearing before the subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Memphis: General Books, 2012. Print.

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