Within living memory, young women who have wanted to study engineering faced such dissent that in 1955, Penn State’s dean of engineering declared, “Women are NOT for engineering,” asserting that all but a few “unusual women” lacked the “basic capabilities” necessary to succeed in this profession (Bix par. 2). Although the number of women in social sciences and humanities has grown steadily, women remain underrepresented in science and engineering. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “women remain underrepresented in engineering constituting only 10 percent of full-time employed engineers and 7.7 percent of engineering managers...” Although this is the case, social norms, culture and attitudes play a significant role in undermining the role of women in the aforementioned fields in addition to the gendered persistence and their individual confidence in their ability to fulfill engineering roles.
In many cases, women’s achievements are measured according to male oriented standards. I would like to argue with a more diverse approach to this cause. If humanity is comprised of both men and women, and we are equally dependent on each other for humanity’s survival, why are men and women not viewed as equals? These old attitudes are drilled into us from birth. If boys were taught mutual respect as they grew up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. In the same way girls would need to be taught to set high goals; that they can reach as high as humanly possible. Unfortunately, typically male values and traditions have, over time, shaped the culture in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) fields. This has created, in many ways, a hostile learning and working environment for women. From time immemorial, women have been regarded as caretakers, and their work has traditionally involved taking care of their families. This stereotypical view on women has led many men to undermine the abilities of women in these fields.
As documented by Bystydzienski (24), many men respond negatively when asked about the capability of women to excel in technical (science) and engineering fields. Societal norms dictate that a woman cannot be successful as a mother while simultaneously following these careers. According to the International Labor Organization, science and engineering are associated with pervasive gender roles that encourage women to engage in ‘soft’ subjects (hawks and Joan 250). This undermines the potential of women in these fields. This impedes their development in the fields since they may feel that their intuitive and imaginative styles do not fit to scientific research. There is also concern on the part of those seeking quality, talent, and creativity for the engineering and scientific disciplines as they end up losing nearly half the potential talent for the technical workforce (BLS 2011)
Female stereotyping is a key element that impedes the accomplishments of women in SET. Women who take SET careers are associated with a loss of “femininity”...