Focus on the Opportunities not the Barriers to Women in Engineering

Growing up I was inquisitive. How did things work? Could I take them apart and fix them when they didn’t? I also loved cars an unusual love you might say for a girl, but that’s where it all goes wrong at an early age the stereotypes are still there. When I was in school girls were encouraged to do cookery, art and textiles while the boys got the woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing. Although I feel that things are moving on thankfully and the encouragement into technology has improved I do not believe it starts early enough.

Unfortunately when I got to University the boys were far ahead of me in Technical drawing and I faced “go home girls don’t do this subject” that is when I became more determined than ever to achieve what I wanted,(I also gained support from fellow students and got a distinction). That is also why I want to become more involved in getting role models out there for women, these issues of behavior, expectation, society and even self- esteem are ever present but faced together the confidence will grow and young women will feel more comfortable going into these roles.

Women are a major source in our society and could be a huge force in shaping the role of Engineering in the Technology revolution. They are experts at multi-tasking, building strong teams, nurturing the important factors in society, therefore inherently practising effective management and leadership styles. I am not stating that every woman is a born leader I just want this massive source of skill used effectively by companies. It may force a rethink in the reasons why women are not chosen e.g we will get married, have children and leave, women aren’t interested in engineering, women do not fit in with the culture.

“Women want satisfying careers, and full lives, and in demanding this they are recognising and contributing to the important issues facing us today.”  Tweet This!

Don’t focus on the barriers. After stating all of this I do feel that there is too much focus on the negative barriers to women in Engineering, if we dwell too much here we will miss all the brilliant opportunities out there. I don’t think that the Engineering community can change this outlook alone we need to engage in the help of media, education, mentors, government, and visibility in the accomplishments of engineering in society.

Women want satisfying careers, and full lives, and in demanding this they are recognising and contributing to the important issues facing us today. It is the attitudes that will impact on how effective this is both from individuals and of the inspiring new graduates that we need to seek out and mentor. I would like to share something I read from Sheila Widnall (Former secretary of the air force & professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) who I came across quite by chance, I feel it highlights why sometimes women don’t persevere; she states:

“We must recognize that women are differently affected by a hostile climate. Treat a male student badly and he’ll think you’re a jerk. Treat a female student badly and she will think you have finally discovered that she doesn’t belong in engineering. It’s not easy being a pioneer. It’s not easy having to prove every day that you belong. It’s not easy being invisible or having your ideas credited to someone else.”

I think it’s the constant battle that affects our careers and stifles our drive. For this reason we need the ongoing women communities and support to succeed.

White-Tiger Creating Structure for Growth

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Quality Director: Angela Fumpson



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