Female Engineering - The Climate Now
The entry of women into the engineering professions became a common phenomenon only during the last two decades. Although there is a significant number of women earning degrees in engineering, the problem that needs to be addressed is that their number as active professionals seems to decrease over time. Women acquire the necessary skills and knowledge and then shift into different fields or choose to stay at home and focus on their family instead of pursuing a career.
What are the reasons that women leave engineering fields? Surveys have shown that the most frequent reasons are an unwelcoming working climate, inflexibility of working hours, and the non-supportive culture that still dominates the profession. Family and household obligations seem to be secondary reasons, contrary to what would be normally expected.
According to another point of view, the problem is that industry, and engineering colleges, focus more on recruiting more women than in retaining them. This is mostly attributed to the organizational structure of the educational institutions. Once a student has decided on his academic career, there is no flexibility for him or her to transfer to engineering; knowledge prerequisites may force students to attend the same courses again (e.g. calculus), making such a decision more difficult.
Another problem that has been identified is the lack of team spirit among engineering students, a fact that makes the problem even wider. Young engineers adhere to a stereotype of performing tasks individually or finding solutions to problems on their own. This results in future problems when real working conditions demand collaboration among colleagues, males or females.