Why there are so few women engineers [Comic]

So what do you think, geeks? Is this one of the reasons there are so few women engineers?

[Source: SMBC]

24 Responses to Why there are so few women engineers [Comic]

  1. As one of the few female engineers.. I will say they are few because many of us have to put up with a sexist environment within the workplace and while training. While I was training not only did I have to listen to the other students (who were all male) Call me a dike, but have the TEACHERS encouraging them to do so. I had my work broken and stolen and had hammers slammed down next to my hands and face. I endured and passed with flying colours thou my teachers would say that I had problems adjusting..
    In the one of the places I was employed there was no female loo's or changing rooms, so I either had to change with the men, in my car or plod to the admin section of the work place in greasy slacks and change in the only female loo's there and ofc there was no showers for me to use.

    This is why female engineers are rare.. but I also agree with the cartoon.. ^-^

    • Ouch. I can't imagine what that must have been like. I, too, experienced discrimination from programmers, albeit on a MUCH smaller scale than you did. I was a computer science major while in college and in one of my introductory level classes it was just me and one other girl (she wasn't a CS major because I never saw her in any of my other classes). The rest of the class and the teacher were all male. Anyway, at one point in the class the prof invited all the guys to come to his church and see a movie. He clearly said multiple times that this was a guys only event and that the girls weren't invited. The movie wasn't anything I was interested in, anyway, but it was still discrimination. Geesh.

    • Wow goodjob over coming that, kudos to you. Must've been hard I can see why women would be discouraged to join such a sexiest environment.

    • If you don't mind my asking, what generation/age/geographical area are you/were you during these experiences? I'm in another male heavy field (analytical chemistry) and wouldn't have nightmares of those types of things happening and never experienced anything close to that happening around me. Chemistry does still have a good number more women than engineering, some maybe that makes a difference. Still I was really hoping these horrors were a thing of the past.

  2. Part of it, yes, but it's up to every girl to turn her nose at typical "girl toys" and demand more interesting toys (and the same can be said for boys who prefer "tamer toys" over classic "boy toys").

    I do believe that girls who opt for classically boy toys are perhaps more likely to eschew gender norms and simply follow their hearts into a career path of interest… wherever that takes them.

    Having said all of that, I find that with myself and many fellow female engineers and hard core IT occupations, we had, in our youth, opted for LEGO, chemistry sets, and other construction toys and voiced our disdain for dollies and make believe.

    • disagree. there's a lot of outside pressure that encourages gender norms. parents, peers, teachers, etc, all contribute (consciously or not) to the continuation of these norms, and for many girls, refusing these norms are not an option, or they do not see it as one because anything else is simply not normal.

      sure, it's more widely accepted for a girl to enjoy "boy toys" and be a tom boy than vise versa, but for the most part, from birth, gender norms are pushed onto girls and they're sold pink dolls. i would not place the blame on the little girl for not choosing a "boy" toy.

    • Like you, I loved (and asked for) LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, chemistry sets, etc. Still love those things to this day. I also loved getting certain types of dolls. Their heads made for great water bombs when dropped from a tree. ^_^ This was also the time in my life that I discovered my mom was a closet geek. It was years before I knew that Nintendo games came wrapped in plastic. My mom would get them as a X-mas gift for me in Feb. and then wait every night till I went to sleep so she could play.

      All that being said, the simple act of playing with the "boy" toys is still make believe. In order to "make believe" you have to have an imagination. Think of what our world would be like if all of those people (male and female) didn't imagine the computer, the car, the airplane, etc. All of those things were originally someones "make believe". Then they used their knowledge to "make real".

      Never underestimate the power of imagination.

    • I think this can be wrong and right I'm going into animation a mainly male industry and i played with both boys and girls choice i think its down to the individual to just do what makes them happy, i think however there needs to be more encouragement for girls to go into more male orientated industries, education systems don't explore these and so many women may not even know they may be interested in the sectors or work the sexism is also a downside to these industries on my previous college course i was one of 3 girls in a class of 17 guys and they made me regularly uncomfortable with sexist jokes about women being stupid even though i was achieving better grades than well all of them (highest graded student on the course)

    • I'm not an engineer, but I LOVED Legos, and Tonka trucks, Transformers, G.I. Joes and most boy's toys, nowadays I do not believe in gender roles, I like what I like, period. Nowadays I play boy's video games, shooters, sci fi, war, etc. I'm still the same, I prefer action movies to romantic comedies, etc. I can talk to anyone about anything because my mind wasn't encased in a gender. I'm glad my mom was open minded and simply bought me what I wanted, not what SHE thought a girl should play with, I still remember when she used to buy me hotwheels cars :P

    • My toys were mostly animals of one variety or another. Any dolls I got I didn't play with very much. I also spent A LOT of time on the computer.

  3. well.. in my case, i know some girl engineers who litterally aprove the everything because they are girls.. thats why i put myself in teams where i was the only man on a group of three, im pretty sure i got high grads just because there were girls on my team, cus our works sometimes just sucked enough to be shame of.. but still good grades… ^-^, girls u have it easy when being engineers…

  4. So do engineers not learn how to construct and design a word or sentence properly? That's what I'm gathering from these comments.

      • Hey now, some of us engineers scored well on BOTH sections. 720 on math and 670 on verbal.

        And as far as women engineers, I played with computers games, lego blocks, and Barbies. I think any play that uses imagination is good. Of course I’m in my 30s so toys I had required more use of your imagination for them to “do” things than toys now. I also know now that I was a huge sci-fi geek as a kid but at the time didn’t get that I was such a geek. I obviously didn’t hang out with the cool kids but there were enough geeks in my school that we never felt too outcast.

  5. If toys are a cause, it's the parents' fault.

    But I thought the real reason for lack of women in engineering was that they have poor spatial skills, because every guy they meet tries to convince them that this: <==========================> is eight inches.

    Seriously, I have a daughter in the honors engineering program at the local university. But there are only about 10 females out of about 150 frosh in the program. The non-honors track has more.

  6. i agree with tessa, and not just engineers. (self taught on cad and on cnc programming. my parents own a machine shop and you are looking at the only person who can run the laser and plasma cutter.) i was treated much like tessa in my flight coarses in college. teacher caught a plane on fire and left me trapped in it even. was jumped with another student walking back to my dorm by a bunch of the male students. 6 girls 30boys and i was the last girl to leave. i made it the full normal school year and summer semester before i left. i got my license a month after when i returned home. even though they constantly said i wasn't going to get it.

  7. I think that's probably part of it, though maybe more the societal push that dolls and "girly" things are normal for girls than just the toys themselves. I am a female engineer and I did play with dolls and pretty pretty princess and all that when I was young. but I also watched star trek and x-files with my parents. so maybe that lead me to be interested in science later on in school and other more classically geeky things. I also read a lot when I played with dolls, so maybe it's just a mixture of things.

  8. There was a study done not too long ago to determine why it was men seemed to be able to do spacial tasks better than women (i.e. parking and so forth). What they found out was that boys who were introduced to toys that required them to build and construct and do "spacial" tasks were at an advantage over girls who are usually given toys that aren't geared to that sort of brain activity.

    I think what parents of children should do is provide a wide variety of toy options, especially those who have only one child or children of the same gender. In households where there are both girls and boys there is more of an opportunity for "cross pollination" of interests between the toys available. And of course encourage children to explore outside of their comfort zones promotes curiosity and a love for learning.

    As a girl, I was not drawn to dolls, more than likely to draw ON the dolls, until my dad gave up and in utter frustration bought me a football helmet, which I loved. I would put that thing on and watch football with him on Sundays. My poor mom.

  9. I, too, played with dolls. But when we got air conditioning installed, no power on Earth was able to prevent me from shadowing those guys as they built the ductwork. I was always taking things apart to see how they worked, or why they didn’t work. I got a chance to get into PC repair early on (early PS2’s) and now I’m second level tech support for PLC’s. My 5’th grade teacher told me I was ‘bad at math’ and I foolishly believed her .. until I scored 710 on my math boards! I’ve fought against her voice all my life: and won! I embrace my inner geek!

  10. As a father of three girls , i tried everything to get them to play with lego, trucks etc but even at an early age they just weren't interested, even telling me "dad im a girl"this may have come from outside eg school etc but not through lack of trying on my part. sometimes the stereotypes are there because "most" girls just are not into it, ie girls are hard-wired differently. I'm a communications engineer and would have loved my girls to follow in my footsteps and hate to think that they wouldn't because of society etc.

  11. I played with dolls. Still got a degree in aerospace engineering. Had to endure a lot of sexism in college, and then in engineering industry. Left the field, work as a technical translator now and enjoy wearing hills to work without hearing stupid comments. I absolutely hate male engineers who make it so tough on females in the field.

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