Author Topic: #35 - Women in Engineering  (Read 6609 times)

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Offline monpjc

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#35 - Women in Engineering
« on: March 22, 2011, 07:53:35 am »
So I've just got to work after listening to this week’s show and wanted to jump straight in about the comments they guys have made about women in engineering.

I was totally shocked by Jeri's comments that she found so much hostility from men and that its difficult to come in and get respect - I may have twisted her words a little but this really pissed me off.

What is wrong with these engineers that they feel the need to talk down to women and have pissing contests.!? Your bloody engineers for god sake and you are meant to be working to some ethical code. What, you will take comments from your pub buddy but not a woman.! Why in my option Jeri, all these engineers that act like this then sorry but they are wrong - wrong, wrong WRONG!

As engineers we should be working to a better good, improving our designs and looking to make steps forwards. We have to have criticism and feedback or nothing will get better. All this "I'm better than you" or "I'm going to show I'm better by picking more holes in a design that you can pick in mine" is 'crud'!

I went to college with a woman engineer and saw how see was mocked - disgusting! I've worked with women engineers that have been outstanding at their job. Yes men and women are different and that’s a good thing, different views methods and ways of thinking will make our engineering practices better - cant say a industry dominated by only men has been 100% successful can we.!

I also think that despite peoples efforts and I am critical of the IET for this, "Woman Engineer of the Year" WTF.!? If we want woman to be in engineering then why are we running a separate contest for them! What they not good enough to be compared to men so need a different category.!? No, No No! Yes we would encourage woman and also kids to get into engineering but don’t parade them around with this "Look we think Women are great and look how good we are to tell you so!". Level playing field, "Engineer of the Year" - that all I'm saying!

So I think it’s about time people wised up started taking notice, this is not cave men times anymore and these "Richard Head's" of the world are going to need more than a dollar to buy a clue what they need is a good kick up the left diode!

 #EndRant!
 

Offline ChrisGammell

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2011, 12:35:42 pm »
I understand where you're coming from Paul...it's ridiculous these things happen.

But remember, there are a lot of sad, lonely and frustrated engineers out there, many of whom might take their frustrations out on women in the workplace (or otherwise). It's ok to be angry and even better to stand up against people when you see it. But it's going to happen, just like all forms of bigotry. It's important to remember that you can't control how others act, but you can control how you respond. And when people see that kind of behavior, it's important to stand up strongly against it.

As for separate "Women Engineer of The Year" vs "Engineer of the Year" awards, it's important to have both. Just not to exclude someone from the second because they are in the first group.
 

Offline JeriEllsworth

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2011, 04:45:57 pm »

My definition of a pissing contest is: (Noun) (verb) (adj) (adverb) The aggressive act of showing ones superiority by mocking or putting down another persons work, which may or may not be justified.   ;D

I feel that guys are not being effective around the work place when they get into these "pissing contests", but at least they can end it with an explosive confrontation and be laughing in the lunch room a few hours later.   If I try to end these situations with an aggressive move I'll find myself being called to the managers office to answer questions like - "Why are you being so emotional?"   "Is something going on outside of work?" 

To be a little rude it's the "she's a bitch" double standard.

I don't want to paint a picture that this is everywhere, because I've worked with more great than bad engineering teams.  I also think my ability to squelch these interactions have improved over time also. 

In my opinion woman's only events in most cases only hold us back.  There maybe exceptions where certain physical strength differences tip the table a little, however I assure you there are women far stronger than most men after playing roller derby against 6ft 200lbs women. :)

-Jer
   

 

Online Zero999

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2011, 06:00:47 pm »
 If I try to end these situations with an aggressive move I'll find myself being called to the managers office to answer questions like - "Why are you being so emotional?"   "Is something going on outside of work?" 

To be a little rude it's the "she's a bitch" double standard.
I think that's because men feel being more aggressive to other men than they do to women. If you get into a disagreement with a male colleague and you become aggressive, he won't feel as comfortable with being aggressive in return as he would feel, if you were a man.

Quote
In my opinion woman's only events in most cases only hold us back.
Yes, I agree.

By the way, welcome to the forum and hope you stick around.
 

Offline Frangible

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2011, 07:55:52 pm »
The ignorant denigration of women's technical skills extends even to the highest levels of academia.   In 2005, Harvard President Dr. Lawrence Summers suggested that innate differences between men and women might be the reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers.  He has retracted the statements, and has issued multiple, groveling apologies since then.  I'm usually surprised when I encounter this sort of thing, especially from people who know better.

 

Offline Time

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2011, 08:41:31 pm »
Usually when I meet a single female engineer I find myself day dreaming about taking a caribbean cruise with her.

I have always heard about the issues with women in engineering but I have yet to bare witness to it.
-Time
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2011, 09:14:13 pm »
As for separate "Women Engineer of The Year" vs "Engineer of the Year" awards, it's important to have both. Just not to exclude someone from the second because they are in the first group.

I have to agree with monpjc, those Women only contests are a BAD idea.
As are the stupid female geek TV shows that show that "girl can be engineers/geeks too"
It's just stupid, and is ironically helping cement the attitude that "woman are different".
Surely our society is advanced enough so that women automatically have equal opportunity in engineering? (let's keep it to our field), and from what I've seen, we are.
If you are a woman and you think you are disadvantaged in some way, then you probably are, but I'd suggest it's more likely in your attitude and perception than anything else. And as I've said, you can actually have an ADVANTAGE being female.
If you say and do the right things then you WILL be taken seriously and have the same opportunities and respect.
In general, dumb male engineers will be treated the exact same way as dumb female engineers, and likewise, smart female engineers will be treated the same way as smart male engineers.
Sure there will always be some idiots who are bigoted in some way, but that's the same for education level, ethnicity, religion, viewpoint, personality etc - welcome to the real world.

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Alex

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2011, 09:44:41 pm »
In my opinion being a woman in an industry dominated by men gives you an edge.

The reasons why there are more men in the electronics industry or engineering for that matter, or why this gives you an edge are beyond the point.

My take is that you have experienced the 'storming' stage of team development where there is confusion and everybody fights for leadership or recognition.
This would be especially the case when you are thrown into a team later in the project cycle.

The previous leaders will present the most resistance to change and questioning of their decisions. The maturity and level of insecurity of team members will determine how quickly will the team start to perform. Some will drop out.

I strongly believe that the fact you are the opposite sex is not related to the way you are initially treated; the same would happen to men in engineering, or women in textiles/fashion - an industry dominated by women.

As for those contests, the original intention is to inspire more women to go ahead an have a go at engineering and show exactly that, that women are equally good at it. http://www.theiet.org/about/scholarships-awards/ywe/
One could argue that this is having the opposite effect by suggesting that women are different when it comes to engineering, but one could also argue that questioning these contests is sexist. It's a vicious, and pointless, circle.

As a final comment, I would like to point out that it is in the countries where there is true sexism where everybody washes their hands of such incidents. In the rest of the countries, where sexism has come to mean a different thing, people get fired by remotely implying anything sexist and such incidents are quickly condemned in the name of 'corporate equality rights'. Yes, there is still sexism in the latter countries, but it is primarily down to the person you interact with, something you can't get rid of; like quiescent current or thermal noise.

Alex.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 09:51:22 pm by Alex »
 

Offline Zad

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2011, 03:25:58 am »
There are some cultural differences between the USA and UK that are less obvious than others (hang in there, this is relevant, honest!) It didn't really occur to me until fairly recently, but over in the US whenever you get a lawyer, sportsman, engineer, architect or whatever that is of Afro / Caribbean descent, they always seem to be "tagged" as a black lawyer, a black baseball player, a black whatever. I can understand the need to celebrate "firsts" and the coming of true equality, but after a time it becomes a double edged sword and starts to divide more than it unites.

Here in the UK they are just a lawyer, football player etc. What they do is not overshadowed by what colour their skin is, or any other attribute. There is still a huge way to go with racial equality here, but simply not tagging people with their colour has removed psychological barriers that I think are still well and truly present in other countries. I think the same might be the case with women engineers. The promotion and celebration of women in engineering is becoming an obstacle, with well meaning but condescending pats on the back and "oh you are so clever, I could never do that".

I believe engineers are made in childhood. I bet if you talked to the parents of most of us on this thread, they would say exactly the same about us. Always taking things apart to see how they worked. Making things, breaking things, asking questions. This is where the support for women in engineering must be, not aimed at 18-30 year olds. By then it is too late.

Personally, my observation is that female engineers undoubtedly see some things differently to men. Not better, not worse, just differently. Subtly different approaches that can often cut through a problem (or equally miss something a man might see straight away), this can act like a catalyst in a team and really boost productivity. So long as none of the men are utter idiots from the 1950s who think their masculinity is threatened by someone with a better idea. In which case, it isn't the woman who is the problem.

Offline LewisS

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2011, 04:33:50 am »
I believe engineers are made in childhood. I bet if you talked to the parents of most of us on this thread, they would say exactly the same about us. Always taking things apart to see how they worked. Making things, breaking things, asking questions. This is where the support for women in engineering must be, not aimed at 18-30 year olds. By then it is too late.

I completely agree with that statement. Unfortunately, most girls are expected to play with dolls and dress up with clothes and make up because that is the "traditional expectations" of girls. When parents begin to realize that any child whether male or female should be free to play with any toys or objects that they want to a certain extent. (hopefully parents will prevent children from playing with dangerous things as this would not be beneficial) This would allow woman to be interested in engineering or other fields at earlier ages. This would also allow men to be interested in things normally considered "feminine or gay" such as dressing up, make up, hair styling, and other fields.

Unfortunately, sexism is not just against women. It can happen toward men that are interested in things "normally related to women" and often times men are considered "gay" because of this.

I think this is completely silly. Why does it matter what a woman or man does? If they do a good job at it and it's what they love to do then that's all that should matter.
 

Offline Lance

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2011, 06:51:51 am »
We're engineers. I think the only thing that really matters is skill. Not gender, race, or any other category to which you may belong. We're about getting stuff done. Leave the pointless bickering to the art majors.

I think that's because men feel being more aggressive to other men than they do to women. If you get into a disagreement with a male colleague and you become aggressive, he won't feel as comfortable with being aggressive in return as he would feel, if you were a man.
Being as blunt as I am, I personally don't have that problem. I see how it makes sense though. I think that it's the lingering idea from an old social system where women need to be given the "light treatment". Pretty outdated and useless in modern society. What do you think?

Also, welcome to the forum Jeri.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 06:54:59 am by Lance »
 #include "main.h"
  #include <pic.h>
// #include <killallhumans.h>
 

Offline monpjc

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2011, 08:10:45 am »
We're engineers. I think the only thing that really matters is skill. Not gender, race, or any other category to which you may belong. We're about getting stuff done.

Totally my point and agree 100% - And in the whole I agree with Jeri that engineers DO act correctly and DONOT see sex or colour or anything else as having anything to do with your skill set. Unfortunately we are having this conversation because of a few idiots that do have a problem and make the rest of us look bad.

Part of the point of posting my first comment is to say "Hay - we are engineers and we DONOT all think like this.!" that nor do we agree or tolerate this behaviour and it should be flushed out.

One could argue that this is having the opposite effect by suggesting that women are different when it comes to engineering, but one could also argue that questioning these contests is sexist. It's a vicious, and pointless, circle.
Your totally right - in the same way as having the contest can be see as sexist. Imagine the IET wanting to close the contest - up raw! The contest will be with us till the end of time because it would be seen as sexist to close it. Only a campaign from women engineers could close it down, other than the IET closing all contests or closing down altogether. And that's the point, your dammed if you and dammed if you don't.

I just think the contest is a little out of date and in its time was for the right motive - to encourage woman into engineering. But I take the point that its kids that need the encouragement. My sons school has just offered two mechanical engineering options (this is good) but no electronics - none!

Last year with the support of my firm I spent one afternoon a week at a local school teaching kids electronics. There was a 50/50 split of boys and girls and I don’t need to say who was the star of the class!

I also help the local engineering club judge a school contest of 'engineering' that includes mechanical, electronics, textiles etc and I have to say that one certain gene pool is a lot better than another.

So yes we should be encouraging kids as they truly are born engineers and then we would see a equal number of men and woman and this thread would have never started.

One thing that I do enjoy about engineers is that we are willing and open enough to have these views and make them public – When I worked at a previous employer we would have been taken to HR for even talking about the problem in fear of ‘upsetting’ someone.
 

Offline dmlandrum

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2011, 07:40:04 pm »
There's a relevant Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic here:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1883#comic

 ;D (Be sure to hover the mouse over the red dot at the bottom of the comic.)

I don't have much else to add beyond that. I'm a 34-year-old returning student studying EE, and there aren't many women in the program, though there are a few. I just don't have much to go on.
Darren Landrum
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2011, 10:07:51 pm »
There's a relevant Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic here:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1883#comic

The interesting thing here is that children (boys and girls) are typically educated by women. Not only the stay-home moms, which are still more common than the stay-home dads, but also teachers.

In my country almost 99% of kindergarten teachers are female. Men who want to take up that occupation are typically put off because there are generally suspected of being pedophile. Almost 95% of all elementary school teachers here are female, too.

So it is women doing that "have a doll to play with", and "math is not for girls" thing to girls. And that is why I don't care much about that females in engineering thing, or females in math thing, or females in whatever thing. It is women doing that to women, and women must fix this education issue.

I don't think women-only contests, female geek TV, or advancement of women in business programs will fix it. But I'll be damned if I do something against those things. I would be overwhelmed by the radical feminists, branding me as one of those mail chauvinist trying to keep women down.
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Alex

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Re: #35 - Women in Engineering
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2011, 09:29:11 pm »

As a final comment, I would like to point out that it is in the countries where there is true sexism where everybody washes their hands of such incidents.

Alex.

A vivid example:

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20110326/video/vwl-tripoli-shock-minders-snatch-rape-vi-89eb865.html
 


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