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MIT report on women in engineering faculty

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Sheetal.Pandey
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Sheetal.Pandey   3/31/2011 11:14:17 AM
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Well in India lots of girls do engineering especially Electronics and computer science.

Silicon_Smith
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Silicon_Smith   3/31/2011 2:12:21 PM
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But the ratios remain skewed as ever. The school from where I completed my bachelors had a less than 10% female students.

SandunDhammika
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SandunDhammika   10/1/2012 12:36:47 AM
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Here too , down to you, in Sri Lanka. I'm personally a Open University student Engineering student and we got female ratio around 50%. I think in future this would be change. And some girls are married too,worst some students got babies, so marriage and family responsibilities are not a problem to be a good engineer. --sandun--

cdhmanning
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cdhmanning   3/31/2011 5:24:15 PM
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I don't see why this has to be considered a problem. Of course there should not be any forced barriers to women in engineering - or men in nursing for that matter. However we should not be modifying engineering to make it more appealing to women. Is it possible to do so without changing what engineering is? Statistics only give you a generalization and women tend to be more interested in nurturing than engineering. Of course there are individuals who don't follow those generalizations and they should be encouraged to follow their choices. Removing gender barriers does not mean the same thing as achieving a 50:50 ratio in all professions. Here in New Zealand we have been very active at balancing the field. We have had two female Prime Ministers in the last 4. We have openly gay and trans-gender politicians. We have more females graduating as doctors than males. We have more females graduating than males. Yet engineering is still skewed towards males.

Silicon_Smith
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Silicon_Smith   3/31/2011 7:08:23 PM
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The mechanical engineering department at our university did not get a single female student for about a decade before a during I was there. Goes to show how skewed engineering still gets..

jelvidge
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jelvidge   4/4/2011 8:31:37 AM
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Some good points. I too believe that we shouldn't be trying to get more women into engineering purely to make the numbers look a particular way. In all walks of life where people are faced with options, some options will be more popular than others and may have different levels of popularity based on gender e.g. vanilla is a scent that is greatly liked by men but less so by women but that doesn't mean that Yankee Candle have to go all out on their advertising to increase the number of women who like vanilla - accept that some things are just not attractive to some subsets of the population. That said, if there are real barriers then they should, of course, be addressed.

collin0
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collin0   10/2/2011 4:25:34 PM
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Hi, I completely agree with you. Everyone should do what is fit for them to do whatever they are male or female.

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   3/31/2011 7:45:47 PM
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I wonder what percentage of female university freshmen declare engineering as their major, relative to the percentage that graduate with an engineering degree. My very andecdotal, unscientific observation is that there are lot more incoming freshman women starting out in engineering these days, compard to when I was in school. If most of them stick with it and graduate with an engineering degree, their graduating class will be far more balanced than the 93-95% male number quoted by Brian.

Aaron.Netsell
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Aaron.Netsell   3/31/2011 7:48:14 PM
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This is not a problem. Women simply aren't as attracted to engineering as men are....and that's OK. Men (in general) aren't as attracted to Cosmetology (Beauty School) but there's not some national drive to get more men into that profession. The doors for women to get into engineering are wide open. If you're interested in engineering, come on in. If you're not, it ain't no big deal. Do what you love.

ttt3
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ttt3   3/31/2011 8:23:39 PM
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While I agree with you wholeheartedly, it's worth pointing out that most cosmetology jobs pay poverty-level wages. "Do what you love" is great, but doesn't always pay the bills....

John McGehee
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John McGehee   3/31/2011 8:28:26 PM
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The female university faculty ratio is a red herring. My daughter's high school math and science teachers seem to be evenly split between men and women. That's the ratio she will see when she chooses her college major. She's not going to investigate the number of female engineering professors and change her major. I don't even think she would particularly care.

Code Monkey
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Code Monkey   3/31/2011 8:41:28 PM
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Despite the politician's inate desire to control everything, I don't see anything preventing women from becoming engineers. The answer to the "Where's the women" question may be quite simple: Guys just want to play with bigger and better toys.

Gary6449
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Gary6449   3/31/2011 9:33:00 PM
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There is no more "level playing field" than an engineering curriculum; Everyone takes the same classes, most of us claw our way though differential equations and calculus.. Has anyone ever considered that maybe, just *maybe* -- young women do not find engineering appealing as a career ?

mc6809e0
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mc6809e0   3/31/2011 9:57:24 PM
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How about asking, "where are the women in the unemployment line?" Or, "where are the women in the prisons?" Or, "where are the women killed on the job?"

BarbaraH
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BarbaraH   3/31/2011 10:27:58 PM
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Brian, can you cite your reference for this statement, "Engineering is 93-95 percent male ..."? I don't argue with the points that you make, but I don't think the data is accurate. 18% of the BS engineering and computer science degrees in 2009-2010 were granted to women. 21% of the PhDs in engineering in 2009 were granted to women. My source is the Engineering Workforce Commission (and via an article in "The Bent of Tau Beta Pi, Spring 2011).

DCole
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DCole   4/1/2011 1:00:57 AM
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BarbaraH, you beat me to it. I also belive that Brian's data is *possibly* inaccurate but most certainly misleading. When I graduated BSCS in 2001, the make-up of most of my classes was about along the percentages you cited: 18-20% female to male students. In the three jobs I've held since graduating, only once was I the only female in the engineering dept. In fact, at the job I worked while I was finishing my degree, the engineering dept. split was nearly 50-50! I can think of two things that might account for the numbers Brian came up with: 1.) Did they only count those people holding EE degrees? I've known far fewer women with EE's vs CE or CS degrees. 2.) Did most of the data come from defense contractors?

llswan
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llswan   4/1/2011 6:12:52 AM
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Great article! Reminds me of a NY Times piece I read last week about female MIT Professors. In 1999 Charles M. Vest, their president even remarked, I have always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception. But I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance. I find your statement - "While there are lingering issues to be sure, women faculty have a high affinity for the institution and a positive outlook for the future" - to be interesting though based on that article (@http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/us/21mit.html?pagewanted=2&_r=3&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23) It seemed to imply that there's been a bit of a backlash with women professors now having to defend their accomplishments while female students are faced with peers saying they only gained admittance due to affirmative action. Female professors at MIT also brought up the issue that they're losing precious research time because of the quota of women that have to make up committees. They also feel that they must serve as the poster women for math/science engineers, continually faced with the work-life balance question. Instead of parenthood being a family matter, it's still seen as a women's issue. So while women have made great strides, we have a whole new set of issues to contend with and greater improvement to make down the road in terms of mentoring female engineers and providing support for female professors.

Carlos1966
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Carlos1966   4/1/2011 1:52:09 PM
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My daughter is completing her Freshman year in college as a Computer Science major. She characterizes all her male fellow students as "weird video game geeks". I believe Electrical Engineering is still around 98 to 95 percent male. Physics has a few more women but not many. The number of female Math and Computer Science graduates has grown tremendously during the past twenty to thirty years. But the number of women overall in college has also grown. Women now outnumber men by increasing numbers in college. It is getting harder and harder for lower tier schools to maintain a healthy gender balance. This makes the increases a bit suspect.

aotearoan
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aotearoan   4/1/2011 8:28:19 PM
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My opinion is that the culprit is the work-life balance. Engineering as a career can be extremely demanding due to competitive market pressures. We have gone a long way as a society with regards to participation of women in the work force, but until there are real protection mechanisms in place and not just a lip service to work-life balance for engineers, there won't be a signifficant gender ratio improvement in this profession. In my view, millenia old job division is still there, women on average (even with careers) tend to take greater share in running a business called home, and men still have greater freedom and responsibility about bringing in that proverbial bacon. MIT statistic is a bit skewed - it is an academic institution, shielded from the pressures of the real world, thus able to provide better working environment in terms of work-life balance, which manifests itself in higher participation of women in their work force. I would not extrapolate anything about industry from these results.

DCole
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DCole   4/1/2011 8:51:06 PM
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Very valid point. Unless the female engineer's partner (if one exists) is will to fully support her career - meaning putting aside ego and taking on the larger share of household duties whenever necessary - her career will suffer.

Bert22306
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Bert22306   4/1/2011 8:51:08 PM
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I'm with those who basically say, who cares? If you tried to get me interested in things that are interesting to women specifically, I would be just as indifferent as they apparently are to engineering. My daughter was a straight A student throughout school, college, and vet school, including in physics and computer programming courses, and yet she didn't want to go into engineering. It has nothing to do with ability. It has to do with interest. I'd find it very annoying to be pressured into wanting to get into a field I didn't like. I expect women ought to find this continued attempt to force-feed engineering to them equally annoying. Parenthetically, I consider CS to be different from EE or ME. More like applied math. I see a lot more women in CS than in the latter two.

David Ashton
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David Ashton   4/2/2011 10:13:07 PM
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No one should be forced, or even just feel pressured to go into any field. If everyone in any field is passionate about their job, it raises the whole standard of that field. Engineering does seem to have more passionate people than some other fields, and long may it continue. Rich Krajewski (hope I've spelt it right Rich) has done some articles on this subject, arguing that Engineering is a noble profession. Other posters have argued that because of the scarcity of women in engineering, there is an "ogling and attitude" factor that puts women off or makes them leave engineering. I think that's getting less and less these days, but it's still a factor.

lrh
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lrh   4/2/2011 5:04:12 PM
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Here is the link to the UWM study as to why women decided to leave engineering: http://www.studyofwork.com/2011/03/is-it-all-about-family/

mm123
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mm123   4/2/2011 5:38:03 PM
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Go ask this question to the CEO's who have outsourced engineering jobs. What inspiration will my daughter have to be an engineer who sees her mother with experience and a EE masters degree getting laid off because US companies think it is cheaper to get the work done in India and China.

David Ashton
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David Ashton   4/2/2011 10:06:51 PM
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What inspiration will ANYONE have when they see jobs being outsourced? In the case of the US, we see a nation that proudly put a man on the moon now not giving a damn about its own people. Only when (and if) national pride rises again to a level where outsourcing offshore is seen as un-american, will this stop. Australia has the same problem, so I think does most of the western world.

aotearoan
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aotearoan   4/4/2011 2:26:23 AM
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Actually, this problem is most pronounced in the countries of so-called Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism (Great Britain, United States, Canada). You will find much less outsourcing in the countries of Continental capitalism (France, Italy, Germany). Friedrich List has had a lasting influence there - and so has their exposure and sensitivity to the Red Tide.

David Ashton
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David Ashton   4/5/2011 9:04:24 AM
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I think that supports my point, if not makes it. France, Italy and Germany all seem to have a far greater sense of national pride than do the Anglo-Saxon countries mentioned. Here in Australia a lot of the inhabitants DO have a sense of national pride but the government does not (I think the government confuses National Pride with Xenophobia). What do readers from the other countried mentioned think? Sorry, this is getting a bit off topic. Brian, you mentioned in a previous post you were looking for a young lady whom you had previously had dealings with on this subject - Francys someone? Did you ever find her?

aotearoan
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aotearoan   4/6/2011 2:27:29 PM
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It comes down to a difference between a stakeholder and shareholder type of capitalism.

Reagan.Thomas
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Reagan.Thomas   4/5/2011 2:24:21 PM
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My sister got an MAE degree in the mid '80s. She was the only female in almost all of her engineering classes at the local uni. That has changed some over the years with the smallish engineering company where I work having at least 4 female engineers from that same university on staff. Of course, that's 4 out of about 25 engineers total. My sister went on to spend her entire career, so far, at a large engineering/manufacturing company that we all know. She's now a VP of Engineering there.

mbozeman
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mbozeman   4/6/2011 2:29:04 PM
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Reasons for gender the imbalance in engineering. Testosterone in men: Men like to blow-sht up - women do not. Today the male hunter-gatherer-provider instinct is shifted to building-fixing-provider "RAWWwLLLL!!!" As an Engineer, for me, that instinct manifests as: "I AM A MAN WHO CAN BUILD AND FIX ANYTHING !" (man yell:) "RAWWwLLLL!!!" Also, according to census numbers 60% of women have children by the age of 40. Many engineering projects take years to finish. I have seen female engineer colleges who had children, lead engineering teams; and the intense difficulties and stress faced daily. Much more than male colleges. In a nutshell: Human instincts and hormones play a role in driving career decisions. PS: I've never met a female engineer who was passionate about blowing sht up!

DCole
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DCole   4/7/2011 5:38:35 PM
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???

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   4/8/2011 4:20:19 PM
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re: "I've never met a female engineer who was passionate about blowing sht up!" You obviously haven't met my daughter (a likely future engineer)

Lou928
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Lou928   4/7/2011 1:50:17 AM
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I think women realizes engineering is under-appreciated field early enough to go out of it. While men stick around and hope for next project, next manager, next customer,,, to be better. only when they turn 40s and 50s they realize this is not getting better.. :)

Brian Fuller2
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Brian Fuller2   4/7/2011 4:40:41 PM
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David, I haven't yet been in contact with Francys. But the last person who comment on that post said she was doing well. Hopefully she stumble on the story and reach out, because I'd love to get caught up.

Brian Fuller2
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Brian Fuller2   4/7/2011 5:17:48 PM
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LRH, thanks for sharing the link to the UWM study... very thought-provoking article + comments.

semiconductorjobs
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semiconductorjobs   4/7/2011 6:27:00 PM
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There are more granular statistics about women in technology from Catalyst. http://hotcareers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Women-in-High-Tech3.jpg

Charles.Desassure
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Charles.Desassure   4/7/2011 9:22:32 PM
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This trend will not change until we start recruiting girls at an early age and expose them to math and science. There are a few movement in the USA, but much more needs to be done. Keep working hard.

KB3001
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KB3001   4/7/2011 10:27:40 PM
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It's not just about role models, although this is factor. It's also to do with the way we bring up our boys and girls. Preferences are often made from an early age. PS. I am all for diversity in all walks of life, and this should work in both ways.

anon9303122
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anon9303122   4/8/2011 3:12:18 PM
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I have three daughters and one son. In spite bring your child to work days, home projects, experiments, and demonstrations, applied engineering (DIY home projects, auto/motorcycle mechanics, tuning, etc.), NONE of my daughters have shown the slightest inclination of pursuing any kind of engineering career. My son, no problem. Although, he prefers to work with his hands so he will probably excel in the trades. This thing of trying to up the female ranks in engineering is like trying to get men to go into hairstyling. Sheesh.

muddydummy
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muddydummy   4/8/2011 4:06:52 PM
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I think women are more interested in mastering the social world than mastering the physical world. That's not a criticism. It's practical. Engineering is a very physical thing. There's a lot more testosterone to it than some people recognize. Good engineering is a lot of "idea Darwinism" i.e. creating a lot of ideas and then shooting them all down and then going with what survives. It seems women often take idea confrontations personally whereas men can treat it as just part of a process.

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   4/8/2011 6:30:34 PM
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I'd say there's a huge social factor here. Certainly more so than any capabilities issue. My daughter has been involved in the FIRST robotics program for the last four years now. The first few years, the boy/girl ratio was about 50/50. Each year it's gotten more skewed toward boys to the point that she's now the only girl in the program here in her grade level. Based on discussions with her, it seems to be as much of a social pressure as anything else. In many places today, certainly in many schools, it's socially acceptable for a boy to be a techy, but not for girls. Fortunately, my daughter is sticking to her interests and not succumbing to that pressure. I hear a lot of talk about making sure the education system tries to welcome women into the tech world, but we need to do a lot more to get society welcoming both genders equally into tech. I suspect that a lot of potential female engineers are diverted from that career path in Jr High School, and that's a shame.

muddydummy
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muddydummy   4/8/2011 7:14:44 PM
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You say it's not "socially acceptable" for her to be techy. Where specifically is this social pressure coming from? I assume in this day there are no adults telling her she shouldn't be interested in robots because she's a girl, or are there? Are the boys behaving like she doesn't belong because she's a girl? Do her female peers maliciously alienate her because she likes robots? Or is it no more than that she feels awkward being the only girl? In that final case the "social pressure" is coming from within her rather than without.

zeeglen
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zeeglen   4/8/2011 7:17:39 PM
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First, congrats to your daughter for sticking with her interests and not letting others decide what she should be doing. That is an engineering hallmark and it sounds like she will go far. Long ago (mid 80's) one of my co-op college summer interns was a bright young lady who was very interested in gaining some hands-on analog design experience. During her summer stint she took a week or so to accompany her immediate family on a visit to her ancestral country South Korea. When she returned she told me how her Korean relatives tried to convince her mother to get her out of engineering, "not suitable for a young lady". Fortunately she ignored the well-meaning relatives and so did her parents.

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   4/8/2011 7:26:33 PM
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At this point, most of the pressure seems to be coming from a combination of peers and from within. In my daughter's case, it seems to be the girls not feeling comfortable in a techy environment - fear of being ostracized, as well as genuine possibility of being ostracized. From what I've seen, the adults are all for her being involved. She's just another kid to them, as it should be.

muddydummy
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muddydummy   4/8/2011 7:39:14 PM
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Sadly, I think kids of both genders are often reluctant to do things they could and would like to do for fear of being different. I guess girls in engineering is just one example.

DCole
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DCole   4/9/2011 1:21:05 AM
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@muddydummy: "Good engineering is a lot of "idea Darwinism" i.e. creating a lot of ideas and then shooting them all down and then going with what survives. It seems women often take idea confrontations personally whereas men can treat it as just part of a process." Actually, it's not a matter of taking things personally. It's more a matter of many women (not all, of course) being introverted learners, vs. extroverted learners. This is certainly true of myself. I would much rather work out an idea completely in my head before presenting it to my peers. When forced, I often feel flustered at the thought of giving what I percieve as incomplete or potentially wrong information. So, the next time you are in a concept meeting throwing around ideas, don't worry that the female engineer, whose idea you just shot down, it taking it personally when she clams up. She's probably just digesting what you said and thinking through her response. In a few minutes, ask her again for her input. You may be surprised.

muddydummy
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muddydummy   4/11/2011 3:58:45 PM
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I don't think I'm quite what you take me for. Despite being a man most of my engineering is introverted as well, meaning most of my idea creation and destruction happens within my own mind, and I'm fortunate to be in a place where I can do that. Still, what gets engineered usually has to exist in the context of something larger. And different people have different ideas on what that larger thing could/should be. That's where I see it gets competitive. I had many sisters growing up and I'm not alien to the female approach to things. It's fair to say most of the women engineers I've worked with have found me cooperative. Still engineering is a messy process. Order from chaos.

TOEKNEE0
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TOEKNEE0   4/10/2011 12:15:57 PM
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I have been getting articles etc from EE Times & planet analogue for some time and have NEVER had your problem. Perhaps you need to check your own browser and system security first

TomAtMuse
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TomAtMuse   4/15/2011 6:29:51 AM
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This research may be of interest to readers of this article: "Choices -- not discrimination -- determine women scientists' success, researchers say" "It's an incendiary topic in academia -- the pervasive belief that women are underrepresented in science, math and engineering fields because they face sex discrimination in the interviewing, hiring, and grant and manuscript review processes. In a study published Feb. 7 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cornell social scientists say it's just not true." For more, see: the Feb 7 issue of the Cornell Chronicle: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb11/WomenSci.html

Sparky Watt
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Sparky Watt   4/21/2011 9:16:45 PM
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We won't get more girls in engineering until we solve two things. Math anxiety and social pressures. I absolutely disagree that any pressure comes from within the girl. I have seen many young ladies who are very interested in the sciences. They have a good time with it and are usually better than boys the same age. They also pull out in middle school when the fear of being laughed at makes it impossible for them to accept a possibility of error, and the belief that a girl that thinks is unromantic and intimidating to the boys pressures them to give it all up for a boyfriend. By the way, I am a man, not a woman. This is observation, not partisanship.

HSchmit
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HSchmit   4/25/2011 9:15:16 PM
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The Idea-Darwinism hypothesis, and the Work-Life Balance hypothesis do not IMO hold water, at least for the number of woman students in engineering. In law, 45% of the graduating students are women. Law probably has more testosterone-filled arguments and working weekends than engineering.

KB3001
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KB3001   3/6/2012 9:52:09 AM
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A recent study in the UK showed that mixed gender schools favoured boys more than girls i.e. boys tend to do better in mixed gender schools, whereas girls do better in single-gender shools. Would All-Female Engineering schools help?

anne-francoise.pele
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anne-francoise.pele   7/16/2012 3:25:01 PM
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I would suggest that here is an answer to the question posed by the title: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4085714/EE-Times-Top-10-women-in-microelectronics Anne-Franoise

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