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.”
Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering
Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy