I’m not a fleece-wearing nerd just because I do Engineering

There are girls here too. Promise

I do engineering. Therefore, I wear fleeces and chinos, I am slightly unshaven, nerdy, only talk to other engineers and what else? Male? I am all for a good laugh, even at my own expense but what I choose as a career shouldn’t be one. Gone are the days of “guy subjects”, and with it it just highlighted were the true issues lie.

I have got to be honest with you though, I did go to an all girls school. Now maybe this jaded me to what it’s like in a male dominated industry but as far as I was concerned I could do anything I wanted to. After coming to university the boy to girl ratio in my course wasn’t too bad, but on other Engineering courses finding a girl was harder than finding Wally. A female fresher has even asked me “where are all the girls at?”. Apart from sounding like David Guetta, she had a point.

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Girls are getting onto Engineering degrees without a hitch – the only reason the numbers are so low is due to the proportion of male to female applicants. Yet, at least in my friendship group, it does seem women are struggling getting jobs after their degree, whether they finished with a 2:1 or even a first. We are completely outnumbered when it comes to male engineers. Men are still struggling to understand our ways as it is without throwing a first class engineering degree into the mix. Perhaps they just get confused and don’t know what to do. Or perhaps women aren’t putting themselves out there.

I don’t know about you but I cannot name one well-known female engineer. They are out there, they are doing fantastic work and developing the industry and society, but they’re keeping themselves to themselves. It’s something to be admired in a way but this lack of recognition for their own work make them invisible to future generations. To combat this a list of “The top 50 women in engineering” is being produced. But it doesn’t get rid of the shockingly low number of women in engineering.

Looking at the low figures of women in industry after getting their degree it is clear there is more underlying issues, whether it be only being looked at for a job after a male applicant, or having family ties that mean they can’t relocate as easily. Whatever the reasons we need to up that number. The best way to do that? Get more women into the degree subject as it is.

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Engineering is great for women. Not just socially but we work well. Apart from having a fierce Facebook chat group, we stick together work wise. Engineering is competitive so it’s always good to have a friend or two. With us being the minority anyway we need to form a pack. A pack to combat those low stats and presumptions. Universities are throwing bursaries and scholarships for women in engineering at us but many go unclaimed. All you need is to be a woman and deserving of the award, obviously.

I worry that some girls think the male engineers are against them, when in actual fact that is only a small minority. Thoughts like this will result in a decrease in female engineers and with it the great ideas we have. Maybe we need to get louder and prouder over what we do. I am not one to brag, especially about accomplishments, it’s just awkward really. However, maybe, just maybe, if that’s what we all did people would take notice. Even if it was just to complain over how many awards we have won, or what ideas we have had before they even got the time to think about it.

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Don’t get me wrong, engineering is hard. It takes time and a lot of work to get the most out of it. I even missed the deadline on this piece because I had a lab report due and every percent counts. Stigma is still out there but the best way for us to tackle it is to prove everyone wrong. If you are thinking of careers with travel, growth and even a bit of money take a look at engineering. Why not? If a guy can, why can’t we.

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