As a female engineer I don’t feel I’ve had it any different to the male engineers – I’ve been treated exactly as the men have. I’ve passed the same university degree, got through the same interview process and am treated in the same way as the male colleagues at work.
I hope that everyone else has had the same experience!
I did physics not engineering but I think I can offer an answer that can be applied to any types of industry and not just engineering.
I realised I was a “woman” after having my daughter…before that I thought everyone had exactly the same opportunities. Society is still built around the notion that women are the primary care givers and that they are less suited to certain types of roles that traditionally are associated with male attributes (strength, leadership etc.). We have been granted rights such as education and the vote relatively recently, and we are lucky here because in some cultures women are still regarded as inferior to men. It is difficult to break free from such stereotypes and gender norms, but not impossible. Fortunately there are gender equality laws and the situation now is much better than it was in the 50s. But we cannot be complacent. Women and men need to work together towards gender equality, both in the workplace and at home.
Totally agree with what Miriam says – we all need to work together to change things. At Airbus, I am leading a project where we are building a model to look at this problem in order to work out how to best change our working environment.
I agree with the other engineers, I’ve been treated equally, regardless of gender (and ethnicity, class, etc.) I’ve had access to the same opportunities as my male colleagues and worked just as hard to take advantage of those opportunities.
There’s nothing about engineering that says men are inherently better at it than women, but as Miriam explained, gender stereotypes get in the way of girls pursuing it, resulting in fewer women in engineering fields.
At times, this can be isolating, especially if you came from a more gender-balanced environment at school or at home.
Like the others, I also try to make an effort to change the environment around me, to challenge stereotypes and question people’s assumptions.
At the end of the day, I think both genders just want to understand each other and our experiences (which often vary due to how we are raised).
I feel that as an adult female engineer, I’ve been treated equally. Over my career most of my colleagues have been male engineers but I don’t find any problems arising from that. We respect each other’s skills.
I think the bit that’s tougher is being a girl discovering engineering, and having to navigate through pressures from other people to do something more “girly”. I was lucky that my parents were very supportive of STEM but that’s not as common as it should be, particularly since this is a stable, rewarding, and decently paid career so a great option for girls and boys alike.
I didn’t find it any more difficult or different to the men around me until I had my sons, but even then I think there is change afoot and companies are realising that they are shutting off 50% of their workforce with what can be outdated approaches to the treatment of those who are primary care givers to their children. I found my way around this by working for myself and making everything work for my family.
My family always encouraged me wholeheartedly to go into engineering and I firmly believe that is what helped me get to where I am now.