Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Women who earn engineering degrees soon leave profession, study finds

Date:
August 10, 2014
Source:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Summary:
Nearly 40 percent of women who earn engineering degrees quit the profession or never enter the field, and for those who leave, poor workplace climates and mistreatment by managers and co-workers are common reasons, according to research. While women accounted for more than 20 percent of engineering school graduates over the past two decades, only 11 percent of practicing engineers are women, and only 9 percent of electronic and environmental engineers are, researchers report.

Nearly 40 percent of women who earn engineering degrees quit the profession or never enter the field, and for those who leave, poor workplace climates and mistreatment by managers and co-workers are common reasons, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd Annual Convention.

Related Articles


While women accounted for more than 20 percent of engineering school graduates over the past two decades, only 11 percent of practicing engineers are women, and only 9 percent of electronic and environmental engineers are, said Nadya Fouad, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She presented findings from the first phase of a three-year National Science Foundation study that surveyed 5,300 engineering alumnae spanning six decades, mostly from the 30 universities with the highest number of women engineering graduates and from 200 other universities.

While 62 percent of the women surveyed persisted in their careers as engineers, 11 percent never entered the field, 21 percent left more than five years ago, and 6 percent left less than five years ago. Among women who left less than five years ago, two-thirds said they pursued better opportunities in other fields while a third stayed home with children because companies didn't accommodate work-life concerns, Fouad said. Among those who went to other industries, 54 percent became executives, 22 percent were in management and 24 percent worked as staff members.

"These findings are likely to apply to women working in fields where there are less than 30 percent women. These women are more vulnerable to being pushed out because they typically aren't in the internal 'good old boys' network," Fouad said. "This may not apply to women working in other professions, but the findings do apply to management practices in all fields in terms of the importance of providing opportunities for training and advancement as well as encouraging a healthy work-life balance."

Women currently working as engineers and those who left less than five years ago showed no differences in confidence to perform engineering tasks, manage multiple life roles or navigate organizational politics, nor did they show differences in vocational interests, the study found.

Women who left engineering more than five years ago said their decision was due to caregiving responsibilities (17 percent), no opportunities for advancement (12 percent) and lost interest in engineering (12 percent). More than two-thirds continued working and among those, 55 percent were executives, 15 percent were managers and 30 percent were staff members.

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 percent 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.

"Current women engineers become a flight risk when they experience a career plateau with few advancement opportunities, poor treatment by managers and co-workers and a culture that stresses taking work home or working on weekends with no support for managing multiple life roles," Fouad said.

Survey participants did not single out any one industry as being more or less supportive of women, according to the study, which examined aerospace, transportation and utilities, construction, computer services/software and biotech.

"For organizations to retain women engineers, they first need to realize that it is not a 'women's issue' to want to spend time with their children," Fouad said. "The reasons women stay with their engineering jobs are very similar to why they leave -- advancement opportunities and work climate."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association (APA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association (APA). "Women who earn engineering degrees soon leave profession, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140810124204.htm>.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2014, August 10). Women who earn engineering degrees soon leave profession, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140810124204.htm
American Psychological Association (APA). "Women who earn engineering degrees soon leave profession, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140810124204.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Microsoft's Q3 earnings showed its tablets and cloud services are really hitting their stride. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins