Why Women Quit Engineering?

Survey says women engineers do not find the work climate suitable.

A study of 5,300 women engineering graduates in the United States has found that nearly 40% of women who earn engineering degree quit the profession or never enter the field. The study was presented by Nadya Fouad of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The study titled Stemming the Tide: Why women leave engineering? By Dr. Nadya A. Fouad, Dr. Romila Singh, Dr. Mary E. Fritzpatrick and Dr. Jane P. Liu says that women constituted 20% of those who earned engineering degrees during the last two decade, but only 11% of those working as engineers were women. While 62% of the women surveyed persisted in their careers as engineers, 11% never entered the field, 21% left more than five years ago and 6% left less than five years ago.
Those who responded to the University survey, indicated that the workplace climate was a strong factor in their decisions to not enter engineering after college or to leave the profession of engineering. About 11% of those who left the jobs, said they left because of working conditions, too much travel, lack of advancement, or low salary. Approximately one-in-five women left because they did not like the workplace climate, their boss or the culture. Eight per cent left to spend time with family. Those who left were not different from current engineers in their interests, confidence in their abilities or the positive outcomes they expected from performing engineering-related tasks.
A third of those who did not enter engineering profession, said the engineering profession was non-supportive for women. Nearly 30% said they were no longer interested in the profession.
The engineering alumnae who participated in the study consisted of four groups: those with an engineering undergraduate degree who never entered the engineering field, those who left the field more than five years ago, those who left the engineering field less than five years ago, and those who are currently working as engineers.
About 10% of the women who quit the engineering field reported that they left the field to spend more time with their family (17%). Other women reported that they lost interest in engineering (12%) or developed interest in another field, they did not like the engineering culture, they did not like engineering tasks, or they were not offered any opportunities for advancement (12%).
A report released by the Society of Women Engineers (in 2007) had suggested that Women leave engineering careers in part because they encounter a chilly organizational climate when they reach childbearing age and desire to balance work and family roles.
Women who persisted in their engineering careers worked on average 44 hours a week and earned salaries between $76,000 and $125,000 a year. About 15% were executives, a third project managers and the remainder staff members. Supportive bosses and co-workers, and organizations that recognize their contributions, provide training and paths for advancement and support a work-life balance were reasons women gave for staying in their jobs, according to the study.
The study was aimed at stemming the tide of departures and increase women’s persistence in engineering filed.
(The article has been written on the basis on a survey carried out by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. For full version long onto: http://studyofwork.com/files/2011/03/NSF_Women-Full-Report-0314.pdf)

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