Saturday, March 18, 2006

Gender gap in engineering and business

Lack of female mentors. According to the National Science Foundation, women make up only 5.2% of tenured engineering faculty. Students felt that they had no one to turn to for help and guidance. One student said she felt disadvantaged "when it comes to being an engineer without being like a man." Another commented, "Engineering professors make terrible mentors; they can't mentor unless it's about discussing an equation."

From this story by Vivek Wadhwa in Business Week [via Uma]. The story leads with "Women should be mentored not only to be engineers, but to become entrepreneurs in the field. And such encouragement has to start early."

A recent study found that "women more than men need role models who are the same gender as they are". Here's a post (on the excellent "Research Digest Blog" of the British Psychological Society) that reports on the study.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Two words to explain the US gender gap in engineering: Money and Respect.

    We don't have any problems getting women to go to medical school. Med school is not an easy path, and requires a strong science background. In that respect, it is not dissimilar to engineering.

    At the end of it all, the doctor gets a lot more money and respect than the engineer.

    This could explain the engineering gender gap. It could also explain the shortage of US-born engineers... there are simply better options available to talented individuals.

  2. Abi said...

    HalfDesi: I too agree with you that a big part (but not the whole!) of the problem can be explained by the two things you mentioned: money and respect. However, I don't understand how an engineer gets less respect than a doctor ...

    On the other hand, how about law?