What is it like to be a woman in engineering?
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Despite the increased interest in engineering among women, there are still a number of challenges that are contributing to the continued gender inequality. One barrier that is often pointed to is the lack of female role models in the field. Because the number of women in the field is low, there are also few female leaders in engineering, which can make it difficult for new generations of female engineers to find mentors whom they feel they can relate to. This catch-22 is a hard one to resolve, as the best way to increase female leadership in engineering is by encouraging more women to enter the field. When engineering first became a popular career choice in the U.S., working in math and science was not a common career path for women. But as times have changed and the STEM fields have become more inclusive, more and more women are pursuing careers that interest them without worrying about gender stereotypes. While the fact that only 14 percent of the workforce is composed of female employees, it is a drastic increase from the only 5.8 percent in the 1980s.
A number of factors are believed to have contributed to this trend. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, many K through 12 schools and universities alike are making intentional efforts to encourage women to enter the field. By making STEM subjects come alive for students earlier in their academic career and then following up with appropriate resources at the collegiate level, women are more likely to pursue a career in engineering. However, while engineering remains disproportionately filled by male professionals, the imbalance does not tell the whole story of the state of the industry. Though less than a quarter of engineers are female, that number has been consistently growing over the last several decades, adding a large number of qualified women to the engineering workforce. As more women choose to pursue degrees in and enter the field, there is still much that can be done to continue to encourage this trend. As more women take on prominent roles in the industry, it helps to shape the environment of the workplace to be more welcoming to other female engineers.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN IN ENGINEERING
Women are often under-represented in the fields of engineering, both in academia and in the profession of engineering. If you are a woman who getting ready for college to study engineering and looking for a scholarship, then our scholarship list of “Best Scholarships for Women in Engineering” may help you achieve your goals. There are a variety of scholarships are available for women who are seeking to pursue higher education in Engineering.
The SWE scholarships Program • https://swe.org/scholarships/swe-scholarships/ • Scholarships range from $1,000 to $15,000
• Deadline: February 15 for sophomores through graduate students and May 1 for freshmen every year.
The Society of Women Engineers is pleased to announce the SWE scholarships. The program is open to full or part-time students who are entering any year of engineering school, including graduate school. The program provides financial assistance to women admitted to accredited baccalaureate or graduate programs, in preparation for careers in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $15,000 each and some are renewable.
Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Foundation Women In Scholarship • Deadline: September 30 and April 30, every year
• Award: $2,500 • https://www.developingcareer.com/academy-of-interactive-arts-sciences-foundation-women-in-scholarship/
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) Foundation is pleased to announce its annual three scholarships named as the WomenIn scholarship, the Randy Pausch scholarships, and the Mark Beaumont Scholarship. The program is open to a female-identifying full-time undergraduate student who is starting their second year or a graduate student attending an accredited college or university in the United States.
Women in STEM Academic scholarship • https://thebhwgroup.com/scholarship/ • Deadline: April 15th every year • Award: $3000
The BHW Group is excited to announce its Women in STEM academic scholarship. The program is open to Women who are pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree and are majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics during the 2017 school year.
Jane you may have heard that majoring in engineering is tough. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find getting an engineering degree extremely difficult. People who have an “engineering mind,” that is people who enjoy working out tricky problems, taking things apart and reassembling them, etc. often really enjoy their engineering classes. This is because, even if the work is challenging, it makes sense and interesting to you. All engineers learn how to solve problems, work independently and as part of a team, and design and carry out experiments. By the time you complete your engineering degree, you’ll be well-prepared to begin a career in your engineering specialty.
Hope this was Helpful Jane, Good Luck
Doc recommends the following next steps:
When you're in school, chances are everyone's on their own, competing against each other. Your grades? Curved based on how your peers do. Getting into classes or research opportunities? You're competing for spots against your peers. Getting internships and jobs? Many applicants for a few spots. In my honest opinion, this will be the hardest part of your journey. You have to understand that women are just as capable as men with their skills, but the biggest issue lots of women often face is confidence when faced with rigor. A lot of my male peers were extremely vocal about their successes AND failures! They would say "oh well, it's only a C, but I totally aced the last quiz!" or "oh, you're only on question 2? I finished that hours ago!" Meanwhile I, and the few women in my class would see this and enter an endless cycle of blame and our own incompetence.
When you're out in the real world, it will get "easier", but you will face a different challenge. You are still (eventually) competing for higher positions, but most companies rely on teamwork. Your success in the industry will be related to how well you perform on your given tasks and how well you work with a team. There are now repercussions for discrimination and in a lot of places, you are legally protected. Then, like the responses above mentioned, you won't have female role models in every step. The challenge here is to either seek out female mentorship, or (easier said than done, I know) ignore everyone's gender for a bit and just look up to whomever you find successful. There's no harm in wanting to be as skilled as Bob, your super senior team lead. The worst thing you can do to yourself is to think "he's successful because he's a man, therefore I will never be as good as he is".
Lastly, I'd like to add my opinion about the topic of representation in the STEM fields. A lot of women who do not have great experiences in engineering almost always involve incidents with a male peer. What surprises me is that we tell young women to do X Y Z in order to get them to join the field, but nobody focuses that much on telling men and women who are already in the field to be welcoming to newcomers. This is the most important aspect - retention. Know that majority of engineers love the *work* they do, and are happy just solving problems with their teammates, regardless of what they look like. My best advice is to do the same - focus most of your attention on persevering and sharpening your skills (math, science, coding, problem solving), and less of it on "what if?"s
Yijing (Jenna)’s Answer
To get there, first of all, you need have the confidence knowing we can not only do as well as the men with the technology and engineering, but can also excel in those areas. You just need find your strengths and build on those strengths - it can be hardcore engineering, product design, uses experiences, as well as project managements and training, etc.
You need also lay a solid foundation for yourself - you need to be good at mathematics, logical thinking, problem solving etc. It takes quite some hard work to master those. You will find that it is a very fulfilling experience.
Keep learning and stay current with the new technologies/methodologies. It is challenging, but because of that, you will never get bored with it. There a lot of fun there.
I am not an engineer, but I am a program manager who has been working with engineers in software development for 15+ years and am very familiar with what it is like to be the only woman in the room. Here are my tips.
Amber recommends the following next steps:
I studied mechanical engineering in college. Some of my classes I was 1 of less than 5 females out of 100 in a class. Did that stop me from asking questions in lecture? No. Be sociable, be outgoing, don't be afraid to ask for help, everyone needs it, and having a good group of friends can be really beneficial.
Now, working. I am a principal architect working in a technology field at a large finance company. A lot of times I am the only women at at the meetings. I am respectful, polite, and friendly. I have great working relationships with all of my male coworkers and have never felt discriminated against. I speak up in meetings and feel respected when I talk. Don't be afraid to speak your mind. When you can see the problem, speak out and support your opinion.
I have personally found myself working along side strongminded women as peers and leaders. I find the inclusivity helps change process and policy that may have been kept in place due to unwillingness to change. Women in any industry opens the possibility of doing things that may have not be thought due to lack of perspective.
Geeta recommends the following next steps:
Join meetings that are outside your specialization.
Skills to refine and always work on:
Be open to new opportunities that need to be figured out, unless you like the stability of becoming a master in one field.
Spend all of your time learning everything you can about the products and use cases you will be focused on
Understand the business aspect of everything you do. A big part of your job will be to help sell the vision of how your approach for a product will overcome issues. I recently attended a workshop on story telling, I highly recommend you take some training on this.
You will be selling your vision to business leaders, you need to be able to explain things in ways that can be understood.
In engineering you will meet many people that are logic oriented, facts and figures will drive many conversations, but each effort that someone works on will be the product of their creativity. Try to nurture the creativity of everyone and find was to help them find their passion.
Over many years I have also had the luxury to working with many manufacturing companies that most people may not have heard of.
Danaher Corporation for example is an amazing engineering company that has subsidiaries in many high tech industries. Dental, Life Sciences, Diagnostic Equipment, Water Treatment and Environmental products.
Please feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to share insights on various companies that I have run across in my career.
Aerospace, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Patent Law, Service industries, Technology companies are all things that I could provide guidance around.
Connect with me on Linked in and I would be happy to assist you in your career.
However, I recognize the efforts in place and my workplace has a really friends work environment so I haven't felt uncomfortable during my time working. I'm optimistic of the direction the industry is going with supporting women engineers. I feel like in the next few decades, being a women engineer would be more and more supported and encouraged on all aspects. Furthermore, I have found mentors who are women engineers at various stages of their career that have been supportive.
Overall, don't be discouraged if you encounter any roadblocks, reach out to other women engineers for help if needed, and enjoy engineering!
Take your queue from the people around you. Do they communicate in short bursts of information? Then avoid long explanations. Do they interrupt each other? You might need to learn to do that. Are they loud? Be loud. Absolutely be sure that you speak in declarative sentences. Avoid having your voice turn up at the end of every sentence. Look at the body language of the people you work with. Be sure your body shows your confidence. Sit up / stand up straight and tall.
Being a woman in engineering is the same as being a man in that it can be incredibly interesting and rewarding. It can also be very frustrating.
Nancy recommends the following next steps: