Women and Engineering: A Workforce Development Issue

Abstract

Engineers are critical to the economic innovation and productivity of nations through the production of knowledge, patents and technology as well as by driving sustainable social and economic development. However there is a growing worldwide scarcity in almost all engineering fields and, while the career is generally well-remunerated with good career prospects, there is an under-representation of women studying or working in engineering roles. This chapter discusses the role of early socialisation, schooling and university education in contributing to the low levels of girls participating in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects needed to study engineering and the gender disparity in engineering courses as well as the leaky pipeline of qualified women in the engineering profession. The chapter also describes a range of initiatives that attempt to address these issues that have resulted in skills wastage and engineering skills shortages in most countries.

References

  1. Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender & Society, 4, 139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arabia, A.-M. (APESMA). (2011). It costs more to lose women in science than keep them. Melbourne: APESMA. http://www.apesma.com.au/newsviews/feature-articles/?id=477. Accessed 16 March 2013.
  3. Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA). (2007). Women in the professions survey report 2007. Melbourne: APESMA. http://www.apesma.asn.au/women. Accessed 25 May 2012.
  4. Australasian Railway Association and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2007). A rail revolution: Future capability identification and skills development for the Australasian rail industry. Canberra: ARA/DEEWR.Google Scholar
  5. Australian Industry Group. (2013). Lifting our science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. Sydney: Australian Industry Group.Google Scholar
  6. Bagilhole, B. (2012). A vision for the future of European engineering: Greater gender equality and the utilisation of the skills and talents of all society. In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  7. Barnard, S., Bagilhole, B., et al. (2012). Women in engineering in the UK: Approaches to inclusion and engineering curriculum development. In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  8. Blickenstaff, J. C. (2005). Women and science careers: Leaky pipeline or gender filter? Gender and Education, 17(4), 369–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cha, Y. (2010). Reinforcing separate spheres: The effect of spousal overwork on men’s and women’s employment in dual earner households. American Sociological Review, 75(2), 303–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Del Rio Merino, M., & Salto-Weis Azevedo, I. (2012). Women’s presence in engineering in Spain: Causes and the measures to attract more women—the case of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM). In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  11. Denis, A., & Heap, R. (2012). Social relevance and interdisciplinarity in Canadian engineering education: Perceptions of female and male students. In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  12. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2008). Views of engineering students: Report of a survey of final year university engineering students. Canberra: DEEWR.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. (2010). The impact of a sustained gender wage gap on the Australian economy. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/women/pubs/general/gender_wage_gap/Pages/p3.aspx. Accessed 20 March 2013.
  14. Department of Immigration and Citizenship. (2012). Skilled Occupations List (SOL): Schedule 1. http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/_pdf/sol-schedule1.pdf. Accessed 20 March 2013.
  15. Didier, C. (2012). An ethical and sociological view on women engineers and on the role of interdisciplinary courses can play in attracting young people and women to engineering education. In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  16. Diekman, A. B., Brown, E. R., et al. (2010). Seeking congruity between goals and roles: A new look at why women opt out of science, technology, engineering and maths careers. Psychological Science, 21(8), 1051–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dischino, M., Nidal, A.-M., et al. (2009). Go for aerospace! Recruiting and mentoring the next generation of aerospace engineers. Paper presented at the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Austin, Texas, 14–17 June 2009.Google Scholar
  18. Dryburgh, H. (1999). Work hard, play hard: Women and professionalization in engineering—adapting to the culture. Gender & Society, 13, 664–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Engineers Australia. (2009). Inquiry into skills shortages in the rail industry: Submission to the Victorian Education and Training Committee. Canberra: Engineers Australia.Google Scholar
  20. Engineers Australia. (2013). Make it So campaign. http://www.makeitso.org.au. Accessed 5 April 2013.
  21. Engineers Canada. (2009). Engineers Canada. http://www.engineerscanada.ca. Accessed 5 April 2013.
  22. Frehill, L. M., Di Fabio, N. M., & Hill, S. T. (2008). Confronting the ‘new’ American dilemma. White Plains National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. http://www.nacme.org/user/docs/NACME%2008%20ResearchReport.pdf. Accessed 9 October 2010.
  23. Fox, M., Sonnert, G., & Nikiforova, I. (2009). Successful programs for undergraduate women in science and engineering: Adapting versus adopting the institutional environment. Research in Higher Education, 50(4), 333–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gibson, G., & Scobie, M. (2004). ‘Regenderneering’ the mining industry: A survey of women’s career experiences in mining, CIM Bulletin, 7(182), 54–60.Google Scholar
  25. Gill J., Sharp, R., et al. (2008). ‘I still wannabe an engineer!’: Women, education and the engineering profession. European Journal of Engineering Education, 33(4), 391–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hartman, H., & Hartman, M. (2008). How undergraduate engineering students perceive women’s (and men’s) problems in science, math and engineering. Sex Roles, 58, 251–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. HELENA. (2009). Empirical analysis of traditional and new approaches in implementing gender-mainstreaming measures in engineering and technology curricula in Europe. http://www.fp7-helena.org. Accessed 13. March. 2013.
  28. Hewlett, S. A., Buck Luce, C., et al. (2008). The Athena factor: Reversing the brain drain in science, engineering and technology. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.Google Scholar
  29. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St Rose, A. (2010). Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women.Google Scholar
  30. Husu, L., & Kosinen, P. (2010). Gendering excellence in technological research: A comparative European perspective. Journal of Technology, Management and Innovation, 5(1), 127–139.Google Scholar
  31. Jeffers, A. T., Safferman, A. G., & Safferman, S. I. (2004). Understanding K–12 engineering outreach programs. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, April, 95–108.Google Scholar
  32. Kaspura, A. (2012). The engineering profession: A statistical overview. 9th edn. Barton, ACT: Engineers Australia. http://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/shado/641Representation/Stats/statistical_overview_2012_1.pdf. Accessed 20 March 2013.
  33. Kiwana, L., Kumar, A., & Randerson, N. (2011). An investigation into why the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in the EU. London: EngineeringUK.Google Scholar
  34. Kumar, A. (2010). Women in engineering and technology. London: EngineeringUK.Google Scholar
  35. Laster, J. (2010). Unlike men, female scientists have a second shift: Housework. Chronicle of Higher Education, 56(20), A10.Google Scholar
  36. Lewin, A. Y., & Zhong, X. (2013). The evolving diaspora of talent: A perspective on trends and implications for sourcing science and engineering work. Journal of International Management, 19, 6–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Little, A. J., & Leon de la Barra, B. A. (2009). Attracting girls to science, engineering and technology: An Australian perspective. European Journal of Engineering Education, 34(5), 439–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Manpower. (2009). Talent shortage survey results. Canberra: Manpower Services (Australia).Google Scholar
  39. Mills, J., Mehrtens, V., et al. (2007). CREW revisited in 2007 the Year of Women in Engineering, an update on women’s progress in the Australian engineering workforce. Sydney: Engineers Australia.Google Scholar
  40. Mills, J., Crean, D., et al. (2012). Workforce skills development and engagement in training through skill sets. Adelaide: NCVER Monograph Series.Google Scholar
  41. National Science Board. (2010). Science and engineering indicators 2010 (NSB 10–01). Arlington: National Science Board.Google Scholar
  42. National Science Foundation. (2005). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in S & E. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/women. Accessed 20 March 2013.
  43. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2009). Equally prepared for life? How 15-year-old boys and girls perform at school. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  44. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2012). Closing the gender gap. http://www.oecd.org/gender/closingthegap.htm. Accessed 16 March 2013.
  45. ParisTech Review. (2010). Why aren’t there more women engineers? http://www.paristechreview.com/2010/09/29/why-more-women-engineers/. Accessed 10 February 2013.
  46. Ramsauer, N., Manchen Sporri, S., & Weiss Sampietro, T. (2012). Technical companies in Switzerland on the way to a corporate culture in line with gender equality. In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  47. Research Council of Canada. (2010). Women in science and engineering in Canada. Ottawa, Ontario: Corporate Planning and Policy Directorate, Natural Sciences and Engineering, Research Council of Canada.Google Scholar
  48. Roberts, P., & Ayre, M. (2001). Did she jump or was she pushed? A study of women’s retention in the engineering workforce. Canberra: Institute of Engineers, Australia.Google Scholar
  49. Rosser, V. (2012). Women in technology in the US: Glass ceiling still not broken. In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  50. Schiebinger, L., & Schraudner, M. (2011). Interdisciplinary approaches to achieving gendered innovations in science, medicine and engineering. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 36(2), 154–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. She Figs. (2009). Statistics and indicators on gender equality in science. Luxembourg: European Union.Google Scholar
  52. Šidlauskienė, V. (2008). Gendered career paths in engineering and technology in cross-national and West–East perspective. Siauliai, Lithuania: Centre for Gender Studies & Research, Lithuania Siauliai University.Google Scholar
  53. Sonnert, G., Fox, M., & Adkins, K. (2007). Undergraduate women in science and engineering: Effects of faculty, fields, and institutions over time. Social Science Quarterly, 88(5), 1333–1356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Swedish Statistical Database. (2010). Facts and figures. http://www.scb.se. Accessed 15 May 2013.
  55. Tovey, J., & McNeilage, A. (2013, February 27). Dropping maths doesn’t add up. Sydney Morning Herald, pp 1–2.Google Scholar
  56. UKRC. (2011). Women and men in science, engineering and technology: The UK Statistics Guide 2010. http://sciencecampaign.org.uk/?p=4094. Accessed 15 May 2013.
  57. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2010). Engineering: Issues, challenges and opportunities for development. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  58. Wallace, M., Lings, I., et al. (2012) Rail branding: Attracting young engineering talent. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 50(4), 483–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wallace, M., & Sheldon, N. (2012). Female engineering students: Career attractors. In A. Beraud, A.-S. Godfroy, & J. Michel (Eds.), Proceedings of the Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers (GIEE) Conference 2011, Paris, 23–24 June 2011.Google Scholar
  60. Wollcott, B. (2007). Filling the void. Mechanical Engineering, 129(2), 24–27.Google Scholar
  61. Yoder, B. (2008). Engineering by the numbers. Washington, DC: Society for Engineering Education.Google Scholar
  62. Zhao, C. M., Carini R. M., & Kuh, G. (2005). Searching for the peach blossom Shangri-La: Student engagement of men and women SMET majors. Review of Higher Education, 28(4), 503–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business SchoolSouthern Cross UniversityCoolangattaAustralia

Personalised recommendations