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Diversity Issues In Communication Women In Engineering

1459 words - 6 pages

Engineering has typically been seen as a male profession. Engineering is no longer a field that strictly involves dirty work and heavy machinery. In recent years the engineering field has evolved into specialized fields such as computer technology which takes on an analytical approach rather than a hands-on one. This paper will discuss how being a woman in the engineering industry is different from being a man in the engineering industry. The paper will examine the difference in communication styles between men and women, the acceptance of women into the field, and how women can use their skills and knowledge to break through the glass ceiling.Since the end of World War II, the proportion of engineers who are women has increased markedly. In 1947, which is the earliest date for reliable statistics, 0.3% of all engineers in the United States were women. Over the next 40 years, the rate of increase was astonishing. By 1983, 20 years after Betty Friedan had published The Feminine Mystique and a little more than a decade after Congress had passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, the proportion was up to 5.8% (Cowan, 2004). By the end of the millennium, after engineering colleges had spent millions of dollars making special efforts to woo and retain women students, the figure had almost doubled, to 10.6%.Back in 1947, around the time that the Society for Women Engineers was being formed, women made up 4.9% of all physicists, 16.6% of all astronomers and 7.0% of all chemists-not large proportions, but significantly higher than the proportion in engineering: 0.3%. This strange pattern has persisted through the era of affirmative action. In 1983, about 15% of all physicians and attorneys were female; as were about 23% of all chemists and 30% of all mathematicians and computer scientists - which makes the figure for women engineers, 5.8%, seem miniscule. By 1999 professional women had made astonishing advances in medicine, in the law, in the natural sciences-but only 10% of the engineering workforce was female (National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2008). This means that engineering is, today, the most gender segregated of the professions, more segregated even than dentistry (16% female) and the clergy (14%).In recent years, a small group of scholars, activists and human resource specialists has been trying to understand why engineering remains so completely dominated by men. Many explanations have been offered, ranging from the purely social (peer group pressure not to take advanced high school math and science courses) to the almost purely biological (right brain/left brain differences, innate spatial relations and analytic skills). The biological explanations, popular in the 1980s, have now been almost completely discredited (if slightly lower average spatial relations abilities make women less fit to be engineers, how are so many of them able to sustain successful careers in physics, chemistry, and architecture?). But the social...

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