• Question: is it difficult for a woman to be an engineer?

    Asked by ChristyC on 17 Jul 2021.
    • Photo: Caroline Roche

      Caroline Roche answered on 23 Jun 2021:

      No, it’s not difficult being a woman and an engineer.
      But you can get into some difficult situations from people who aren’t used to it or see it still as a male career. But the main thing to remember in those situations, is that it is their problem not yours.
      The most common one I experience is people unable to curse or allow someone else to curse in front of me because “it’s inappropriate language for a lady to hear”.

    • Photo: Chloe James

      Chloe James answered on 23 Jun 2021:

      Definitely not! Although engineering is a male dominated profession, there are a lot more women working in engineering. I’m a very firm believer that if you want to do something, you should do it, regardless of your gender (or other factors, such as your race, ability or age).

      I don’t find my job any more difficult than my male colleagues, and if I do find it difficult, it isn’t because I’m a woman (I hope that makes sense!)

      Sometimes, people may feel that they need to change how they speak to you, because you’re a woman. I’ve noticed this if I’m in a group meeting, sometimes someone will apologise for swearing or saying something a little rude, as it’s “not fit for ladies to hear”. When this happens, I tend to remind them that I am an adult and have heard it before and that there’s no need for them to change what they say, just because I’m a woman!

    • Photo: Emma Crook

      Emma Crook answered on 23 Jun 2021:

      no, it’s not difficult to be a female engineer. it can be challenging to deal with other people’s expectations of you, but i am lucky to not have experienced any negativity, and i feel valued for my abilities regardless of my gender.

    • Photo: Mark Eyles

      Mark Eyles answered on 24 Jun 2021:

      Definitely not, the drive for more women to make the choice to follow an engineering career has never been higher. I think it is an opportunity missed that more women don’t pursue engineering as a career choice.

    • Photo: Carys Kelly

      Carys Kelly answered on 28 Jun 2021: last edited 28 Jun 2021 3:10 pm

      In terms of doing the job, absolutely not. We are all equally capable of working in engineering regardless of gender! However, it would be unfair to say there’s no problems that come with being a woman in a very male dominated field. Sadly, there are people who don’t believe that woman can be as good an engineer as a man. I’ve found the best way to deal with this is just to leave them to it and focus on your own career and goals. People like that aren’t worth spending time on!

      On a more positive note, these kind of attitudes are becoming less and less common. People are learning more and engineering is become more diverse all the time, which is great! The most important thing to take from this as young people coming into the world at work, is that we are all capable regardless of what makes us different. Never let anyone tell you otherwise!

    • Photo: Helen Randell

      Helen Randell answered on 30 Jun 2021:

      I don’t think so – we make great engineers! There are always challenges like feeling young, or working on a new project or with a new team which everyone will experience at some time and there are lots of groups to help diversity (not just limited to sex) and give you support.

    • Photo: Melis Duyar

      Melis Duyar answered on 1 Jul 2021:

      The engineering is not difficult, but people sometimes can be difficult towards women engineers. It is important in this field (and others) to have a sense of fair opportunity and equal rights and always strive to make the working environment better by fighting discrimination. My current department is doing well in that regard, but I have been in environments previously where it was difficult to be a woman engineer and it is important for me to not forget that there are broader issues in the world even if I am not presently affected by them on a personal level.

      In academia a big issue is that engineering departments don’t have equal representation of women or have many women in senior roles (such as full professor). This is one of the things that we should analyse and address via good recruitment and promotion practices. For example I am part of a team in our department that is performing data analysis to determine how certain institutional practices (like how parental leave or flexible working opportunities or additional roles in the department are provided) influence women’s career trajectories so that we can make recommendations to improve how we operate.

      In summary, it is not hard being an engineer as a woman, but the work that must be done to have a fair society (not just for women but everyone) continues…