Perception of barriers to career progression by women engineers and engineering students
Citation:Fernando, A. (2011, July). Perception of barriers to career progression by women engineers and engineering students. Paper presented at ICWES 15, the 15th International Conference for Women Engineers and Scientists, Adelaide.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1706
Although the common view that engineering is best suited for men is changing, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting gender imbalance in the engineering industry. Efforts take place throughout New Zealand to encourage participation and career progression of females in engineering. These occur through the formation and activities of societies such as Women in Engineering(WIE) in NZ Universities and provision of support by Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand(IPENZ). These enable networking opportunities and celebrate achievements of women engineers. However despite these, a small sample of female engineers revealed that they feel the presence of more barriers to them than for their male counterparts to be able to accomplish in the profession. This in turn may discourage prospective students who value a good balance between their role as an engineer, mother and a home-maker. A survey was conducted to assess the perception by female engineers/engineering students of these barriers, and how prepared the engineering industries/educational institutes are to cater for the specific needs of a woman as she progresses through the career, balancing the familial responsibilities. Based on findings some measures are proposed to encourage female participation and retention in engineering industry; implementing them can be invaluable in preventing the loss of highly skilled engineers to the industry especially when a young female engineer chooses family over engineering work – either by changing her career path to obtain more flexible working conditions or by stopping work all together. Both of these scenarios are equally detrimental to the individual and the industry.