Engineers behaving badly and what academics should do about it

CMM suspects that initiatives to increase women studying engineering will accomplish sod-all if the culture of engineering workplaces continue to drive women away.

Sally Male (UWA) and colleagues surveyed women (and some male) engineering graduates to  make the point, finding; “female students were more likely than the male students to experience imposed gendered expectations, comments that drew attention to their gender, and requests based on their gender.”

Part of the problem is that there are still few women engineers on worksites; “No-one in the workplace expects the woman to be an engineer and women frequently find that they have not been accommodated.”

Another issue is the way the workplace is constructed as a place for blokes;

“Although physical strength is irrelevant for professional engineering, engineers are associated with remote and/or dirty environments in which the workforce is mainly male. … This is in contrast with professions such as dentistry, law, medicine and teaching which involve interactions with families and children. “

And men behave badly, asking women to do their typing, refusing to acknowledge they are engineers, being crude.

That men emerge from university thinking this is how engineers can behave does not say much for the teaching environment. Male and colleagues propose; ensuring mixed-gender study groups and that “engineering academics must support students to recognise gendered culture so that students do not take it personally, do not normalise inappropriate cultures, and do not feel the need to meet gender norms.”

There is more to engineering education than engineering.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education