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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.