Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

The Aspects Of The Engineering Profession Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2188 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

Unfortunately the problems facing women in engineering are numerous. The female sex is widely seen as inferiors to the superior male sex. This has ultimately resulted in the world’s longest running battle, the battle of the sexes.

“Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not hard to do.” (Charlotte Whitton)

This ‘battle’, along with many other obstacles, has resulted in major problems for women with regards to employment, social standing and indeed many other areas. This is especially true in respect to a career in engineering, a challenging and non-traditional occupation for women. Due to the growth of jobs in engineering and the high salary it offers, whether and how well it accepts women into its ranks is an important social issue. Engineering provides the possibility of significant career opportunities for college educated women, thereby helping to improve women’s status in the workforce.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

This report identifies the factors that impede and facilitate the success of women in engineering. The report is broken down into five parts. Firstly, the background to the problem is discussed (part 1) followed by the age old question “Are Women Better?” (Part 2). Part 3 discusses the factors that impede the success of women in the engineering profession and in contrary to that part 4 will demonstrate the factors encouraging the participation and success of women in engineering. Finally the accomplishments of female engineers will provide proof that women are just as capable for this job as men (part 5).

Overall this report will show the problem that women face in the engineering profession and prove that the attitude towards female engineers is unjustified.

1. Background to the problem

To become an engineer in 21st century Ireland one must achieve over 400 points in the Leaving Certificate Examinations, achieving a minimum grade of a C3 in Honours Level Mathematics, complete a degree in college and continue in college to do a PHD and Master’s Degree to become a Chartered Engineer. Male and female applicants are accepted into the profession however equal numbers of males and females apply to study engineering. Male applicants greatly outnumber female applicants. The roots of this problem stem from Roman times where the male was the head of the family and only male children were educated whilst the female children stayed at home and learned to sew with their mothers. It was the accepted norm that a women’s place was at home, there are those in the 21st century who still agree with this. In the 1600s women still had not found their place in the workforce as men dominated the positions of authority and preferably hired men. It was unheard of for a woman to contemplate a career in engineering. By the 1700s women had succeeded in finding employment however, as men still held all the positions of authority, if a women wanted to become an engineer the best that she could hope for was to become his receptionist or secretary. There was also an extravagant difference in salaries as women were being paid significantly less for doing the same job as men. Finally in 1792 women began to demand their rights and demand equality as Wollstonecraft published her most famous work “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”. The title reflects a legitimate response to many revolutionary supporters of the time who were urging the establishment of universal rights.

2. Are Women Better?

Figure 1C:UsersLaurainePicturesgraph.gifAs the battle of the sexes rages the age old question has yet to be answered. Are men better than women? In the demanding and challenging career of engineering the answer to why women are treated as inferiors and have problems in the occupation would be elementary if they were in fact the inferior sex. However judging this years and previous years Leaving Certificate Examination results, this theory is proved invalid as girls continue to outperform their male counterparts in the exam. At higher level, out of 38 subjects examined girls achieved consistently more As and Bs in all but 4 areas. Only in maths, applied maths, construction studies and agricultural science did male candidates do better. Girls favour languages and subjects like biology or art while boys are more likely to opt for technical subjects such as construction studies. As figure 1 shows women are apparently the smarter sex.

3. Impeding factors

There are many factors which impede the success of women in engineering and cause a deficiency of women in the profession. These factors have been around for years and the most worrying fact is that it is quite possible that they will be present in years to come.

3.1 Unequal pay

On average women are paid 17% less than men. In reality the pay gap, although it is decreasing still largely exists. This is because we still have women’s oppression. Although there have been immense changes in the past few decades within women’s and men’s lives, women are still oppressed. The main reason for this oppression is that women are still seen as the primary caretakers of children. It relates, again, to Roman Times where the place of the women was in the home. In the 21st century the women of the house takes care of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and of course tending to the care of the children and the elderly. To employ someone to do all this unpaid work would cost over $60000 per year. Due to this unpaid work women are more likely to work part time and so do not reach the same levels in their professions as men. The study in Figure 2 focused on U.S. residents who were employed full-time as engineers, these included approximately 1.5 million college graduates of all ages in 16 engineering occupations. Within this population the median

Figure 2Figure 2. Relationship between years since first baccalaureate and median salary of U.S. engineers employed full-time, by sex: 1995salary for women was 13% less than the median salary for men. Therefore, according to the results, women in engineering earn 87cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

3.2 Maternity Leave

In the engineering profession you must adapt to changing circumstances in order to learn and grow as an engineer. As women take periods off work due to maternity leave the fast pace occupation of engineering does not slow down and certainly does not wait for them. As thousands of college students graduate every year engineers are constantly forced to push themselves further. Having to leave to start a family results in women not reaching the same heights in engineering as men. Although it is against constitution it is not uncommon for employers to prefer men employees rather than women, particularly in women between the ages of 25 and 35 as they are likely to go on maternity. For this reason men are considered the ‘safer’ and more logical option for employment. Another result of maternity leave is that women very often do not return to work afterwards. Again this decreases the amount of women in engineering and also decreases the amount of women in positions of authority. Figure 3 shows the figures foe the amount of women returning to work after maternity leave. As part time work allows mothers to work and take care of kids a larger percentage returned to work part-time. However the figures decrease rapidly for full time

Figure3positions and although the amount of women who resigned are quite low in an occupation such as engineering where women are few these small percentages make a big difference. http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/annual-reports/ead/2007/images/women-parental-leave.gif

3.3 Sexism and stereotypes

Sexism can be toxic in workplaces where women are traditionally targets of discrimination. It is clear that women are a minority in the engineering profession. When males display sexual interest they tend to adopt a domineering posture. As female engineers are generally outnumbered this unwanted interest can result in women becoming isolated and uncomfortable in the workplace. On top of the pressure of trying to impress colleagues and employers women face an extra hurdle in the engineering profession. As many believe that women simply cannot do as well as men in engineering female engineers are constantly being evaluated and very often their performance is taken as a stereotypical reflection. A poor performance could provide evidence for the theory that men are actually better engineers. The stereotype threat is evident from the early stages of engineering as male students outnumber female students in the engineering courses in the majority of colleges. Figure 4 proves this theory and shows the distribution of men and women in college. Still in the 21st century there are certain professions that are considered for males only. DESCRIPTIONFigure 4

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRz84EQSDOz6YM8gk0KypbydcVDufOef8YLEgObckJ_WWfVmYE&t=1&usg=__Gb7045b7AAgXUzvKVhPR6lqFVA8=4. Counteractive Measureshttp://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRz84EQSDOz6YM8gk0KypbydcVDufOef8YLEgObckJ_WWfVmYE&t=1&usg=__Gb7045b7AAgXUzvKVhPR6lqFVA8=

Women in Engineering Program

The figures in Figure 4 show that only 22% of college graduates in engineering were women. Fortunately there are efforts in place to improve this number. There is an existing knowledge base that can and should be used to address this issue, however much is left to be learned. While work needs to be done to help more young women to become interested in engineering as a career, work also needs to be done to keep young women in engineering through college and beyond. One such effort to entice women into engineering is the introduction of grant and scholarship schemes as follows:

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Programs to Encourage Middle School Girls in Engineering conducted by engineering educators and others that encourage them to prepare for and undertake careers in engineering. The Foundation is particularly interested in new programs or modules, which, if they are found to be effective, will be continued within the applying institution(s). These programs supported by the Foundation are expected to test their effectiveness, to examine program impact on participant educational and career plans and on their SMET participation and achievement. Grants may be made for up to three years and are expected to range between $5,000 and $15,000 per year.

Programs designed to improve the retention rate of undergraduate women in engineering. These may cover such diverse areas as classroom, climate, learning behaviours, classroom pedagogies and academic and social support programs. It is expected that the programs will examine their impact on SMET achievement. Grants are expected to range between $5,000 and $25,000 per year.

Women in Engineering and Computer and Information Science Awards are made available through the National Science Foundation. These graduate fellowships are provided for women studying in a program in math, science, engineering, or computer science

The Scholarship SFI Scholars will receive:

-An annual award of €2,000 administered through their host institution

-A DELL notebook computer

-The assistance and support of an active researcher as a mentor throughout their undergraduate career

-At least one funded summer research-internship in an academic research laboratory or an industry R&D laboratory in Ireland.

5. Women who have lit the way

Being elected to the National Academy of Engineering or NAE is one of the highest honours that can be given to an engineer. In 1965, Lillian Gilbreth became the first woman engineer elected to the NAE. In 1973, Grace Hopper became the second woman engineer elected. Mildred Dresselhaus was the third woman engineer elected in 1974. Betsy Ancker-Johnson was the fourth woman engineer elected to the NAE in 1975. To date, 2,330 male engineers have been elected to the NAE since 1964 compared to the only 37 women engineers that have been elected. There is no doubt that if more women were as intrigued by the engineering profession as these women were that women would have the same amount, if not more, places in the National Academy of Engineering.

6. Conclusion

Although the counteractive measures above have been effective in some way the stereotypical barrier has not yet been broken and still in the 21st century engineering is regarded as a man’s job. This report has demonstrated that women are equal in intelligence to men and are excelling in state examinations and even with minimal numbers there have been 37 women elected to the NAE which is an achievement in itself. Therefore this report has proven that the attitude towards female engineers is unjustified and that they deserve their place in the engineering profession.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: