In the News Today
Wells, M.A. (April 3, 2018). Closing the Engineering Gender Gap: Why women disporportionally opt out of engineering’s education and career pipeline. Design Engineering.
Dr. Mary A. Wells (a chair of ONWiE for the past five years) has realized that the answer to closing the gender gap for women in engineering is not clear cut. There are many barriers to overcome, including gender stereotypes and socio-economic issues. She notes that one of the largest leaks in the pipeline takes place in high school. “Surprisingly, it is not the advanced math courses that cause this divide but rather Grade 11 and 12 physics!” Physics results in a 85% loss of female students in grade 12. Thus we need to work with our schools and determine a better approach to plugging this leak.
The Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE) has had some success with their multiple female youth programs, like Go CODE Girl. And we have seen female student enrolment in undergraduate engineering programs go up from 17% in 2005 to 21.2% in 2016.
However, another significant issue that needs addressing is the workplace culture. Unfortunately, nearly 40% of female engineers leave the profession (or never enter into it). There is a lack of job satisfaction, role models, flexible hours and workplace discrimination to name a few.
Engendering Success in STEM is also working to break down biases in STEM. They say that boys and men play important roles in welcoming girls and women into STEM and can help change the engineering culture.
Dr. Wells believes that this is a “game changer for the engineering profession”. Women need to feel that they belong!