A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology might have the answer, as they have discovered multiple reasons why women tend to leave engineering whilst they are still at university or when they have barely started a professional career.
1. Menial Tasks
Women usually complain that during team-based university classes, or when they are doing a summer internship, they are left the most boring and non-important duties such as maintenance of the machinery and other routine tasks. This is very frustrating for them, as they see their male colleagues in charge of the more creative jobs such as participating in projects and designing prototypes.
2. Unfair Team Dynamic
Engineering is rarely a lonely profession: people work in groups where everyone shares ideas and test every single step of a process to assure success. Therefore, contrary to what many people think, engineering is a career that demands the necessary social skills to work within a team. However, women are often subjected to sexist attitudes when they are part of a group that is predominately male. They complain that their ideas are often questioned and many times not even taken into consideration.
Being a minority can be very hard for them, pushing them to the point where they prefer to quit their job.
3. Gender Wage
It is a sad reality but, even now, women still get paid less for doing the same work as their male colleagues – and it happens in almost every country. In engineering, the gap is quite notorious; in fact, another study found that women are underpaid when taking part in technical activities. Therefore, if women feel they are being paid less in the engineering field, they will probably try a career in other one that is more promising.
What to Do?
Women leave engineering for very specific reasons, but the good news is that we can all do something to reverse this situation. Above all, the UK will benefit from an increased number of people working in the engineer sector.
One first step would be encouraging young girls to take engineering careers. They are not a men’s only area, as many examples of women who have significantly contributed to the engineering field can show.
Another step would be paying more attention to how the team dynamic works throughout the education system. Teachers and professors should fight against cultural prejudices and reinforce the value of individuals within a team, without taking their gender into consideration.
There are still many things to change in the engineering world, but here at European Springs we are ready to accept the challenge! We are a company that is always eager to incorporate the latest advance in both work dynamics and technology.