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Engineering and sexism

Posted By Nammi Nadella On Nov 2, 2011 @ 10:04 am In Sandbox | Comments Disabled

engineerIt’s no surprise that a guy trying to get a date with a girl in his engineering class has a whole lot of competition. “Good luck getting to the three girls in the entire auditorium,” says one student. Though females comprise a little more than half the students at UC Berkeley, only 23 percent of its College of Engineering are female [1], with individual programs (such as mechanical engineering) having as low as 15 percent enrollment for women.

One female student, Cassie Parkos [1],¬†speaks about how hard it is to be an engineer, saying she gets whistled at, asked out and made an object of sexist jokes instead of being taken seriously. Evidently, the jokes are not just from male colleagues, but male professors as well. One¬†instructor supposedly remarked that women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive … and probably should not, drawing attention to the few female students in the class, including Parkos. Don’t you just love supportive professors?

A new study [2] reveals that despite possessing the same skills as their male counterparts, female engineers have less confidence in their expertise. It’s hard to imagine why, it’s not like your professor is making sexist jokes. Oh, wait. Sarcasm aside, the study found that women who started college as engineers are more likely to drop the career path than men in the same situation. Researchers attribute this to deficiency in “two types of confidence.” Women have less confidence that this is the right career for them in addition to doubting their skill level.

Parkos claims that despite the PMS and Barbie jokes, her experience has made her more determined to come out of the program successful.

End feminist rant.

Image source: Hobbes vs Boyle [3] under Creative Commons
Female engineering majors struggle with confidence issues [Californiawatch [1]]

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URL to article: http://clog.dailycal.org/2011/11/02/engineering-and-sexism/

URLs in this post:

[1] Though females comprise a little more than half the students at UC Berkeley, only 23 percent of its College of Engineering are female: http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/female-engineering-majors-struggle-confidence-issues-13307

[2] study: http://asr.sagepub.com/content/76/5/641.abstract

[3] Hobbes vs Boyle: http://www.flickr.com/photos/haarald/4271056843/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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