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Evolution of Women in Engineering

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Women have evolved in the engineering profession over the decades. However, there is still a lot more room for female presence in the industry as women currently make up about

Women have evolved in the engineering profession over the decades. However, there is still a lot more room for female presence in the industry as women currently make up about 12-15% of working engineers. Based on many studies and surveys, it is clear that female confidence in their own performance and a feeling of belonging in the industry has evolved for the better. The studies and surveys also show that women still lack a certain confidence to get their engineering degree and then to pursue a career in engineering once they receive their degree. Research shows that the main cause for this is due to the stereotype that engineering is a masculine profession. Men and women both have this mindset because it has become a societal norm that most people go along with and do not even realize it. Unfortunately, it is very hard to overcome and change a societal norm, therefore, something needs to be done in order to fix this mindset. (Crawford). Based on studies and research, there are many ways the stereotype is being combatted. Social media has become a huge component in advocating for female engineers. Men and women are helping to fight the status quo by supporting female engineers and lobbying against people who think women do not belong in the industry. Industry professionals are teaming up with schools to figure out ways to make STEM programs more exciting for all young kids, but especially girls. They are also working to provide more mentors and role models for young girls in order to cheer them on and make them more confident in their abilities when learning and applying the STEM curriculum, as studies have proven that providing young girls with mentors can really help foster more female engineers in the long run. (Crawford). With all of the positive support and promotions of female engineers in the past few years, it is evident that women can certainly progress at a much faster pace than in previous decades.

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  • 2016-05

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Women in

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The initial women pioneers in engineering faced many of the same barriers as women engineers today, including stereotypes, unfair treatment in the workplace, restrictions and lack of opportunities, and lack

The initial women pioneers in engineering faced many of the same barriers as women engineers today, including stereotypes, unfair treatment in the workplace, restrictions and lack of opportunities, and lack of recognition. Research shows that these barriers are the primary reason why women’s representation within engineering has been low and slow to increase compared to their representation in other fields such as nursing and science. As of 2013, women still only account for 12 percent of all engineers. Yet, despite the barriers and low numbers, women engineers have demonstrated themselves as capable of succeeding just as much, if not more, than their male peers. Some of the ways they have broken the barriers in engineering have been through focusing on proving their merit, finding alternative paths, leveraging government jobs and programs, finding support among other women engineers, fighting for their right to be engineers, and through being satisfied and interested in their work. This thesis analyzes reasons why women have been underrepresented in the field, major achievements from women engineers, and strategies women engineers have adopted to mitigate barriers. The individual profiles of the women discussed in this thesis come from historical research on pioneer women engineers and interviews from modern day women engineers. Their stories help tell the history of how the experiences of women in engineering have changed and remained the same over the past 140 years. The goal of this thesis is to serve as a resource for young women who want to learn more about women in engineering. The history of women engineers is a story worth sharing to everyone because it could inspire young girls to consider engineering as a path for the future and help shift the mindset of members of society to accept and encourage women engineers.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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“We’re Still Writing That Story”: How Successful Women Engineers Use Narrative Rhetoric to Open Possibilities for Change

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Women are under-represented in engineering, in school and in the workplace. Reasons for this include the socio-historical masculinization of technology, which has been established by feminist technology researchers such as

Women are under-represented in engineering, in school and in the workplace. Reasons for this include the socio-historical masculinization of technology, which has been established by feminist technology researchers such as Faulkner, Lohan and Cockburn, and makes developing role models of women engineers difficult. The under-representation of women in engineering is a social problem that typically lies outside the area of interest of rhetoricians. However, my dissertation considers storytelling by women engineers as a powerful rhetorical tool, one that is well-suited for the particular structural inequalities endemic to engineering. I analyze stories told by participants in an oral history project conducted by the Society of Women Engineers, with women engineers who worked between the 1940’s and the early 2000’s. I use a textual coding research method to reveal the claims participants make through stories, themes that are evident across those claims, and how women engineers effectively use stories to advance those claims. My study extends the scholarly understanding of the rhetoric of engineering work. I find that in their stories participants argue for a complex relationship between social and technical work; they describe how technical thinking helps them work through social problems, how technical work is socially situated, that an interest in technical work impacts family and interpersonal relationships, and how making career decisions is facilitated by social relationships. They also demonstrate considerable rhetorical expertise in their use of narrative. As a collection these stories meet a pressing need: the need for an understanding of engineering and women engineers that creates possibilities for change. They meet this need first by helping the audience understand both significant systemic oppressions and the problem-solving individual actions that can be taken in response (in ways that highlight possibilities without placing the full responsibility for change on women engineers), and second by illustrating a heterogenous understanding of engineering and women engineers (in order to avoid essentializing women and essentializing technology). As a result of these qualities, the stories are a way to get to ‘know’ engineers and engineering from a distance, which is exactly the pressing lack felt by so many potential women engineers.

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Date Created
  • 2020