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Women in Engineering and Computer Science

by I'm Awesome
Tags: computer science, engineering career, women
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mariexotoni
#55
Apr3-12, 10:38 AM
P: 56
so true!
j3141592t
#56
Apr4-12, 03:35 PM
P: 2
Your reasoning that women leave the field of engineering after 5 or so years is due to emotions is exactly the kind of sexist viewpoint that drives us away. I have been in the civil engineering industry for 6 years, and I am extremely frustrated with the sexist, demeaning, and condescending attitudes of men, and even other non-engineer women, in the workplace. Time and time again, I have been given the most menial and mundane tasks. I have even been given secretarial tasks while my male counterparts without engineering degrees are performing more technical tasks. Even though I have more experience, the same skill set, and the same education, I am paid much less and receive little, if any respect from coworkers or subordinates. I hope that other engineering disciplines are not quite so closed minded, as I am making an industry change very soon. Being a woman in the Good Old Boy workplace of consulting civil engineering firms is miserable and incredibly boring. I do work in Texas, and that may have something to do with it.
To comment on the ease of getting jobs, I would agree that women, especially good looking women, do get jobs quite easily in this field. I almost always have multiple offers when changing jobs; however, I think this has more to do with the men wanting a cute engineer to work with rather than them wanting to utilize my skills.
j3141592t
#57
Apr4-12, 03:40 PM
P: 2
Quote Quote by JakeBrodskyPE View Post
Honestly, I haven't seen anything that looked like overt or even subversive discrimination of women in engineering. I think too many women start this field, and then drop out for a variety of reasons that have little to do with the practice of engineering, and everything to do with finding something they enjoy more.

Heavy industry technical challenges (not just engineering, but also the technical and trade work) appeal to many men for much of the same reason that it appeals to boys. It's big, dirty, noisy, and potentially dangerous. This is exactly the sort of thing that turns off most women. I know a few women who work on water and waste-water plants. It is routine, dirty, noisy, and dangerous work with approximately 10% women or less on the plant floor. The closer you get to the office, the more likely it is you'll find more women.

I know women with engineering backgrounds, and most tend toward the management side of things as soon as they can get enough experience to legitimately take charge. I know only a very few who stick to the raw engineering side of things for year after year because they like it. Yet I know many men who seem to really enjoy the innovative and creative side of building bigger, smaller, or really efficient things.

Those who suggest that this is cultural miss an important point: I think there may be more to this than meets the eye.
In addition, your attitude that women shy away from "dangerous" or "dirty" tasks is rediculous. I have crawled into sanitary sewer manholes. I have scaled water tanks. I am willing, able, and driven to do all the tasks that are required of me; however, it is the men I work with that consistently try to dissuade me from doing these things.
JakeBrodskyPE
#58
Apr4-12, 07:59 PM
P: 488
Quote Quote by j3141592t View Post
In addition, your attitude that women shy away from "dangerous" or "dirty" tasks is rediculous. I have crawled into sanitary sewer manholes. I have scaled water tanks. I am willing, able, and driven to do all the tasks that are required of me; however, it is the men I work with that consistently try to dissuade me from doing these things.
If you have really been there and done that, then you probably have a narrow minded employer who is probably also narrow minded about a great many other things. It is time to look elsewhere.

It poor practice to take your particular situation and to assume that every other place must be the same. Don't judge my motives and experiences on based upon the acts of others.
clarkkenny
#59
Apr6-12, 12:34 AM
P: 1
I think I know where you’re coming from, but businesses these days are very aware of the fact that they have to bring gender diversity in their staff and try to maintain a balance between male and female employees. My suggestion is, if you are interested in something, go for it without fear!

Are you only interested in computer engineering and computer science or are you open to other IT fields as well? Many women have also carved out successful careers as programmers. If that’s something you’d like to consider, then do take a look at CollegeAmerica's computer programming degree!
jk
#60
Apr8-12, 05:51 PM
P: 148
Quote Quote by JakeBrodskyPE View Post
If you have really been there and done that, then you probably have a narrow minded employer who is probably also narrow minded about a great many other things. It is time to look elsewhere.

It poor practice to take your particular situation and to assume that every other place must be the same. Don't judge my motives and experiences on based upon the acts of others.
That applies to you as well. It is poor practice to assume that because you haven't experienced something (due to your particular demographic perhaps, or just sheer luck, or the region you work in etc.) that it is not widespread when others are saying that it is widespread from THEIR experience
NewtonianAlch
#61
Apr9-12, 01:42 AM
P: 440
If you are a man/woman and you can do what is required of you, and you want to do it, then do it. There's no point complaining because frankly most everyone's got something going against them, some more than others, but what's the point of complaining about it?

Anyhow, the issue of discrimination isn't as big as it used to be, it still exists, but if anything, we're moving in a positive direction.

Of course, my above statement applies to the general civilian workforce, and not sports and military, that's an entirely different ballgame.
Bacle2
#62
Apr9-12, 02:06 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 1,169
Quote Quote by mariexotoni View Post
women, or any worker shouldn't get discriminated against based on gender, race, or sexual orientation. they shouldn't get any less benefits than.. the white male. UNLESS, they are NOT fulfilling with the employer wants as well.

it's wrong that there is an assumption that women will be "less" dedicated to their work.

i think we're in a new kind of environment where women are now apart of the work field where it use to be dominated by men. we need a new approach to things.
I see a lot of women who seem to believe that males get a free ride, and that we're coddled all along. That is not my , nor my male friends' experience.

As to claiming discrimination, here is some data that suggests that difference in pay is justified; males are (or have been, so far, more likely to sacrifice their lives for their jobs/careers, than women. Please do show me some data showing that women who apply are accepted at a significantly-lower rate than equally-qualified men. Then I will agree with you.

Moreover, despite the fact that women are the majority in most areas in college, there are no programs to attract males. Like someone above said: life/society is unfair, and we all end up being affected by it.
Bacle2
#63
Apr9-12, 02:09 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 1,169
Quote Quote by jk View Post
For every story like yours, I bet I can find a case where a woman working in a technical field was barred from doing something she is capable of because of discrimination.
Again, I think one can argue that this is just an unfairness of life/society. Go to family court and see how fathers are treated; look how women receive much milder sentences for crimes similar to men's etc. We all pay , male, female.
Bacle2
#64
Apr9-12, 02:14 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 1,169
Quote Quote by mariexotoni View Post
that is the kind of environment we are in now- to dump the child responsibilities off on the mother. a paradigm has to occur.
Actually, the opposite is often now the case, since , in many couples, women have become the main --or only--breadwinner:

http://www.lizamundy.com/the-richer-sex/

Quote Quote by mariexotoni View Post
i think some people become too condescending on these physics forums...why so attitudey?
I don't know others, but I get tired of the constant demonization of men by the extreme feminists. Yes, women are victims of injustice--so are men.

PS: My apologies, I am having some trouble with the quote function, sorry for the three posts, when one would have sufficed. Maybe some engineer can

figure out what's wrong with the button--no lifting necessary.


Quote Quote by jk View Post
That applies to you as well. It is poor practice to assume that because you haven't experienced something (due to your particular demographic perhaps, or just sheer luck, or the region you work in etc.) that it is not widespread when others are saying that it is widespread from THEIR experience
I think the one making the claim should have the burden of proof.
RoshanBBQ
#65
Apr9-12, 02:56 AM
P: 280
Quote Quote by j3141592t View Post
Your reasoning that women leave the field of engineering after 5 or so years is due to emotions is exactly the kind of sexist viewpoint that drives us away. I have been in the civil engineering industry for 6 years, and I am extremely frustrated with the sexist, demeaning, and condescending attitudes of men, and even other non-engineer women, in the workplace. Time and time again, I have been given the most menial and mundane tasks. I have even been given secretarial tasks while my male counterparts without engineering degrees are performing more technical tasks. Even though I have more experience, the same skill set, and the same education, I am paid much less and receive little, if any respect from coworkers or subordinates. I hope that other engineering disciplines are not quite so closed minded, as I am making an industry change very soon. Being a woman in the Good Old Boy workplace of consulting civil engineering firms is miserable and incredibly boring. I do work in Texas, and that may have something to do with it.
To comment on the ease of getting jobs, I would agree that women, especially good looking women, do get jobs quite easily in this field. I almost always have multiple offers when changing jobs; however, I think this has more to do with the men wanting a cute engineer to work with rather than them wanting to utilize my skills.
I doubt your perspective is true entirely. There has to be a catch. Some possibilities:

1.) Maybe you're just not that good, so you are treated worse on grounds of skill instead of gender.

2.) Maybe your personality lets people walk all over you. That is, a man who acted the exact same way you did would be pushed around and paid less equally. Remember, salary is negotiated between you and your employer. It's not something entirely out of your control.

3.) You call your work boring. People normally need passion to go above and beyond.

So you complain about being tasked with remedial work. When is the last time you spontaneously completed incredible work -- not for pay or out of requirement -- but to expand your knowledge in a field you should love as well as to secure respect and future opportunity? My brother, for example, is only an application engineer whose job is to create guis that interface with certain hardware, install the hardware, and setup the software at the job site. In his spare time, he created a new tool that is now sold in the official software package. He has earned a name at his job as being the go-to guy for the product, a great coder, and unbeatable when it comes to any challenge his job could present him. He leveraged his contribution to secure not only glory from his coworkers but also a more comfortable existence. He negotiated terms to work from home! ("I will leave if you don't let me work from home.") Given the same personality, skills, etc., I don't think much would have changed if my brother were a sister.
NewtonianAlch
#66
Apr9-12, 03:35 AM
P: 440
Quote Quote by RoshanBBQ View Post
Remember, salary is negotiated between you and your employer. It's not something entirely out of your control.
How far is this true?

Suppose a firm was hiring x amount of graduate electrical engineers, with little or no real work experience amongst them, same qualifications. Would they all be paid the same, or are there still "negotiations" happening?
RoshanBBQ
#67
Apr9-12, 02:11 PM
P: 280
Quote Quote by NewtonianAlch View Post
How far is this true?

Suppose a firm was hiring x amount of graduate electrical engineers, with little or no real work experience amongst them, same qualifications. Would they all be paid the same, or are there still "negotiations" happening?
I could see it to be wise for a larger corporation routinely bringing in groups fresh out of college enforcing all of these workers to come in at the same salary to avoid chatter about newcomers' salaries devolving into feelings of unfairness. On the other hand, I could also see a small standard deviation of about a couple of percent of the mean still going on without anyone seriously becoming upset.

I'm sure it comes down to company policy, but in the end, I think most corporations will pay you more if you come off the right way, however that way may be, given all measurable things are equal between you and your competitors.
MojoMcGunner
#68
Jul30-12, 01:40 PM
P: 11
Wow, I've just read this thread and it's sort of terrified me... I'm 18, female and currently applying to do a masters in Particle Physics. I had assumed there was some kind of discrimination (there are very few places where there aren't a couple of idiots who don't want to work with women/blacks/gays/Jews/people with long fingernails, or whatever reason they can come up with to dislike a person they don't know), but this thread and the article someone linked earlier has given me the impression that it is a lot worse than I thought.

The main things coming through to me are that a) if I choose to have children I may never be able to advance my career to the level I would if I were either childless or a man with children, even if I were to return to work full time and continue with my previous level of dedication and b) some employers won't want to hire me in case I decide a year later that I want to have 4 children and spend years watching the Teletubbies and wiping noses whilst collecting a paycheck from them.

Obviously there would be many employers/colleagues/workplaces which don't work in that way at all, but the fact that there will be certain institutions in which I would never be seen as an equal member of staff is worrying, because it's something I essentially have no control over.

I mean, there's nothing I can do about it, I've never wanted to do anything other than physics so I guess I'll just have to see what happens. I'm reminded of something my guitar teacher told me a while ago - "the fact that you have a legitimate excuse for not having practiced your scales doesn't change the fact that you're still not very good at your scales".

Interestingly though, I was speaking to a friend's relative who is doing her PhD in particle physics right now and she said that in her experience and that of her female friends, it is possibly slightly easier to get work and university placements as a woman in physics, but when they started, men made comments about them only being there because of the fact that they're women.

Thankyou for this thread though, it has certainly given me something (else) to think about, even if that things is quite worrying.


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