The Power of Female Engineers
In no surprise to anyone, engineering is not the most female-friendly field. Despite composing 50 percent of the world’s population and nearly 51 percent of American citizens, as well as over 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, women claim only about 18 percent of engineering jobs. Worse, engineering, like other STEM fields, is perceived as male; thus, the existing hordes of male workers as well as overwhelming cultural pressures make it difficult for women to become engineers and succeed in engineering fields. Still, many persevere, in large part thanks to mandates from the government and business leaders to bring in more female talent.
Yet, due to ingrained sexism, resistance to change, or misguided curiosity, a question many men in engineering fields continue to ask is “But, shouldn’t we hire the best person for the job rather than hiring for diversity?” What they often fail to realize is that women are the best people for the job ― and here’s why.
Women Engineers Have Different Perspectives
Most engineers are tasked with finding simple, effective solutions to difficult challenges. However, not all problems have easy answers, and often, an issue cannot be resolved using the same tactics used in prior projects. Thus, different perspectives are vital in engineering, where a new angle often offers the best solution.
While much work is being done to lessen the divide between men and women, but even if gender roles are abolished, women and men will continue to experience the world in different ways. Women engineers can contribute perspectives that men tend to lack. Often, male engineers overlook essentially female issues, but female engineers can help engineering firms resolve problems for both male and female populations. For example, inventors and entrepreneurs Miki and Radha Agrawal are profiting greatly by making unique observations and finding new solutions.
Women Engineers Understand Opposition
Little is easy for women hoping to find career success in any field, but female engineers face an overwhelming amount of opposition. From their classroom days to their time in the workplace, women must constantly prove their worthiness in engineering. Widespread cultural stereotypes assume that women are less capable of complex math and science, are less logical, and less able to solve problems, which mean those women who persevere in engineering most exude those qualities thoroughly.
What’s more, this constant opposition helps female engineers develop toughness and a self-confidence that makes them excellent candidates for engineering leadership. After obtaining advanced online engineering degrees, women engineers can rise to a level of authority and positively influence the future treatment of women in the field. Then, the opposition might lessen and men and women might have equal opportunities for engineering jobs.
Women Engineers Are Excellent Teammates
Though prevailing cultural belief states that men compete and women cooperate, studies have found that idea to be patently untrue. A more accurate statement is: Men and women cooperate differently. Women tend to be more social in their co-working relationships, communicating transparently and often with their teammates while collaborating on related aspects of a project. Meanwhile, men tend to be task-oriented and solitary workers who cooperate by splitting up projects into discrete portions. Neither cooperation method is wrong; in fact, both can be ideal in engineering projects.
What’s more, men tend to have trouble cooperating with other men, whom they see as rivals ― and the same is true of women working with other women. Thus, a team comprising one gender alone is unlikely to boast peak productivity. Female and male engineers working together can accomplish tasks more efficiently and effectively than male engineers working alone.
Women Engineers Want to Make a Mark
Finally, most career women ― including those within engineering ― secretly want to do something meaningful. As female tech leader Diane Bryant said, “Women want to change the world; men want to rule it.” Engineering is a field uniquely equipped to change the world for the better: Civil engineers work to build better cities; biomedical engineers endeavor to save more lives; and other engineers hope to create devices that make people safer and happier. This field needs women to remind leaders of the profound impacts of engineering ― not just on men, but on everyone and everything.