Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More women students choose engineering - but not as a career

18.01.2007
While more women today are studying engineering, many use it as a launch base for a variety of other careers, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Government initiatives encourage women into what has been regarded as a tough, heavy and dirty profession, but they are often turned off by the teaching and learning methods used in higher education, says the study led by Professor Barbara Bagilhole, of Loughborough University.

As a result, rising numbers of women engineering students have failed to translate into an equivalent increase in those taking up the profession for a living. The study, which involved finding out students’ views before, during and after an industrial placement, throws light on the experiences of women in a largely male-dominated environment, and the strategies they adopt for coping.

Some were at a post-1992 university, and more likely to be mature or part-time students. They had different experiences and priorities to the mostly post A-level undergraduates at the other establishment involved, a pre-1992 university. The researchers found that women students had identified engineering degrees as a good basis for a variety of career paths. However, they found that the most useful skills on transferring to the workplace were practical and generic ones.

Indeed, students of both sexes were critical of content, assessment methods, and emphasis on theory in their college courses, and wanted instead a more practical and relevant curriculum. The study says that the transition from education to work can be difficult for students in terms of adjusting to the practicalities and routines of work, as well as the workplace culture. Industrial placements can ease this process, and help women engineering students make choices about their careers.

Professor Bagilhole said: “Women adopt a variety of strategies for coping both as an industrial placement student and in a male-dominated environment. These include acting like one of the boys, accepting gender challenges, building a reputation and downplaying any disadvantages in favour of advantages”.

“Overwhelmingly, women found that, both in the engineering classroom and workplace, their gender was, unwittingly, likely to ensure that they received more help than their male counterparts. On the negative side, this indicates that women are widely viewed in engineering as less capable than their male counterparts.”

Women perceived themselves to be more employable as a result of their gender, and felt that companies were trying to recruit more females in order to improve their image.

Professor Bagilhole said: “A drive to recruit more women into the industry is commendable, but this has had the effect of making them wonder whether they have been employed for their capabilities or their gender.

“Alternatively, this has also led women to believe - possibly falsely - that engineering workplaces would be equitable for women, posing the question of whether ‘getting in’ is the same as ‘getting on’ in these industries.” Women students were found to value their status as a ‘novelty’ in engineering, and held traditionally stereotypical views of women outside the profession.

Professor Bagilhole commented: “These attitudes may be a result of their assimilation into the industry culture, and they do little to further women’s causes in engineering.”

Annika Howard | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk
http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>