New research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has found that more women are choosing to study engineering but that this increase is failing to translate into an equivalent increase in women in the profession
The study entitled 'Women Engineering Students' Workplace Experiences: Impact on Career Interventions' found that women students had identified engineering degrees as a good basis for a variety of career paths. Led by Professor Barbara Bagilhole, of Loughborough University, the study found that women perceived themselves to be more employable as a result of their gender, and felt that companies were trying to recruit more females in order to improve their image. 'A drive to recruit more women into the industry is commendable, but this has had the effect of making them wonder whether they have been employed for their capabilities or their gender,' she said.'Alternatively, this has also led women to believe - possibly falsely - that engineering workplaces would be equitable for women, posing the question of whether 'getting in' is the same as 'getting on' in these industries.' Women students were found to value their status as a 'novelty' in engineering, and held traditionally stereotypical views of women outside the profession. The study, which involved finding out students' views before, during and after an industrial placement, throws light on the experiences of women in a largely male-dominated environment, and the strategies they adopt for coping.