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Confused math or engineering?

  1. Sep 14, 2011 #1
    I'm in my second year in University studying mathematics. I really like math, and people are telling me to go into engineering instead due to the better career opportunities. I have considered engineering before but i'm not sure if I will like it because it's more hands-on and I don't think i'm too good with that. Also, i'm a girl, and I know most engineers are males so the work environment may be a bit uncomfortable? How do I know if i'm the "engineering-type"? I'm really confused about what to do right now... :confused:

    I want to know how the work environment for an engineer is? Also, would it be a good idea for me to change majors? I mean, what are the career opportunities out there for a math major?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2011 #2
    If you like real math, like pure math or even rigorous applied math, alot of engineering will seem very boring to you IMO. If you have no experience with hands on stuff engineering is even more difficult; deriving equations is easier than making real world projects like a custom built power system work.
  4. Sep 14, 2011 #3
    Not to sound crass but aren't most math majors guys as well?
  5. Sep 14, 2011 #4
    @clope: thanks for the insight, I guess you're right

    @Zen: Well not sure, but engineering is known to be male-dominated, especially in the workforce.
  6. Sep 14, 2011 #5
    No, math is drawing close to achieving gender parity while engineering, computer science, and physics remain heavily male dominated.

    See if you can add an engineering minor. You can always get rid of it if it turns out not to be for you.

    Also, remember that many people go to graduate schools in a different program than their undergraduate degrees. For instance, there are many schools with STEM Masters programs that will accept people with humanities degrees. Of course, they generally have to take many more courses than your typical master's student since they end up repeating a significant portion of the undergraduate curriculum. It is even more common for someone with a STEM undergraduate degree to get a Master's degree in a different STEM field. For instance, a physics undergraduate who goes on to get a master's degree in computer science or electrical engineering and then a PhD in Astronomy.

    You can still wind up in a graduate engineering program even if your BS was in math.
  7. Sep 14, 2011 #6


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    Hey SMA_01 and welcome to the forums.

    With regard to the male domination issue, just stand your ground and don't let people take you for a ride. They will probably respect you if you do that, and if they still persist, then make an example of them in front of their peers. This is, in my opinion, the best way to stop idiots bullying other people. Most likely though, people, whether they are male or female, should treat you with respect.

    I can't speak about engineering, but I can speak about math.

    With math, if you do something applied, there should be plenty of work if you are competent. Statistics is used everywhere in many industries. The thing about statistics and why it is so useful, is because there is so much data out there, and not enough people to analyze or make sense of it. Think about all the data all these companies and governments have whether it be sales data or national health data. The data is growing almost exponentially, but the people analyzing the data and making sense of it are not.

    With the gender issue, I think you'll find a trend that more women will go into the sciences and engineering, because thankfully people are moving on from the early 20th century and prior history that women should "barefoot and pregnant" and "in the kitchen" kind of mentality (although it still exists). Women are being encouraged nowadays and you should take advantage of that because there are a lot of scholarships around for women doing these kind of things. I imagine some day in the future, people won't really think twice about whether segregated class of people could do a particular thing, but unfortunately we are not there yet.
  8. Sep 15, 2011 #7
    Since I'm an engineer taking alot of math classes I can sorta comment on the gender issue.

    In the math classes Im taking now (Linear Algebra and Intro to Proofs), there is a pretty decent split in gender though its skewed toward the male side.

    In engineering there is 2 girls (out of ~40 total) in my EE classes, and a couple more in my mixed engineering classes.

    But don't let that make the decision for you.
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