Women engineers: starting is not the problem

The number that stay is

Yesterday the Australian Bureau of Statistics marked International Women in Engineering Day by tweeting that 12 per cent of “engineering professionals” are women – up from 5 per cent two decades back.

To which Karen Hapgood, Deakin U dean of science, engineering and built environment (and an engineer) responded “modest progress, but still progress,” adding that women have made up 15 per cent – 17 per cent of engineering courses for a decade.

But she added, “the sector is irrationally focussed solely on getting women ‘into’ engineering and not on why so few women end up with a long-term engineering career.”

Gosh! now why would that be?

Professions Australia has a few ideas. In a 2017 survey it found women engineers earned less than men and 47 per cent had experienced gender discrimination.

“As well as efforts to encourage women and girls into engineering, an effective long-term solution will require addressing the complex range of factors that operate to disadvantage women in employment generally, as well as the factors particular to the engineering workforce that create disadvantage and lead to the attrition of women from the profession,” PA’s Chris Walton said.