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Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/03...

Read the article, THEN discuss...

Quote (CLEONIKI KESIDIS)

Growing up, I increasingly saw my good grades as a trap locking me into a single career: STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). It felt like a dystopian YA novel, and my high school report card was The Choosing. A’s in math and science? Here are your jeans and sweatshirt.

Well-meaning people lied to me. They said computer science was a great work-from-home career if I wanted children (when in fact a majority of women quit STEM because the culture of poor work-life balance makes it too difficult to raise a family), that STEM careers are secure (actually the industry has frequent layoffs and is very competitive), and more....

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Interesting take on the topic.

I agree with the sentiment that pushing girls toward STEM careers just because they are 'good at math' when they may not enjoy an actual STEM career is doing them a disservice.

However, I think the changes that the author is calling for- changes to culture and changes to how women in STEM careers are viewed by their peers- are contingent on building a critical mass of voices calling for those changes.

The civil rights movement in the US was successful because its leaders were able to win the hearts and minds of a vast number of oppressed citizens, and mobilize them to speak out.

The more women moving into STEM fields, the more potential there is for people in STEM fields to speak about what they feel are necessary cultural changes.

In short, it's much harder to change a culture when you're not part of it than it is from the inside.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Just read the last sentence: "Feminists should encourage girls to pursue goals based on their dreams, not their abilities."

"For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert"
Arthur C. Clarke Profiles of the future

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
The author made some good points. However, she presupposes that there is some kind of shortage of people with STEM educations. She's not alone- this assumption underlies the drive on the part of some to encourage girls (and boys) into STEM educations.

The exact opposite is true. The looming STEM shortage is a long lived myth, with well understood underpinnings and clear beneficiaries who work hard to keep the myth alive.

It is important that the artificial sex stigma be removed, not just from STEM careers but also from the trades etc., so that all can pursue what truly interests them without encountering bias and other bad treatment. But there is absolutely no room for the guilting that the author encountered, nor is it reasonable to expect that the best way to do this is by stacking the applicant pool.

It is equally important that people not be herded into saturated professions, especially if a sense of duty is being used to goad people into professions viewed as some kind of priority for a political or social goal (such as addressing a historical sex imbalance). In fact, a shortage is good motivation for employers to change bad work environments for the betterment of all employees irrespective of their gender. A surplus is a strong push in quite the opposite direction.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Valid points and good suggestions for improvement.

I disagree with the negative opinion of suggesting more women invest in a STEM related career.

In any system, a minority group is able to be oppressed because it's convenient for the majority group to do so. It's often easy because the population favors the majority and they're able to put systems in place that support them. They have enough people to not lose opportunity. They have enough people to fill jobs. They have enough people to keep the train on the tracks, so they have no reason to let other people drive.

I think when the population numbers even out, it becomes less and less convenient to continue discriminatory practices, or work cultures that leave you without a talent-pool large enough to pick from.

On an /individual/ level, though, I do agree that everyone would be happier if they can find a job that suits their dreams. However I think it's more about trying to overcome a history of preventing some people from following their dreams, by aggressively pushing them away from the "man jobs" and toward the "woman jobs".

I think it's getting better, judging by the schools in my area (elementary, junior high... I'll have to see how high school goes) - but change takes time.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

There are already a lot of road blocks and hurdles to have a successful career in engineering for anyone and other careers that utilize the same degree that pay more. Any real or merely perceived bias would likely be just another good reason to pursue another field that doesn't have so may question marks. Manufacturing has a lot of question marks with how the workforce has continually been dwindling due to automation. Any group that has questions about its future and concerns of bias likely would stay out of that all together, as well. Bias though doesn't have to be real. Perceived is enough.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The thing that stands out to me the most about this article is that the author is judging what is arguably one of (if not multiple) of the broadest career segments based upon a single year in one field, at one company. Granted, talking out your backside seems to be the name of the game with our "media" today, but common sense should apply at some point.

Thinking on this further, I disagree with almost every point. She argues that STEM = long hours and high stress. I'd ask how she defines those. Working 8-10/day 5x/week in a heated/cooled office with a fairly flexible schedule regarding breaks and time-in/time-out seems pretty dam easy to me compared to my time in the military which included working outside most of the year, weeks and months in the field with no time off with the ever present risk of being killed. If she's worried about work-life balance try being overseas for a year or more, or working third shift here stateside. If she's worried about stress try having someone's life literally in your hands as a first responder or otherwise in healthcare. Heck even compared to most "safe" jobs in the trades mine is a really cushy job, tho I do worry occasionally about the health effects of too much sitting and not enough exercise throughout the day. She apparently thought she could work from home, JMO but I'd say she has a much better shot of that in a STEM field than most others. She claims maternity/parental leave in STEM fields suck, IME 6-12 weeks seems common regardless of job sector with special accommodations easily granted when necessary. She's worried about job stability, I cant think of any more secure that is non-union. She claims the field is full of gender bias and sexual harassment but again, good luck elsewhere, IME STEM fields tend to have the most respectful and utterly professional staff of any. Not to downplay the true cases of harassment and discrimination that occur, but I suspect like many she has misconstrued the reasons behind others' reactions to her. A former female colleague insisted similar - as a woman she'd never get ahead, even with a female engineer as our division VP and many in senior leadership. My response was that no she wouldn't bc like myself she wasn't in the correct cliques/social circles.

Regardless, good luck to the author. I hope that she can find something she enjoys and finally can take responsibility for her life rather than blaming others. I also hope she does not go into teaching.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

So the author identifies a multifaceted problem by saying that girls are under represented in the classes that would enable success in STEM majors and the women who do pursue a STEM career face cultural obstacles in the work place. So, as I'm sure many of us have seen in our work, a complicated problem sometimes has a complicated solution. To me, the author seemingly wants to walk away from it all because there isn't one elegant answer.

I echo the assertion that to overcome the disparities women face in the technical professions (engineering and skilled trades alike), there needs to be more of them so that the group is not discounted and no one particular women is over scrutinized to pass judgement on "her type". There is even the "token effect" of allowing some women proper agency in their career just to say there is no problem. Solving these cultural problems helps make the fight to level the field for girls in the classroom more productive, because you can point to an equitable job market where your skills determine your worth regardless of gender. However, the fight to level the educational gap is a distinct problem. Girls are pressured by various parts of society to turn away from pursuing technical work because that is the man's domain, they aren't encouraged to stick with something difficult ("Don't worry about it, just go get your Mrs. degree if you can't hack it." of all the nonsense!) though this trend had been turning for some time. So, specialized attention is needed for girls so they do fall off the track before they can determine a STEM career may or may not be for them.

The author's last sentence does not sit well with me, but if we take it as true, is it fair that we deny girls the full chance to find out if their dreams take them down the STEM path and then tell them "follow your dreams"? Rather than discourage efforts to ensure we buildup supply of capable women to take on technical work because that environment is not conducive to fair treatment, we should acknowledge that the environment has problems, acknowledge that anyone could be contributing to it, and take an interest in trying to remedy the problem day by day.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The underlying thesis of both linked articles is "Women are just one thing". Poppycock. I know women who have no issue with the "work-life balance" in an engineering career. Just like I know men who do have that issue. Women are exactly as diverse as men are. For every gender stereotype you can find a significant portion of the population that fits it, a significant portion that absolutely does not fit it, and the largest portion that has some of the stereotypical traits, but not most of those traits.

If I were to say "all blacks can sing". I would be making a racist statement. If I were to say "women have a hard time with long work hours", I would be making just as reprehensible a sexist statement. There are something less than 5 million engineers in the world and about 4 billion adults between the ages of 22 and 65. That says that about 0.1% or 1 in 1,000 adults are practicing engineers. If every sub-division you can make of the human race has about the same mix of talents, then something like 1 woman in 1000 would be qualified by talent, temperament, and commitment, just like 1 in 1000 men would be qualified to be engineers.

I think that a major reason that the engineering (and the rest of STEM) is underrepresented by women who have the appropriate abilities is wholly because we as a society (not just we as men) insist on treating women differently from the way we treat men. My 8 year old grand son wanted a baby-doll so he could play the game that my 7 year old grand daughter was playing. Good for him. My 14 year old grand daughter has decided she wants to be a soldier and is taking Jr ROTC. Good for her. Both of their parents have rejected gender stereotypes and are working to facilitate their children being in a position to realize their abilities. The problem is treating girls as a group instead of as individuals who happen to have the same plumbing.

Making generalities about people based on a grouping as broad as gender is hurtful to society as a whole. On forms I fill in the "race" blank with "human" and the "sex" blank with "Infrequent". The sooner bureaucrats and politicians stop making decisions based on broad groupings the sooner we get to a society that people can contribute up to their ability.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The author is, sadly, a noob. She completely blows off the girls in STEM programs, just to concentrate on HER problem with women in STEM careers. No wonder she's leaving her profession for something else; she can't rationally think through a problem. While there are inequalities and issues for women after college graduation, the lack of women getting to that stage after college is woefully low, and girls in STEM is a barely adequate start. There are huge cultural impediments to girls staying in STEM, and those impediments are part and parcel to the rest of the problems that prevent women from getting into, and staying in, STEM.

This all starts with the "pink" aisle in the toy section of any large store. Starting from age 2, children are culturally programmed to stay in their pink aisle, and not want anything to do with the other aisles in the toy section. THIS is the root cause problem, which is that parents are seldom thinking getting their daughters into STEM. If parents were more interested in STEM for their daughters, pink aisles would shrink. The next issue is that teachers have latent and hidden biases against girls doing well in STEM. This has been shown to be the case in studies where girls in STEM classes devoid of boys do much better and are more confident of their work and learning. Only then can the problems the author referred to can be addressed.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

the article would be more relevant or useful if it compared STEM jobs to alternative employment . The author apparently was only employed at a single STEM job and has had no other employment experience to compare that job to. As far as I can tell, most STEM jobs are regular full time jobs with full benefits and are usually desk jobs that do not impose any physical demands that may place women at a disadvantage, so those jobs should be preferable to that of a car mechanic, showroom salesperson, utility pole technician, truck driver, or virtually any other job available in modern times . Considering the pace of the trend to either outsource work or to transfer the work to robots or to computer automation, the key issue should be whether the job will last long enough to pay off the home mortgage.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The issue of coercing students into STEM - especially Engineering - just because they do well in math and science at high school or lower division college is real, and something I've brought up before. My wife was hounded by her algebra prof to join the engineering program when she was at college because she did well in his class even though she had no interest in Engineering.

However it applies to male students as well as females so I don't think it's a major factor of sex discrimination in Engineering.

Many of the more disgruntled posters on this site (mostly male as far as I know) seem to have fallen into Engineering just because they were good at math and science in high school and teachers & counselors pushed them that direction.

The work life balance issue is real and potentially a bigger issue for women due in part to biology re the role they play in reproduction but also perhaps more so due to cultural norms. However, other careers such as law and medicine seem to have more females while potentially having worse work life balance at least for the first few few years so is this really a major factor in the disparity in Engineering?

As to that 'live your dream' entitled nonsense, seriously? Sometimes a little 'suck it up' goes a long way.

Please note, I'm not a female engineer and barring extensive surgery or being wrong about reincarnation never will be. I'm also probably a little sexist as much as I honestly believe men and women are equal. So take what I say on the topic with as much salt as you see fit.

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What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Cry me a river! Most people change careers a few times in their lifetime. She is no different but wants to blame someone for her mistake. We all make mistakes. Learn a lesson and move on...

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
Can you seriously blame this young woman for feeling that she was herded into something that was a bad fit for her? Or for feeling that she's "letting her side down" by bailing from the career she was herded into? She has EVERY right to feel that way!

Sure, people sometimes wake up and realize they're on the wrong path for whatever reason. She's not bitching about that- she's merely saying that she feels hard done by because she was RECRUITED into the path she took- by well-meaning but misguided people!

Again, we shouldn't be recruiting people into STEM professions, irrespective of their sex. Rather, we should be encouraging kids of both sexes to not make decisions very early in their education that hamstring them later, when they grow up a bit and discover what their true interests are. And there is a not-so-fine line between inspiring interest in science and technology by demonstrating how unbelievably cool it can be, and recruiting kids into science and technology careers. When that recruitment is motivated by an irrational fear of a MYTHICAL future shortage of STEM workers, it's doubly difficult to take!

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

Can you seriously blame this young woman for feeling that she was herded into something that was a bad fit for her?

Sure, people sometimes wake up and realize they're on the wrong path for whatever reason. She's not bitching about that- she's merely saying that she feels hard done by because she was RECRUITED into the path she took- by well-meaning but misguided people!

By your logic, if she's not responsible for simple decisions like her education and career, what decisions IS she actually responsible for? If she commits a crime bc of peer pressure or other propaganda is she responsible for that? How about if she enlists but finds reality isn't a glorified war movie? How about if she has a kid she can't support despite the reality tv shows that make it look glamorous?

The reality of life is that we ALL have people giving us their opinion of what we should do for dam near every decision in life and in many instances even when there is no decision to make. Reality also is that to be successful we need to learn to ignore most of them, even the parents, mentors, etc that we trust most. If she made mistakes those are hers to own as an adult, no one else's. She failed to research her path and logically consider whether/not it was the best one for her, nobody forced her down that road.

Not to sidetrack, but I don't believe there is anything "mythical" about the STEM shortage, only what is considered a STEM career. 25 years ago classifying a person working the first, low level IT help desk as being in a STEM field would've been common and correct IMHO as most were college educated "computer" folks. Today that same career is pretty far from STEM, many IT contractors no longer require a high school diploma or even basic language skills for those same positions yet the statisticians and media keep including them in their studies and conclusions.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"Can you seriously blame this young woman for feeling that she was herded into something that was a bad fit for her?"

When did "STEM" force her into staying in her major in high school or college? My brother was going to major in EE up until senior year in high school, because he thought he was supposed to follow in my footsteps, but, realized, early enough, on his own, that structural and civil were more to his liking. On the other hand, my best friend in high school, who I thought was going to major in EE, went through 4 other majors and two colleges before settling in on EE as a super-senior.

The fact that the author essentially had no opinion or was too weak-willed to stand her ground has no bearing on whether girls, or boys, should be encouraged to pursue STEM; in fact, the earlier the better, as that allows them time to figure what their true passions are, and allows them to pursue them without excessive lost time.

At what time in her 4 "miserable years" did STEM shackle her to anything? And just because she was too noob to take control of her own destiny until after college, that does not mean that everyone else is like her, and should not be an indication to discourage females from STEM. I think that for every one of these tales of woe, there is another person who, if not for STEM programs, might have be consigned to classical and stereotypical "feminine" careers. She spouts statistics and mores from the 1980s to bolster her case, while the actual world has seen fit to make parental leave available for all sexes.

To top everything off, she's pursuing a "Master's degree in another field." What's up with that? Is she ashamed of her true calling? She should be proud of her choices and proclaim them to the world.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

She can be upset all she wants, rightfully or not, it's her choice. However, to blame a great program for her indecisions and wrong decisions is not okay - in fact, that is what is wrong with our society today - it's always someone else's fault, I did no wrong. Accept it, learn from it, and move on. I would bet 90% of the people in that program feel quite the opposite of her but she needs to blame someone cause she doesn't make mistakes, someone else does.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I bet there are more miserable men who are good at math that got cowed into STEM jobs than women. To me, this just an article about yet another person who got the right degree for the wrong reasons - she just happens to be a woman. There is far less social pressure for technically inclined women to become engineers than men, whether they want to or not, so I don't feel sorry for her or other women in that regard. There is an actual group targeted at encouraging women to enter the technical field whereas men feel the pressure from the entire world as it already is.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

6
Ok. A bunch of men discussing how a woman should think, or feel, or behave, is getting a bit old.

Moving on now.

Please remember: we're not all guys!

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

8
When you are a child, you don't know jack about anything. If an adult comes to your school and gives you a song and dance about the benefits of a valid profession, you'll more than likely believe them. Some people are born sales people and can make anything look great.

I know a man that was in medical school then determined he didn't want to be a doctor. He then went into engineering and remained there. Last time I talked with him, he believed he would have been happier being a painter. He was not a noob, is not dumb, flakey, etc. Yet he had trouble deciphering life and what he wanted from it.

I've had women ask me to speak before female students in their areas of influence. When they learned what I would tell them, I was quickly dropped as a speaker for STEM. That is not OK with me because the young girls need to understand what they are going to face in STEM.

Young boys need to understand it, too. The hours are long and the treatment of being a commodity is unpleasant. Engineers feel isolated from people, according to some I know, and would have felt more fulfilled had they pursued another profession that involved being around people more. But, they were sold on engineering because it's a good way to make money, if you are at least competent with math and science.

One of my friends wants me to discuss STEM with his students but, again, I cannot make it negative. I can discuss the problems I have experienced but those have to be positive because the goal is to convince them to pursue STEM. My presentation had to be approved, which is understandable. I am forthright about not lying to youngsters about the demands and politics in STEM careers because that will do nothing but a disservice to them. I will not encourage youngsters to pursue STEM simply because they are good at math and science. They need to decide how to apply their abilities and skills to something they are interested in not a career someone is selling them.

I plan to challenge them to think about what they want from life first. Then challenge them with what legacy, if any, they want to leave. Then challenge them to achieve it and not quit because, if you quit, you remove yourself from the solution. I want them to think about what they want to be doing in 10 years, 20 years, etc. and who they want to do it with? What kind of people do you want to work with, for, and serve? At 10AM Monday morning fifteen years from now, what do you want to be doing? Do you see multiple avenues of growth and progression over your life? Do you see doing the same job for 40 years? There are no wrong answers or embarrassing or shameful answers either. There are no sad answers. There are simply answers, very personal answers.

Life is full of choices. It is work to make those choices. I know people, intelligent people, that have lived a long time without that cognizance until I mentioned it to them. Their parents never taught them they had choices let alone how to make good choices. We're just supposed to figure it out, it seems. I think most people are raised thinking they are to move through life like a robot and let life happen to them and that aspects of life become fixed. I fell into that trap and I didn't realize what happened until I read Mindset by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. I also recommend to young people to learn about human dynamics to understand what is happening in their interpersonal relationships as well as their intrapersonal relationship.

As I listen to engineers, I hear complaints from quite a few about long hours, too few resources, hard to squeeze in vacation, too much work because of layoffs and people were never replaced, etc. I learned that I could run a marathon but I could not run one every day or even every week. Eventually, it catches up with you. Some vendors I've talked with are hearing more complaints than me and they recognize a lot of engineers are very unhappy in their jobs. If you are under great stress and you cannot get adequate down time, your body will ensure you get it.

I think our culture needs to change and the writer adequately captured that point.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I think the complaint about being treated as "commodities" to be misplaced; EVERYONE is treated as a commodity, even POTUS' and CEOs. Certainly, anyone who bills by the hour or by the patient or by the piece part, is essentially a commodity. If anyone thinks that doctors aren't treated like commodities, they're sadly mistaken; PAs and NPs are treating patients under the supposed supervision of an MD, but the bottom line is the the fact that this improves the bottom line, but means that someone with about half the education and training gets to treat patients and make about 70% of the salary. The specialists traditionally have made lots of money, but they're being squeezed as well.

CEOs and management are commodities as well, they get hired and fired pretty much on a whim or a turn of the stock price. There's not much respect there, either.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
lacajun, thanks so much for a breath of fresh air on this topic. Your honesty is absolutely refreshing.

The key in STEM promotion to young people isn't STEM promotion at all: it's merely making sure that kids don't close off their options to pursue anything related to math and science too soon by dropping the necessary academic level courses in high school. The kids need to make up their own minds, rather than having a particular profession sold to them like soap or new cars.

Engineering IS a great profession- for some. It ideally suits my interests and aptitudes and though I'm sure I'd have had a fulfilling life had I chosen something else in science, I think for me engineering was a better fit by far. But that it worked for me is no guarantee that it is the right choice for others. If I hadn't been a combination of lucky and smart, I'd have been very disappointed with the income potential of my professional choice, though. The only reason I managed to make what I consider to be a living commensurate with the value of the services I provide was by the good fortune of finding a company which treats its employees as more than wage slaves- and which allows them the opportunity to take a true ownership position in their company. That has made all the difference. Many engineers are nowhere nearly as lucky as I've been.

We as a profession need to stop confusing the benefit which engineering brings to society, which is inarguably very great indeed, with the benefit of engineering as a career option. That still is a great option- but only for some. Locally here in Canada, engineering has become far less attractive as a career option than in previous generations due to sheer numbers on the supply side. Engineering is not an option with limitless marketplace potential, nor is it in any kind of labour market shortage, nor is there any benefit to society from having vastly more people study engineering than we need to work as engineers.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

MM,

I agree with almost everything in your post, except the last part of the last sentence. An engineering education teaches students skills which are very transferrable to many other fields, so although some graduates may not ultimately be able to find employment in engineering, or even wish to work in engineering, I don't agree that their education was wasted and that these people don't benefit society. Some of them may even go on to make a better living than they would have if they'd stayed in engineering.

Pamela

Excellent post. Your efforts to provide an unbiased presentation which shows the good, the bad and the ugly of engineering is exactly what is needed. I'm really pleased you recognise that this needs to be presented equally regardless of gender too. The folks who portray engineering as some utopian career choice are being less than honest with those they are presenting to, and your effort to present this honestly and accutrately should be applauded, not silenced.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
ScottyUK- a small surplus is traditional and useful- 70% of eng grads working as engineers or eng managers is quite normal and not an indication of a serious oversupply. A surplus to the extent where more than twice as many engineering grads work outside the profession than in it, and where more eng grads work in occupations where a university degree of any kind is not required, is what I'm talking about. That's the reality in Canada now and for the forseeable future. And if that situation is OK, or desirable, why isn't it happening for any of the other professions to the same extent?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

moltenmetal,

"If I hadn't been a combination of lucky and smart, I'd have been very disappointed with the income potential of my professional choice, though."
If I assign the x-axis to Lucky and put Smart on the y-axis, then I think I more of a 3rd quadrant-type of engineer.
Probably it is the explanation of my disappointment.

Food for thought.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

If it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have any luck at all. winky smile

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I think this MD hits a few notes on the commodity problem arising in medicine. Z Dogg MD aka Dr. Damania TEDMED He's quite entertaining in making his points.

This furthered my understanding about the current state of engineering, from a lawyer's perspective. The Enigma of Engineering's Industrial Exemption to Licensure: The Exception that Swallowed A Profession Paul M. Spinden Liberty University, pspinden@liberty.edu It's long but worth the time or, at least, it was for me.

I agree that we have developed into a throw away society not only with material possessions but people. I've been thinking about it but am not certain about any concrete thoughts as yet.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

That is quite a funny document, or at least the first few pages kept me awake


Exemptions


(1) engineers working under the supervision of a licensed engineer
who takes responsibility for the unlicensed engineer’s work; (2) engineers
employed by public utilities; (3) engineers employed by the federal government;
(4) engineers employed by a state government; and (5) “in-house” engineers
employed by a manufacturing or other business firm (known as the “industrial
exemption”)

He seems to think that (5) is the odd one out. Quite why 2 3 and 4 are a legally superior situation is never explained.

"How does a state justify requiring
a florist to have a license, no matter where he or she works,15 but does not require an engineer, whose negligence can kill,16 to obtain a license simply because he or
she works for an industrial firm? "

Well go on buster, explain why a florist needs a license. The only reason I can think of is to establish a state licensed monopoly via restriction of trade. Q E D

I fell asleep at that point.


Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

JME but I have heard every complaint mentioned in this thread in every position I have ever held from a decade in the trades to a decade now in engineering. Relative or absolute measurement; its all about frame of reference. Should those considering engineering be made aware of "long" hours and all the other gripes mentioned? Personally I would call it a stretch.

Quote:

A surplus to the extent where more than twice as many engineering grads work outside the profession than in it, and where more eng grads work in occupations where a university degree of any kind is not required, is what I'm talking about.....why isn't it happening for any of the other professions to the same extent?

Do our northern neighbors truly not have a glut of business and other "arts" graduates resulting in pathetically low incomes? If no then I have a few relatives within easy commuting distance. Here its been a sad joke for decades that many would be better served simply working than attending college in hopes of getting a white-collar job, I had a professor for both business 101 and personal finance who was rather unpopular with the administration for pointing out the poor ROI for various degrees. At the time a bachelor's in business administration was worth on average ~$15/hr starting.

Edited only to save space btw, not meant to distort.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I'd also point out that Spinden holds AMA up as some sort of earlier paradigm, yet demonstrably the life expectancy of people has increased since the AMA lost some of its dominance. Therefore, overall, the industry works. Same with crash stats for vehicles. By and large the fatality rate of vehicles is down to engineering, and although roads may be whacked together by PEs the cars that are smashing into each other are engineered by industry exempt engineers.

Here's the history of motor fatalities in the USA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicl...

That is since 1970 the death rate has fallen by more than a third, despite increasing speeds and vehicle-miles.

It may be that NHTSA and FMVSS and NCAP and IE engineers are not the most efficient ways of enforcing automotive safety compared with PEs, but he doesn't make a convincing case as to why it is worse.


Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Should 2,3,4 be legal either? I would say no. Probably a big part of the issue moltenmetal refers to with grads being underemployed is Canada is due to the industrial exemption in Ontario; this doesn't exist elsewhere in the country.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
It's actually pretty interesting. The labour market data indicate that about 30% of "engineering" jobs are being done by people without engineering degrees. These people vary from tradespeople and drafters to technicians, technologists, scientists etc. Many of those people would be out of a job and an engineering grad in their place if it weren't for the industrial exemption and, even more importantly, the certificate of authorization which permits corporations to do professional engineering as long as one P.Eng. is willing to be the signatory for the engineering work done by that corp. There are corps out there who don't have a single P.Eng. on staff- they retain a consultant to be their signatory for whatever professional engineering they do, a practice referred to in the industry as a "rent a stamp"...

Sadly, since only 30% of eng grads work as engineers, even eliminating the C of A and the industrial exemption in Ontario wouldn't make a dent in the under-utilization of engineering grads in Canada. The elimination of the C of A isn't even being talked about, and Ontario's government just recently totally refused to eliminate the industrial exemption after agreeing previously that they would. Industry lobbying shot that down pronto.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Reading a few random articles about Ontario's "industrial exemption" it appears that Canada doesn't legally consider manufacturing or product development to be engineering in the manner the US does. Their "industrial exemption" seems to simply allow industry to use unlicensed engineers in civil matters on self-owned property, whereas ours allows our "engineers" to do their jobs in product design manufacturing. This may be the blackhole of non-engineering that MM's survey is losing grads into, my understanding is that our exempted engineers are ~80% of the engineers we have stateside.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

We have possibly stronger property rights laws in the US, so while stuff that's on your own property need to be code-compliant, they don't need a licensed engineer to do the work, unless the public is potentially at risk.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

As for "jobs are being done by people without engineering degrees," that's a bit misleading, since that means that the math and physics that are currently employed as our systems engineers don't count. Even if there were license requirements, they could still get licensed, although there is no official designation for such, nor is there an exam for such.

While I don't want to get back into that debate, licensing our systems engineers would indeed be pointless governmental meddling, as they have no purview on the subject of public safety, which is what licensing is ostensibly for. It certainly is not, and should not, be for the purposes of limiting employment or employability.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
Our industrial exemption is very narrow as written, but it is enforced (unenforced) very broadly. It exempts only people doing engineering of a non-structural nature on their own employer's means of production, i.e. a millwright doing some work on their employer's assembly line. It does not set aside the requirement for a P.Eng.'s involvement whenever a separate set of demand-side legislation calls for one, i.e. under the TSSA Act for boilers, pressure vessels, fuel burning equipment/fuels storage etc., or under the building code, or when pre-start health and safety reviews/inspections are required etc. etc. It essentially reasons that an employee being injured on the job as a result of poor engineering is less of a concern for the provincial government than a member of the public being injured as a result of poor engineering. An attempt to justify the elimination of the exemption on the basis of changes in attitudes toward workplace safety fell on deaf ears- the industry lobby likes things the way they are and doesn't want anyone telling them that they have to hire engineers.

In the US, there is a very much broader industrial exemption, under the assumption that many engineered hazards are covered by product liability. That of course confuses prevention of harm with compensation of the victims after the fact. The broad US exemption and the fact that Ontario trades as much or more with the US than with the rest of Canada is the excuse for the exemption here, whereas none of the other Canadian provinces have such an exemption.

But the C of A is the much bigger issue. Lawyers don't permit corps to practice law in their own name, and in my view, neither should engineers.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

CWB1,

I am going to check and see if my old employer had/has a certificate of authorization. I am not sure that they did, and I don't think any senior managers are PEngs (PEs) at the moment. The managers back when I started were PEngs. When you manufacture stuff, you generally have the ability to test something and verify that it is environmentally sealed, explosion proof, crash safe, not a shock hazard, etc. You cannot test buildings, bridges and other large structures, and large pressure vessels. You have to take somebody's word for it that they are safe. It helps if that person is part of a regulated profession.

How do you work out if someone is working as an engineer. I am now a "product developer, mechanical". I am a certified engineering technologist. Quite a few of my co-workers are professional engineers. I am aware of at least one other CET. If "engineer" is not in the job title, does it means none of us are (apparently) doing engineering?

--
JHG

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

That's the correct reasoning. If you can prototype it and then create replicas for use by non employees then codes and regs only need to define outcomes, not design methods. If members of the public are buying uniquely designed and untestable things then they need to know that they are designed in robust and failsafe manner, and in the absence of prototypes that means design by codified methods. And that's where registration comes in.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"If members of the public are buying uniquely designed and untestable things then they need to know that they are designed in robust and failsafe manner, and in the absence of prototypes that means design by codified methods. And that's where registration comes in."

Why is registration involved? We've been down that argument before; there's nothing in the registration process that ensures that there are "codified methods," for which there are not, particularly in electronic equipment. Registration simply ensures that there's a name to sue after the fact.

Nevertheless, a UL listing does ensure that someone paid to have the device tested and checked out, and that's better than being able to sue the designer after the fact. And, that does not require registration on the part of the design engineer.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I'd say, but wouldn't die at the barricades in defence of it, that if your design has testable outcomes then there is no ethical requirement to stick to a codified design process, since the proof is in the pudding. Whereas a boiler that is unique must be designed to code, using standard techniques that have evolved over time, because its fatigue life cannot be tested.

There is a separate issue of designing to get around the tests, the rather formidable German registration system for engineers didn't seem to help much with Dieselgate.

Cheers

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Therein lies the irony of engineering - new technology is developed mostly by unlicensed folks, many of whom do not have engineering degrees and whose main claim to the title is their ability. Meanwhile, to design structures using well-established, often antiquated methods one needs a license. Even more ironic is that the attitude of the licensed guild is often to push for more licensing as a means of demonstrating ability.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"new technology is developed mostly by unlicensed folks"

Perhaps, in the dim past, licensing might have meant something relevant, but there's movement afoot to license software engineers, but to what end?

What's the government's interest in mandating the licensing? Would that have prevented Stuxnet? Is the California PE Board going to chase down the perpetrators of WannaCry for programming without a license? Are we going force the programmers who left their browser design open to the Heartbeat exploit to be sued or fined for negligence?

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Will engineering registration expansion have anything to do with the price of tea in China?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Speaking of programming, I just ran across some lazy programming in my credit card processing. I had noticed, the last time I re-financed, that I was getting dinged by the underwriter for "carrying a balance" on my credit card, even though I was paying it off fully every month. Additionally, it occurred to me that my credit score probably reflected that as well. So, I thought that a simple way to game that would be to pay off the balance before the statement date, but to make life simpler on myself, I would simply make a large payment and carry a negative balance on the statement. After doing that for a while, my credit score did actually go up, by 30 points.

However, after a while, the credit card company randomly decided to issue me a refund for my negative balance. I called and told them that I wanted no refunds unless I specifically requested one, and they all said, "No problem." 4 months later, I get another refund check, and my statement balanced popped positive. So, call again, and get to talk to a supervisor, who finally explained that the "computer" saw that I carried a negative balance for 3 months and automatically refunded the money. So, I point out that the programmers were obviously lazy, because the negative balances weren't the same money, and to prove it, we went through the last statement line by line, and we could clearly see that I made a prepayment on 5/5, and the dumbsh*t programmers were too lazy to write code to look at daily balances, so less than 10 days later, the program kicked out a refund, resulting in a positive statement closing balance 4 days later, because the programmer assumed that 3 consecutive months of negative balance meant the same money was sitting for 3 months, even though it clearly had not. Unclear whether this will ever get resolved.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote (IRstuff)



Perhaps, in the dim past, licensing might have meant something relevant, but there's movement afoot to license software engineers, but to what end?

A lot of computer crackers assume they will find jobs in security after they are caught and convicted of whatever it is they did. It would be nice to have someone certify computer professionals, and withhold certification from the vandals and crooks. What sort of person should be allowed access to hard drives containing information that you signed NDAs on?

--
JHG

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"It would be nice to have someone certify computer professionals, and withhold certification from the vandals and crooks. "

So, you want to guarantee that they'll never be positive contributors to society, and piss them off enough to do something newer and badder? Even Kevin Mitnick was reformable.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

IRstuff,

I've read your horror story. All I can say, just wait 'til hordes of self-driving cars hit the road.

"For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert"
Arthur C. Clarke Profiles of the future

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

A pox on both their houses. The guy who wrote it was an ass, and the Google hierarchy, sadly not quoted in that yahoo link, are no better. Sacking someone for writing an internal memo is, at first sight, an excellent way of doing exactly what he was complaining about.

Cheers

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

If you're dumb enough to write a memo saying "men are better than women at this job" at your work you deserve to be fired imo.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

" Sacking someone for writing an internal memo is, at first sight, an excellent way of doing exactly what he was complaining about.
In the US, his memo could be considered evidence of a hostile work environment, and the creation of that is a fireable offense.

Dumb, or not, he appeared to be serious, so there's the whole gender bias thing, which is apparently more endemic than a simple question of encouraging females to pursue STEM

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

If you're dumb enough to write a memo saying "men are better than women at this job" at your work you deserve to be fired imo.

Your description is pretty far off. His post and the arguments contained therein are pretty well balanced IMHO if read in full context with multiple disclaimers that as a proud liberal he personally does not agree with every argument contained therein but shared to provide balanced viewpoints. The main point of his post was actually that both business and employees suffer when folks are unwilling to discuss opposing viewpoints, case in point being Google's openly discriminating in favor of women and minorities with training and promotion opportunities to meet internal diversity quotas. The fact that the media is smearing him as evil by assuming him to be that which he's arguing against is classic irony. This also wasnt a memo btw, this was posted on one of many internal corporate forums. Had you said that its dumb to post on a corporate forum criticizing your employer I'd agree in most cases, however Google holds itself up as this flawless ideological utopia so to Greg's point - it shows that they really arent open to others' opinions as they claim.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"if read in full context with multiple disclaimers that as a proud liberal he personally does not agree with every argument contained therein but shared to provide balanced viewpoints."

Agree to disagree; his premise is one sided, that Google's hiring practices and environment are geared to promote women into positions that they don't really want, nor are really interested in. He makes the claim that there are more men in management because that's what they want and what they are biologically driven to attain, and by extension, that's why there aren't more women in management.

His claim to be a liberal is belied by his recommendation to "stop alienating conservatives." Moreover, he claims to be a "classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason," and his document specifically links to the Wikipedia entry wherein it's clear that the term actually refers to what is today a libertarian and capitalist, which is typically concomitant with social conservatism. The only conclusion one can draw from his own citations and recommendations is that he's a conservative, not a liberal. He claims to be promoting discussion, but his "discussion" is that there's nothing wrong with fewer women in STEM AND management because that's what they're biologically driven to.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The good reason for firing him isn't what he wrote, but that he was stupid enough to think anything would change. It reminds me of the line in The Cloud Atlas about things not going well for those who buck the system.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

His false claim of a Ph.D. casts a lot of doubt on this young man. In reading some of the articles about Damore's actions, it's almost like he contrived the whole situation for his own purposes. Overall, he seems to lack a lot of skills necessary for management so he must be an inferior sample of the masculine gender. So, I have to conclude it's a case of sour grapes or mistaken identity of superiority to females.

This was a somewhat interesting piece...Diversity training backfires with Google engineer According to some gender bias studies, Damore's attitude is a minority attitude but that attitude is much stronger in engineering than law.

Here is his 10 page screed: Complete 10 page screed from Damore, former Google employee

IMHO, he is not balanced in many of his views and isn't balanced in his views on men either. He reveals his youth and lack of life experiences. Some of his views are offensive.

Women and other minorities know a little about how things work out trying to buck the system. When did African American males get the right to vote? Women got the right to vote when?

I watched Hidden Figures and wondered why I'd never heard one little, bitty snippet about those women and their contributions to the space program. The front for the space program, in my youth, was white male. I never thought women worked in it, let alone African American women, until Sally Ride came along. It was a pleasure to read about the women that movie is about.

Advancements in technology, medicine, society, education, etc. have changed our culture and some men cannot adapt to the changes. Michael Kimmel wrote Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era, which might be a good book to read. I've not and cannot comment.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

He makes the claim that there are more men in management because that's what they want and what they are biologically driven to attain, and by extension, that's why there aren't more women in management.

His claim to be a liberal is belied by his recommendation to "stop alienating conservatives."

This just gets better and better. He apparently did NOT complete his PhD

Careful, your bias is showing. :P

What you perceive as the author's opinion many like myself read to pretty clearly be simply stating the facts and opinions of others, hence neutral headings such as "Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech." You do not believe someone can consider opposing viewpoints much less defend them, I see this daily among colleagues who respect one another. You see something negative in failing to finish a doctoral program or being proud of being a candidate, I see more than 50% of students in Phd programs that failed while accomplishing more education than ~98% of the population.

To each their own, but the fact that he offended you does not mean you are correct.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

If you're going to link to the "10 page screed," at least link to an unedited version of it that's got its references intact. Gizmodo did a sneaky bit of hackjobbery around this thing, stripping out the images and such.

https://diversitymemo.com/

I encourage everyone to read it themselves. There are some pretty large disconnects between the material presented in the memo, and the media's portrayal of the contents of the memo. One glaring difference, for instance, is the memo guy never once claims that women are worse at programming than men are.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

He offends me by being a wolf in sheep's clothing. This is the actual document as he published it: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586-Go...

"clearly be simply stating the facts and opinions of others"

Almost half the document are his conclusions about Google's bias and how to correct them. Not once does he proffer a viewpoint counter to what you claim are only "facts and opinions of others."

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Following one of the links previous to my post led me to the gizmodo site. In comparing his document with gizmodo's version, the words are intact. I compared the first few pages then spot checked the rest of the document.

Damore clearly uses words such as, "I'm simply stating...", "I'm not saying...", "I strongly believe...", "My larger point is...", "I don't think..." demonstrating these are clearly his thoughts and he is taking ownership of his thoughts. Now perhaps I don't read very good, and often I don't, or understand English and sentence structure very good, and I don't, but the use of so many personal pronouns clearly demonstrates his ownership of his thoughts. The use of "I" and "my" clearly make him the subject of those thoughts. Otherwise, he would be using other pronouns to define the subject, such as "they" or "them." He is not shifting ownership but clearly assuming it.

His position on political correctness is silly. To ignore that groups are marginalized and excluded and the beginning, of marginalization and exclusion, often begins with words is to be divorced from reality. Being Southern, I understand. Words and actions are inextricably linked.

His claim that the left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ and sex differences) implies, because of the tone of his entire document, that women are inferior to men. He clearly claims to be a classical liberal but he clearly takes up the cause of the Far Right and pokes fun at liberals over the origins of IQ tests. To me, it seems his interpretation of history around the origins of the first IQ test is not clearly understood. Or, perhaps mine isn't.

He seems to have pulled from these researchers: Sociologist Cited by Summers Calls His Talk 'Uninformed'

And to Damore's Ph.D., these screen shots make it clear he was claiming to have a Ph.D. LinkedIn Screen Shots Before and After: Damore

The left maintains the myth of gender wage gap per Damore. That's no myth. It's fact. As it was explained to me, men are the primary bread winners of families so they are paid more. Really. I am the only bread winner for me so where does that leave me? And why does any of that matter? It is the value of the job not the cost of the family unit that bears consideration.

People I know on the Far Right are the only ones that disagree with the existence of the gender wage gap, from my experiences. Even when I have put government statistics in front of them they deny it and the data. It's all fake, even my own experiences in industry. ponder

To attribute the lack of women in tech and leadership due to biological differences is silly and akin to Larry Summers' comments years ago. Summers' protestations about his words are similar to Damore's. That means they think half of the population does not understand tech and leadership because they are, well, women. That is as silly as saying men cannot understand the hurt feelings of their children because they are, well, men after all. Men are not emotionally clueless.

He demonstrates a lack of historical knowledge and thoughtfulness on the full context of the subject even if he only limited to his Google campus, as he claimed. What he claims to want to achieve fails because he falls into the same traps as those who discriminate, regardless of the political leanings. Those traps are his own biases and moral certainty of being right. He ignores fundamentals of life and seems to want a lot more ridigity in gender roles than is warranted, necessary, or real because of his own biases. He ignores the Bell Curve a bit too much and what studies have revealed, I think.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

2

Quote:

His claim that the left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ and sex differences) implies, because of the tone of his entire document, that women are inferior to men.

I think this right here is where the public discourse about it comes off the rails.

I read through the thing four times looking for the part where he says women are worse programmers than men, and I still haven't found it. My wife (a construction estimator) did the same thing, didn't find it. Another female engineering friend (textiles) read it, didn't find it.

What I read said that women, taken as a population, might not enjoy it as much as men, taken as a population. It also said that men are more apt to sacrifice work-life balance than women, because while feminists have blown up women's gender roles quite well, nobody's done the same exercise for men. Our "gender role" is to sacrifice fun and family for work, money, status. I for one wish that male gender role would go away.

Some other critiques ... he only mentions the wage gap once, and makes no claims to it in either direction. His focus is the gap in representation in the field. He repeatedly states that pushing for a 50/50 split in employment in his field may not be possible if you think the only cause of that gap is sexism, and leave out the choices people make about their employment.

I don't know if the science he references is sound or not, but there are certainly a lot of scientists who weighed in on his side in the aftermath. Here are two examples.

http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-s...
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/no-the-goo...

I'm not saying Google isn't sexist. I have no idea. But his document didn't say Google wasn't sexist either. It just tried to draw attention to some other reasons that might lead to female employment at Google being only 20%.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
I've been staying out of this and will stay out, but wanted to thank beej67 and their wife, and wife's colleague, for reading that thing so I didn't have to.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

2
If you have the intelligence to become an engineer then you have the intelligence to *not* be an engineer.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?


The worst reason for a female to go into engineering is because "they are good in math and science in High School"
Where is the mechanical aptitude?
Coding and software are better choices.

All you have to do is ask yourself ..How many young girls ask for toy electric trains for Christmas?

Lansford

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote (lansford)

All you have to do is ask yourself ..How many young girls ask for toy electric trains for Christmas?

That is a societal issue. How many adverts have you seen that market a toy train to females? When girls are taught from birth that cooking and caring for babies is what they should be interested in, it can be hard to break them away from that.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

The worst reason for a female to go into engineering is because "they are good in math and science in High School"
Where is the mechanical aptitude?

JMO but that is the worst reason for ANYONE to go into engineering. I concur with the sentiment otherwise.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"Where is the mechanical aptitude? Coding and software are better choices."

I never had "mechanical aptitude" and did fine in EE. And why is CS not considered to be engineering, since UC Berkeley certainly has it in the school of engineering

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Comp Sci is in engineering because when it was in the Business school they kept threatening to replace the Business majors with macros. The revenge came when the Business graduates later off-shored the Comp-Sci jobs.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

6
I have read through most of this thread and I am somewhat disappointed that many are willing to turn their back on evidence based science when discussing such a serious topic as women in engineering. The only references anyone is discussing are opinion pieces and media articles. I'm sure most people are aware of the ideological forces leading gender science and sociology now days (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266914863...) and that many publications coming out of universities and academia are not evidence based science but simply politically correct dogma. This topic on gender equality has now become a driving force in most workplaces and because it is so important I encourage everyone to step back from presumption and look at this from a logical, evidence based, point of view.

A significant phenomenon that no one has addressed is the Norwegian gender equality paradox. An explanation of the paradox is explained in this documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5LRdW8xw70) and I encourage everyone to watch it as it's very interesting and also entertaining. Essentially, Norway is ranked as the most egalitarian and gender equal country in the world. They have high female representation in corporate boards (44%, http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/...), a female prime minister, equal maternity and paternity leave (over 6 months for men), and the list goes on. However, when it comes the engineering and nursing, they have incredibly low levels of gender diversity. And this is the paradox; the more egalitarian a society becomes, the less females become engineers and the less males become nurses.

In fact, as shown here (http://www.oecd.org/gender/data/gender-gap-in-educ...), this is prevalent between countries (take note that female rates in engineering are far lower than the graph shows since the graph includes science such as biology which is weighted toward females). The countries with higher gender equality show distinctly lower levels of female participation in science and engineering. And remarkably, the least egalitarian countries Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have the highest proportion of females choosing science and engineering.

This is not surprising if viewed from the perspective that there are two factors that affect the male and female decision to work in an occupation. Environmental and biological factors. As environmental factors are stripped, and the society becomes more gender equal, then the only factor left is biological and this factor is therefore emphasized to the extreme.

Regarding another statement others have said here, that children are taught during childhood to act male or female (and subsequently choose engineering or nursing) by things such as the toys their parents give them, this is anecdotal and contradicts recent studies. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222673203...) 102 babies, only 1 day old, were tested to see whether they have more interest in a human face or a mechanical object and results showed that the male infants showed a stronger interest in the mechanical object while the female infants showed a stronger interest in the face. Another separate study testing babies aged 9 to 32 months correlates with this (http://www.pitt.edu/~bertsch/Todd_et_al-2016-Infan...).

The ability to learn language and communication is also inversely proportional to prenatal hormone exposure (http://docs.autismresearchcentre.com/papers/2013_A...). Higher prenatal testosterone levels lead to difficulty in learning language and communication skills and more focus on analytical skills.

In conclusion, as I see it from looking at only fact based evidence, the gender diversity push in engineering is doomed to failure (unless society becomes less gender equal). By this I don't mean women should not pursue engineering. In fact, all the women I have ever worked with in engineering have all been talented, self motivated, intelligent engineers, and they were this way because they were not forced into it but chose it by their own free will. But to reach a 50% ratio means forcing women into engineering who have no natural interest in the field. In the same way that forcing 50% of nurses to be men (yes, that means some of you men in the forum will have to change occupation) is a pipe dream and works against the interest of both women and men.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

2
"In conclusion, as I see it from looking at only fact based evidence, the gender diversity push in engineering is doomed to failure (unless society becomes less gender equal). By this I don't mean women should not pursue engineering."

This is a misguided conclusion; even in the Youtube video was someone who responded to the effect that "women have always been caregivers," thus showing that even in that country, attitudes are not necessarily egalitarian. When contrasted to the US, one can obviously see that the US is a long ways from not needing to encourage women to find their ideal jobs and roles. It's not a question of "women should not pursue engineering" since its clearly the case in the US that women don't necessarily have a free choice in the matter. So, here's EVIDENCE of that: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/41763373.pdf?refr... This effect has been shown to have the similar effects with ethnic and gendered names in non-STEM environments as well.

We are so far from being close to gender and race neutral and yet there are people saying, "everything's fine, we don't need that." When the UC system was ordered to eliminate racial preference, the percentage Hispanic applicants and admissions dropped, and so the "evidence" is that Hispanics either aren't college material, or aren't interested in college, neither of which are true. The events of Ferguson and others show that animus and prejudice against blacks run so incredibly deep that even in the face of obvious bias, the police still can't stop themselves from following down that path. And that's with something that's only been a "thing" since the Civil War. Contrasted with millenia of gender role bias, it's not clear to me that there's really sufficient evidence that we're really free to follow only our genetics.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Maybe we're trying too hard to define a problem where one doesn't exist. We talk a lot about girls not pursuing STEM degrees and careers - but we don't seem to care that men aren't pursuing more nursing or secretarial positions. (that was an intentional bit of hyperbole) Does it really matter? Shouldn't we be much more focused on full employment for all people who are qualified to do a particular job?

I cannot make it my life goal to encourage people into careers and educations that they don't want to pursue. Is there some point that we can just accept that people are already pursuing what they want to do, and be content with that?

To point out and strive correct injustices is a noble thing; but to try to steer an outcome based on the perception the same, is not.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

2
OH GOOD LORD.

This whole thing isn't about forcing women to be interested in something they're not. That may have happened to one woman, but how many people over time have similarly complained about being forced into the family business or being a doctor when they'd rather do something else? The problem lies with women who are highly qualified and very interested in STEM being driven out of STEM by crappy attitudes, etc.

You can try and make yourself feel better about this by saying it's not really a problem if that helps you be ok, but you're just lying to yourself.

And now I'm so angry that I'm shaking. Time to walk away.

Please remember: we're not all guys!

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I'm sorry about your inability to control your emotions. Typically, that's a factor in any discussion like this. I want to believe that if there's a problem that needs to be solved, it should be given the utmost consideration. But there are facts and figures, and there's the human factor, and it's very hard to find the balance between the two. Your statements do absolutely nothing to work toward that end.

I don't know if it's a problem or not, and I'm being honest when I say that. It's not a problem that I've seen - but I'm just one person, with my own set of experiences. What I DO know for a fact, is that women are entering STEM fields at a much lower rate than men and certain minorities. I've seen no compelling evidence EVER that there is some sort of orchestrated effort to bully them out, before they enter the work force. And once again, any workplace hostility that causes ANY employee to want to leave their employment needs to be addressed, but on its own merits.

In the meantime, the discussion should still be focused on how we can expect to achieve parity in the workplace (relative to society as a whole) where it doesn't exist in the pool of educated employees for a given discipline.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"no compelling evidence EVER that there is some sort of orchestrated effort to bully them out"

I think the whole point of a lot of the postings is that there does not need to be a "orchestrated effort," if every actor in the process is biased already.

As a male, you probably didn't bother to keep track of how often females were allowed to answer questions in class, and a member of the privileged class rarely notices those out of privilege. My point about police behavior is that their responses and behavior are so ingrained that even when it's obvious to an outsider that they need to be more circumspect, they continue their behavior. Given that, we can only assume that gender bias works the same way, and the studies bear that out. Take a resume and change the between an obviously white or male name to an obviously black or female name and see how often it winds up in the round file compared to the white or male resume. That didn't take orchestration; it's already programmed into our brains.

And it may well be that genetics does play a significant role in our choices, and parity might not be the ideal operating point, but if we continue to ignore reality, we will most definitely never find out.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

IRstuff,

I don't often disgaree with you, but as one of the people who decides who gets an interview at our place I really do have a problem with your statement

Quote:

Take a resume and change the between an obviously white or male name to an obviously black or female name and see how often it winds up in the round file compared to the white or male resume. That didn't take orchestration; it's already programmed into our brains.


I've been so desperate to recruit good techs that I would interview anyone who made the rough cut based on the content of their CV (resume). I am absolutely not bothered if they're male or female. I don't care if they're black, white, brown or bright green. I frankly wouldn't care if the candidate was a dog, as long as the dog convinced me that it could do the job I need doing, to the standard I required. The UK has a chronic shortage of talent in some specialist areas, and dismissing perfectly capable candidates based on their colour or gender is something I simply couldn't afford to do even if my morals and ethics were sufficiently messed up that I wanted to. Maybe things are different in your part of the world; if this kind of thing has been your experience then I'm sorry to hear it.


What I do acknowledge is that the vast majority of candidates I get to choose from are white and male. Right now I don't get to decide who is in the pool, I just get to choose from those who put themselves forward.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

What I do acknowledge is that the vast majority of candidates I get to choose from are white and male. Right now I don't get to decide who is in the pool, I just get to choose from those who put themselves forward.

Which is exactly the point that I was making, all along. This is my perspective, as well as my observation.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

My heart grinds as I post this. It seems obvious to me that females are under represented in engineering. That is to say, there are far fewer femsle engineers than males. Now, it may be that for some reason that a 50/50 balance is not a a sensible target, but 4% or 10% doesn't seem quite right either. However the politically correct promotion system in big companies tends to suck good female engineers out into management, hence emphasising the imbalance.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Didn't say you personally were doing it, but there are enough others to be more than statistically significant. I don't know if you get all resumes directly, or if you get them from HR. If the latter, you might want to check the round file to see how many got rejected.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

That's a fair question IRstuff, although I'm pretty sure that I'm seeing every applicant given the numbers of applicants involved are low. Next time we're interviewing I'll definitely ask whether any applications were pre-screened and disregarded, and on what basis they were rejected.

I realise your earlier comment wasn't directed at me personally but I don't think I'm too far different in my outlook to other engineers in the UK. Maybe things are different here compared to the US?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I have no doubt women face some very different challenges than men, including what might be seen as borderline harassment but I have serious doubts about the "subconscious discrimination" bit in hiring. At companies I've worked, if the candidate made it past the ATS they were guaranteed at least a HR phone screen simply due to the HR process and unless there was glaring issues with the candidate they were also guaranteed a phone screen with the interviewing managers. The true filtering of employees IME is (mostly) by ATS and management after speaking to the employee, the system being set up to allow multiple managers access to a single candidate to improve placement while preventing nepotism and other nonsense.

OTOH, having sat next to females in multiple offices I have seen them struggle to remain polite and get work done due to streams of guys stopping by daily to chat for 5-10 mins each. We all enjoy a bit of bs once in awhile but some days I want to either hang a sign or start embarrassing folks as the stream of bs small-talkers seems never-ending.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I suspect that the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to more than just judging one's own competence, i.e., that it might apply to judging one's own biases. And, certainly, for those that think of themselves as completely unbiased, the biases might be quite subtle, i.e, it could well be a matter of not saying (to oneself), "this is a black-ish name, so out they go," but more likely a subconscious change in how the resume is perceived, i.e., punctuation, typeset, grammar, etc. And it might well be that at the end of the process, you feel truly disappointed that the black, or female-sounding named person wasn't suitably qualified and you had to reluctantly hire a white male. Stephen Jay Gould gave an example once about trying to compare cranial capacity of whites and blacks, and the original researchers came to the disappointing conclusion that blacks had smaller brain capacity, even though, when the same skulls were examined later, there was no statistic difference in capacity.

As a sort of case in point, we recently bid on a contract and was rejected because our cost proposal data wasn't formatted correctly. Now, they could have just been a*holey, but it's more likely that they really didn't like what we had to say and were looking for some way to reject us. Surely, had they loved our proposal, they would have figured out a way to get us to re-submit the cost volume with the desired formatting of data.

And, again, these effects, particularly in hiring, which have been well-studied are subtle, but statistically significant. It's like casino games, a tiny edge in odds means that, over time, the house wins.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

OTOH, having sat next to females in multiple offices I have seen them struggle to remain polite and get work done due to streams of guys stopping by daily to chat for 5-10 mins each. We all enjoy a bit of bs once in awhile but some days I want to either hang a sign or start embarrassing folks as the stream of bs small-talkers seems never-ending.

That's not even a valid point for the conversation, that last one. Females receiving an undue amount of male attention isn't STEM specific. That's pretty much how human sexuality works.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

solid7,

I agree that that's how it's supposed to work in nature, but in the workplace men really should be able to keep their libido in check. There's a world of difference between a few moments of friendly conversation with a female colleague at the coffee machine / water cooler compared to disturbing her while she's trying to do her job. Maybe us Brits are just well-behaved and know where the boundaries lie. smile


IRstuff,

Badly presented CV's do indeed get rejected from time to time, and sometimes the errors get pointed out to the candidate during the interview while they're busy telling me what a detail-conscious and thorough person they are. My concern is that if someone sends me a document which is important to them but which is full of grammatical errors, how much care will they take with jobs that are important to me? Errors in commercial bids are dealt with in a similar manner.

Plenty white male candidates have had their CV's binned or have had a very rough ride through the interview because they couldn't be bothered to proof-read their application, and of the few companies who have had their bids rejected I think all had white male customer-facing staff. It really isn't anything to do with race or gender in my experience: it's down to due care and attention, which is a fairly level playing field for all to compete on regardless of colour or gender.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote (ScottyUK)

solid7,

I agree that that's how it's supposed to work in nature, but in the workplace men really should be able to keep their libido in check. There's a world of difference between a few moments of friendly conversation with a female colleague at the coffee machine / water cooler compared to disturbing her while she's trying to do her job. Maybe us Brits are just well-behaved and know where the boundaries lie. smile

OK, but none of that is relevant, any more than it was when the other person brought it up. In fact, that WAS and IS the point. Human sexual behavior is not the reason women are leaving STEM fields, any more than it is the reason that they are leaving any other profession where men and women work together. Or, in plain English, male engineers don't talk to female engineers, any more or less than say, male grocery clerks talk to female grocery clerks. Or to put it one more way, it's irrelevant to the discussion. NOT STEM related...

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

You sure about that?

Female STEM graduates - and seasoned female STEM professionals - have choices where they work. Maybe not all paying equally, but still choices. I hope no one leaves our profession because of a queue of guys hitting on them in the office. Maybe STEM females have more choices than the average female, and if they're choosing to leave STEM because of our attitudes then that is a real f'kin mess. No way of prettying that up.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Yes, I'm sure that it isn't the scope of the conversation. Because once men chatting up women enters the fray, it isn't a STEM related concept, anymore. It might as well extend all the way to the halls of Congress. So try to stay focused, please. Women leave jobs in every sector for this type of behavior. It doesn't make it acceptable - it's just not part of the conversation, at hand. Once conversations become so broad and tangential, they are no longer the same conversation.

The point of the conversation has always been how well represented women are in STEM related fields. Even with everything that's been discussed, the reasons for under-representation still point to the fact that women pursue STEM degrees at a much lower rate than white men and certain minorities. The conversation has to start there. Even those suggesting that there is an evolutionary pre-disposition towards dismissing females at the pre-educational level - no matter how unfounded or unsupported their positions are - are more on point than those suggesting that women leave STEM fields because of unrequited attention.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

3
Because women are hit upon, harassed, propositioned, etc. across the work force doesn't render it irrelevant in STEM. It remains an aspect of STEM and a reason some women, very capable of entering engineering, never consider it because they know how men are. Not all men but enough that they are not willing to put up with it. It is just one aspect of men they understand to walk away from.

I almost left engineering due to being hit upon, harassed, propositioned, cat called, etc.

One married man, an engineer, propositioned me for sex because he wasn't getting it from his wife and I was a good looking, single woman. In his words, he knew I needed sex. He wasn't embarrassed in the least to proposition me. He wasn't the only engineer to do so either.

I've had foremen harass me for sex so much I was relieved to get away from one by going to another plant. He wasn't the primary reason for me transferring but I was surprised to feel the relief of not having to put up with him. I was also dismayed that he transferred into the same plant soon after me because he had gotten into trouble at our former plant. He immediately began the same behaviors. He did it to me and the other women there, by his own admission. I warned him about it but he ignored me. He was going to continue because he never knew when he would get lucky or weaken one of his prey. He finally ran into a female operator that turned him in and he was fired.

I could write a book about my experiences with male engineers and males in the workplace. After awhile, it gets really old and you just want men to stop. That is a sentiment I have heard from other women in engineering. And even when you tell them to stop, a good portion don't, which is part of character disturbance. One such man told me that the men in that plant felt like women were there for them to take, if they wanted. Everything in the plant was for them, i.e., the men. They were entitled.

I've been called a token so many times I think of myself that way at various times. The engineer, a very bright, likeable man, admitted that I was doing "real" engineering work but that I was still a token. The secretary told him to stop many times but he never did. He would laugh, say he was right, and continue on. Token would be uttered multiple times in one conversation.

Another male engineer routinely walked up to me on the plant floor and told me how healthy the good ol' boys club is and that I'd never be a member as a woman.

I've had male engineers gang up on me and sabotage my work. They were too ignorant to do the jobs they had and too stupid to want to learn from anyone including me. Of course, the engineering managers didn't help and they were also men.

I've had other engineers lie to management about my work. This one did it openly then began a campaign behind my back with the plant manager and others who were dishonest, too dependent on him for what to think, and cowardly enough to listen to him.

One engineer, two levels above me in management, seemed on the verge of punching my lights out. All indications were clear and he moved closer to intimidate me. He has about a foot in height on me and is twice my weight. His fists were clinched by his sides, his jugulars were bulging, his pasty white skin was red, and his whole body was shaking with rage. I stood my ground, which made him angry. I was right and we both knew it. Many in that plant commented about how much that one manager chastised, criticized, and attacked me for the most asinine stuff. He was identified by many as a bully. He was a real jerk and shortly afterwards put me on notice to be terminated. No one said anything except HR and they had no explanations. I transferred into a corporate engineering position upon getting my MS. He was moved back to the research center, which derailed his plans to be the next plant manager of that plant or another one. After he was removed from that plant, some of his immediate subordinates sent me all kinds of company gifts. It was surreal.

This kind of stupidity reaches across the generations. I am 57 years old and remember the stories from the older female engineers that told me how things were for them and would be for me. I remember the comments from some of the older male engineers, who would be in their 80's today. I've had men 20 years my junior tell me that by even getting the engineering degree I had taken the spot a man should have. Another man 20 years my junior told me that I was a front for a male owned company that was really going to do the work. He "knew" how things worked and women owned engineering firms are just like black owned engineering firms, i.e., not smart like white men thus incapable of doing the work. Estimate the decades and determine your own thoughts. I have.

That I have my Professional Engineering license, in three states, in electrical engineering means nothing to them. The fact that I, not anyone else, took all the courses, did the homework, exams, labs, etc. for undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees means nothing to quite a few men. Somehow I wrangled it but it couldn't have been through my own intellect, desire to learn it, and work ethic. They wanted to view me as inferior or their own personal play thing. I am neither. Really, you cannot make this stuff up.

At this point in my life, I find it ignorant and often stupid for any man to tell me what does and does not exist in STEM for women and how I am to think and feel about it. They view life through their optics, which are far, far, far different than mine. No man has ever been told he didn't belong in engineering because of his gender. No man, with a BS in engineering, was ever told he was too educated to be an engineer, with the implication that people didn't like him because he earned a BS in engineering. An engineering manager, male, told me that.

If I write about my experiences in industry too much, men, engineering men, accuse me of whining. However, until men come to grips with all of the stories women in STEM and elsewhere have to share, men will continue to hide behind their ignorance and stupidity. It takes a lot of courage to exam oneself and conclude that work needs to be done and it's not technical competence work. It's personality and character work. I have endured so much criticism from men, engineers and otherwise, I've worked on myself because I thought I was some deficient human being. I had problems but I was not deficient. Also, many of those men were projecting their own faults, flaws, and weaknesses onto me.

It is high time that men stop analyzing me and others like me and start analyzing themselves. Stop pointing out what you think is wrong with me and start pointing out what is wrong with you. I work like a dog to do good work and to treat people fairly. I expect the same in return and have often not gotten it. I don't try to stir up trouble for anyone and will take a lot of crap from others. But, at some point, the crap flinging needs to stop. If it doesn't, it's time to walk away. And as women like me walk away, the chances of your daughters having an even more enjoyable engineering career become even more remote.

For those of you with daughters, think about it. Do you really want them to experience men, old and young, blatantly propositioning them for sex? Do you want your daughters to experience those blatantly propositioning men to relentlessly pursue your daughters, with the sole purpose to wear her will down to zero? Do you want your daughter to be told she doesn't belong? Do you want your daughter to be told she isn't as intelligent as a man? Do you want your daughter to be told she isn't smart enough to be an engineer? Do you want your daughter to be told her gender doesn't suit certain jobs? Do you want your daughter to fear for her physical safety? Do you want your daughter to fear a violent act? Do you want your daughter to live in fear? Do you want your daughter to limit herself because she hears the "no value" message so much? Do you want your daughters to die a death by a thousand cuts?

Personally, I am sick and tired of men telling me how I am to think and feel about my life experiences. That's my job. I know more about my life and what's it's done to me than anyone alive. So many men have condescending and patronizing remarks but they completely miss how inappropriate, inaccurate, and unnecessary they are.

One of my tormenters, the young man who routinely told me about the health of the good ol' boys club, is now the father to a little girl. I hope like heck that she doesn't run into what her father did to me. That's the ultimate of telling someone they are an outsider, will always be an outsider, you're minimal, unimportant, diminished, don't count, and disenfranchised because the good ol' boys club says you are because of your gender. No one gets to tell me how to think or feel about that experience. That's my job. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. No one should hear that kind of garbage in the workforce. You're being paid to be on the same team. That that kind of thing does happen tells me many men know nothing about true teamwork. They only know teamwork with people like themselves.

I love engineering. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career. I have worked with some wonderful men but the stinkers have hit home in many negative ways. I hope the future changes for younger women. It breaks my heart to read some of the accounts of younger women because too little has changed and they will be viewed as less than during their careers. Make no mistake about the depths of meanness in some men and the depths to which they will reach to destroy, utterly so, any woman he wants to for any reason.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I just don't know how much clearer this can be - sexual harassment, getting hit on, or any other type of invitation to engage in interpersonal relations - it isn't STEM unique, and wasn't ever the point of the conversation. I do not condone it, nor do I agree with it. But it honestly can't be the reason why there aren't more women in engineering. If it were, it would have to be offset by the tide of women leaving other fields for the same reason. If you leave a job in engineering because men are overly interested in you, what job will you go to? What profession is safe? People of all types can, and do, leave jobs for any number of reasons related to the people they work with.

There should be no reason to doubt that women in engineering are the object of men's fascination - and sometimes advances. It's clear that it happens. But bottom line... there is no evidence that this is keeping women OUT of STEM careers, which (the overall number of women getting/not getting STEM degrees) seems to be the real reason that there aren't more women in in STEM careers. This issue is being confused by problems that are endemic to society, and human nature, in general.

One problem, at a time!

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
I commend lacajun for sharing her lived experience. I'd suggest, from my own lived personal experience, and that of my wife, that you see exaggerated tendencies any time you segregate the sexes. I went to a mixed male/female junior high school from grades 7-10, and then an all boys Catholic high school from 11-13 back when Ontario had gr 13- and you couldn't help but notice the exaggerated male tendencies on display in front of you on a daily basis. My wife experienced the exact same thing in costume studies at university- exaggerated female tendencies. These exaggerated tendencies differ between the sexes as you would expect. And both of us saw these tendencies continue in our working lives, working in situations where there was one predominant sex. It is not unique to men- women when segregated in a group setting DO generate exaggerated behaviors and tendencies too- different ones from the males. These tendencies can be extremely irritating not just for members of the opposite sex who are part of the school or work environment, but can be (and was for both of us) extremely difficult to experience as members of the predominant sex whose attitudes were different than that of the normative group.

It has also been my observation that it doesn't take many members of the opposite sex to de-normalize these exaggerated tendencies of the predominant sex and keep them at bay, at least in a public setting. 5% isn't enough, but 15% is getting close.

I'd argue that exaggerated behaviors of the sort that lacajun has regrettably experienced throughout her career are related to being a female in a male-dominated profession. They are not STEM related per se, in that a female pipefitter or welder would experience these issues, and likely even worse, than a female engineer would. I'm confident that male nurses, as an example, report similar experiences, though the irritating behaviors they experience are going to be totally different than those that a female in a male dominated profession would experience.

In our own workplace, our female staff have experienced far more issues with our male-dominated manufacturing staff than from the male engineers. It could be that we're lucky that our engineering staff is predominantly chemical engineers, where the sex balance has been better than the average of all engineers for at least the 26 yrs I've been in the profession. My chem eng class was ~ 30% female and it's now around 35% female at my alma mater.

If men (on average) could choose, I sincerely doubt they'd choose their profession to be uniquely male. That by no means indicates that men are not, still, on average, biased to consider a man more competent in a technical field than a woman. That happens, for sure, and it is an expression of human psychology in my opinion- one which tends to make the interviewing process a very blunt tool at best. Without proper training, people of both sexes tend to confuse assertiveness (something which is easy enough to pick up in an interview) with competence. A certain amount of assertiveness is absolutely necessary and the lack of it in either sex is detrimental to performance, but it tends to over-weigh in the minds of interviewers in my experience. That does go against a normative female tendency, and therefore it should be expected to be a source of male favouring bias- not just in males, but in female interviewers as well.

All that said, I believe that there is no imperative whatsoever to have a balance of the sexes in any profession with only one exception: teaching. What we should seek to do is to provide equality of opportunity at all stages so that girls and boys, men and women, have the opportunity to pursue what interests and excites them without fear or favour. We must continue to try our best to weed out systematic bias when we are aware of it, and to punish the exaggerated tendencies resulting from sex segregation when they impact workplaces and schools. We know that systematic bias occurs, on the basis of not just sex obviously, but the famous example is that the hiring rates of female versus male symphony musicians changed dramatically when the auditions were carried out blind, i.e. candidate behind a screen, candidates numbered rather than named, such that only the quality of their playing was being judged.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

solid7, I understood your point quite clearly and do today as well as yesterday. You are missing some points.

moltenmetal, a Chemical Engineer, with an MBA, in response to my comment about not being discriminated against at that particular place of employment, said, "Oh, you are. You just don't see it. As laws are passed, we find more clever ways to discriminate against you. Men have the power, positions, and money and we're not about to give those up." He is a member of management to this day. One of my lessons from that is men, even highly educated men, find women too dumb to understand how we're being discriminated against because they're so smart. It never occurred to him that I didn't suspect it because I thought that company was full of people with more class! After his statements, I knew better.

A Canadian female doctor told me she didn't face nearly what I did as an engineer. She's 15 years older than me. I didn't tell her the worst of my experiences but the least. She was on vacation and I had no desire to spoil it too much. We were on a ski lift so I struck up a conversation. Most of what she faced was being left out and given the cold shoulder because the male doctors didn't want her there. Some didn't think women were smart enough to be doctors. They didn't hit on her. They didn't lie about her work. They didn't sabotage her work. They didn't bully her. For the most part, they were very professional. With time, they grew to accept her as one of them, a Medical Doctor. I have concluded that the extra education it takes to become a Medical Doctor continues the refining effect on the mind and that explains the difference to me.

I've been part of interviewing teams for many years. Men, in my presence, have openly discussed the drawbacks to hiring women engineers, which includes:
  • married will follow husbands career
  • married will want children (lost work time due to pregnancy, birth, maternity leave, etc.)
  • married and will have children then will leave to raise the kids
  • no prior experience
  • didn't grow up on a farm; may not have mechanical aptitude
  • single: does she want to get married
For years, I've read and heard many comments from women in STEM about men. I know why they are leaving.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

To counter that - I've worked under female engineering managers, on more than one occasion, who were standouts in their field, and had no problem commanding the respect of their subordinates and superiors, alike. That's not to try to neutralize your examples, but just to point out that one person's experiences don't compose the whole picture. (just as mine also, do not)

I understand what you're saying, but for much of the last 15 to 20 years, most companies of any size or worth, have promoted a platform of gender inclusivity. Additionally, hiring attitudes have shifted significantly, in that many places - certainly most that I have worked in - do not have an expectation of employee longevity or loyalty. (especially if they're publicly traded firms) And to go one step farther, most of the kids of any sex or ethnicity, are graduating school these days without any practical experience. Let's not even mention that some companies also give paternity leave. If that type of thinking still persists, it's unimaginable how it could be justified.

Forgive me if I've missed it somewhere in this thread - but do we have some sort of data on girls who graduate with STEM degrees (historically), vs those who put that degree to use, vs those who leave STEM fields? I understand the passion on the subject, but how does it really play out? What percentage of female STEM graduates are fully employed?

Now one more time... it is not acceptable to mistreat or marginalize women in the workplace. That needs to be found out, and punished. But as it's been pointed out, that's not just going on in STEM fields, and we can't blame it for women not pursuing STEM degrees. Or if we can, we need to prove it, and deal with it at that level.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
lacajun, I'm not denying or defending systematic discrimination on the basis of sex whatsoever- I know it exists, but I differ with both you and your former colleague as to some of the reasons why it does. It persists even in people who have no wish to be discriminatory and who actively try not to be- and it exists in women as well as in men. What you've experienced is beyond discrimination and into abuse and harassment. That still exists too- but most companies at least try to eliminate that kind of behavior when it happens and they find out about it- sometimes because they actually care about it, and sometimes because they understand the legal implications of ignoring it. A better balance between the sexes does help to reduce the tendency of that sort of ugliness to express itself in the light of day.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I have read some of this, but have little to contribute. One statement which stands out, though, is moltenmetal's comment "I believe there is no imperative whatsoever to have a balance of the sexes in any profession with only one exception: teaching." That is an age old issue, and I think getting worse. Men are not interested in teaching as a profession, for lots of reasons.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"but for much of the last 15 to 20 years, most companies of any size or worth, have promoted a platform of gender inclusivity. "

What companies promote and what they actually do are often two different things. That's been proven in real life as well as in controlled studies. The word "companies" sort of implies some sort of anthropomorphic entity that is the "company," but "companies" are actually assemblages of random humans, and they are the ones that actually implement policies, or not implement them, as the case may be. Volkswagen presumably has policies about adhering to the "highest standards," or some-such, yet, a group of engineers managed to conspire to falsify test data. This is clearly something that was both illegal and reputation-damaging, and they did it anyway.

Studies have been shown http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2014/why-does-john... that inspite whatever company policies there might be concerning gender bias, it existed, although more recent studies seem to indicate a more complex landscape: https://hbr.org/2016/12/research-how-subtle-class-... where gender bias exists for socioeconomically advantaged females, but the reverse happened for socioeconomically disadvantaged females. These and other studies also need to be viewed in the light of automated resume screeners that might be used in larger companies that might have de-biased the results, as these resume studies don't necessarily get to an actual human reviewer.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

That's true about VW. And when they got caught, the did an about face. Which is what you'd expect to see from any company of that calibre. Just like you'll see any company distance itself from, and punish, employees who break the corporate stance on social issues.

But then we have the curious case of Google, which started this whole discussion. (more or less) They seem to be bent on achieving a gender balance that is above parity with industry standards. Even if they do achieve this, it will set a standard that nobody else can hold. (for purely mathematical reasons, if nothing else) And again, we still haven't gotten to the heart of the matter of why this is - or if it's actually wrong, to begin with.

Is it really wrong to see a gender disparity in any given profession, where one does not intentionally exist? (where one cannot be proven to intentionally exist)

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

" gender disparity in any given profession, where one does not intentionally exist? (where one cannot be proven to intentionally exist)"

That's a tricky wording usage, "intentionally," implying that subconscious bias is OK or can be ignored? Given that there's no obvious "conspiracy" to exclude females and non-whites, and there's no company whose policy is to do so, we can certainly conclude that there's little "intentional" exclusion, but studies show that exclusion clearly occurs, and the number one preference is for a tall, white, male, even if it's not "intentional."

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The best you can do with an unconscious bias, is to attempt educate it away. A conscious bias is actionable, immediately. What else do you really suggest that we can do with a subconscious bias? I'm being realistic, here. And yes, it is possible to acknowledge that biases are everywhere, without actually condoning them. I don't feel that I have to get into a fight with someone, or shout my righteous indignation the loudest, just to prove that I agree that people are mistreated. So how about we curb the insinuations, from here forward?

You seem to want to paint me as the antagonist. The truth is, I can't even get those around me to work smarter, not harder - even when I can convince them of the merits of my methods, and that it's in their best interests. If I were their boss, they'd do what I say, whether they approved or not. So, short of having someone dictate their will, what is the solution? (please tell me) I keep hearing the problem, and I keep incurring your wrath for being "part of the problem" - but like I keep telling my kids, when something goes wrong... how about we focus on offering up good solutions, instead of just harping on each other, and everyone else, about how they're wrong?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

No, I have no beef with you.

You just happen to be repeating the words that others have been using to claim that we don't need to do anything else, because policies and laws are in place, and that no one could be intentionally discriminatory. This was the type of rationale that was used to eliminate race-based preferences in the US system, and by golly, it seems that people of color are oddly disinterested in higher education, or intellectually unable to pursue higher education. That can't possibly be because of bias, since we've had laws and policies against that sort of thing in place for over 50 years. And yet, we know now, since the election, that white supremacist currents run much deeper and wider in the US than we might have hoped for. And, as shown in the video cited above, the most "equal" country in the world has people thinking, "that's always been a woman's role to..."

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I am not so naive, as to believe that people are not still people. However, I've seen a lot of progress, and as time goes on, it becomes clear that many things, if not most, are headed in the right direction, when it comes to social issues. We have a historical record to show this. (where we are vs where we've been) It's not perfect, but where something CAN be done, it should. But at the same time, we have to also remember that we hire ignorant and simple-minded people from the same pool that we hire white men, women with STEM degrees, etc, etc, etc. You don't know what you're getting, until you've got it. Every company has weeds that need to be pulled. You address problems where they pop up, educate your workforce to the issues, and raise your children as you'd have them go. I can't control who was elected president, or what some man or woman on the other side of the country is doing. In fact, I can pretty much only make sure that I'm not contributing to the problem.

But again... how does any of this relate to STEM educated women entering the workforce?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

moltenmetal, I didn't mean to imply that you were defending poor behavior. Sorry for instilling that in you. You do not strike me as that type.

I tried to resolve the problems by working with HR, Plant Managers, Directors, and Diversity Leaders. When that didn't work, I ran the problems up the flag poll to a VP of HR. No progress. In some cases, I've run the problems up to Vice Presidents, Presidents, and CEOs. Presidents and CEOs launched investigations but gave everyone a clean bill of health. But, they made some big changes, after the investigations. I know some aspects of the law, I've read it and used it, and they were clearly wrong. So, whereas some view management as guiltless, I do not. What people consider moral cuts a wider path than for others.

solid7, re: the VW emissions scandal, a company of high caliber would not have done something so dishonest to begin with. There shouldn't have been an offense to catch. Once caught in something of that nature, it's hard not to change. Since Porsche and Audi models were guilty of the same offense, a poor culture was afoot and gaining ground.

I am well aware that my life experiences do not paint the whole picture just as others' do not. With reading and talking, I began to see greater numbers experiencing the same behaviors I have. Therefore, to say that this is not a prevalent problem because some women do not experience these problems diminishes, minimizes, dismisses, stops discussion and sharing, etc. the women who do. I, and others like me, find it hard to respect people who do that and to not view them as part of the problem.

I am not going to take the time to find all of the documentation I have read over my 28 year career about women not entering/leaving engineering. I know what I have read and heard. You judge it as irrelevant because that's not your experience or of those you know.

I try to not summarize lives by what I read in this forum. I also try to attribute a lot of intellect, good common sense, recognition of the obvious, etc. to those here because they are highly educated and highly functioning. They don't need my platitudes or clichés because they know them already. I give everyone here a great deal of respect and giftedness simply for being engineers.

There are cultural problems, which the OP's article alludes to without going into any depth, and that encapsulates quite a bit.

Quote (solid7)

Now one more time... it is not acceptable to mistreat or marginalize women in the workplace. That needs to be found out, and punished. But as it's been pointed out, that's not just going on in STEM fields, and we can't blame it for women not pursuing STEM degrees. Or if we can, we need to prove it, and deal with it at that level.

To begin with, "Now one more time..." is condescending. Point 2 w/ subpoints: We can use it as a reason some women do not pursue STEM degrees. Point 3: I don't care if you disagree with me. End of discussion.

IRstuff, I agree with you on the "intentional" stuff. I heard a woman say, don't remember who or where, that one woman is a token. Two women is a minority. Three women, you're starting to get somewhere. That applies to all minorities. Companies will use policies and "tokens" to placate others. The definition of tokenism sums it up: the practice or policy of making no more than a minimal effort to offer opportunities to minorities equal to those of the majority. I didn't think you had a beef with solid7 either.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

lacajun - I can't help how you, or anyone else interpret my points - but certainly I'm not being condescending when I reiterate my points, which I've done simply because others want to keep telling me what I'm saying or not saying, trying, or not trying to say. (as opposed to just asking for clarification if there's doubt) "Now one more time" is a nice way of saying, "Please stop glossing over my points, and attempting to twist my words, simply because you want to write your own narrative of what you think I'm saying to/about you".

I don't doubt your experiences. Never for a second did I doubt it, because I've seen those things happen. If this was a topic about sexual harassment, and attitudes towards women in the workplace, then STEM is irrelevant. It affects all women, in every sector. And this is just how it affects them:

http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2009/03/06/jobs-with...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/19/1-in-3-wo...
http://feministing.com/2014/10/07/the-american-res...

Saying that doesn't mean that I don't care, or find it justifiable. It means that I think it would be wrong to leave women everywhere else out of the discussion, just because this is the sector that you are employed in. It isn't that narrow of a topic.

If you still think that I'm propping up old ways of thinking, then OK. We'll not discuss this, any further. However, in the event that you see that isn't my intention, at all, then I've taken issue with the same thing that the author of the article has - which is what you've reiterated in your last lines, regarding, "tokenism". I believe the biggest injustice, is luring anyone into a job, simply to claim their "status", or to comply with some sort of a mandate. (or even worse, to create a false image of caring) This is why I've asked the question, multiple times... what if the number of women going into STEM careers is just what it's supposed to be? Is it really wrong for people to follow their passions, even if the numbers don't compose a microcosm of society? Why are we working so hard for gender inclusivity, if it's not what the numbers say should be happening? Why not just let people do what drives them, instead of incentivizing them to pursue careers that they wouldn't have necessarily chosen, otherwise?

If we were the collective society who had the highest standards for social justice and equality, and we still had a discrepancy in gender based hiring, would we still be having this discussion? That is, if women and minorities could do anything that they wanted, without any interference or obstruction from white males - and employment demographics still showed similar results - would it be a problem?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

It's apparent to me that this author is pushing an agenda of "women leave STEM mainly due to anti-woman culture and policies". I do not see how STEM careers would be any different than other fields of employment (ie: Accounting, Finance, Sales, etc.).

This was apparent in her listed range of reasons MOST women leave: "Unlike me, most of these women truly do want STEM careers but quit for reasons ranging from discrimination to maternity leave policy."

More appropriate would be to include the most noted reason that anyone leaves a career: They simply don't like the work.

This is not to say that discrimination and harassment DOES NOT exist in STEM careers, but I don't believe one should make the assumption that it exists at a greater rate than any other career field.

If the author's true purpose of the article was to stress that children should not be pushed into careers they are "good at" rather than careers that they enjoy, I agree with that sentiment.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote (solid7)

I'm sorry about your inability to control your emotions.
That was your second post on this thread in response to SLTA. That is condescending. I realize tone and context are hard for many people but there are others who usually get it. You've been condescending in other threads, too, so you're consistent.

I don't see anyone but you twisting your words.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

OK, if you want to label me, then let me have my fair turn.

If people were able to keep this discussion at an intellectual level, rather than an emotional one, then there would be no need for "condescending" statements. However, when people let their statements be driven by their frustration, or inability to counter a point in context, then I think it's fair game to call them out. Just as some like to villainize others as being "bullies" or "condescending". (which is really a bit of a cheap shot) Stating in a discussion that "I'm so angry that I'm shaking" clearly displays a lack of emotional control. Would that statement fly in a staff meeting? Since you like labeling people, how would YOU label that person? (if we're being fair with the labeling, here) My comments were either not understood, or were misconstrued, and yet an (overly) emotional response was produced, based on them.

Let me just point out that your last reply was just about me, personally, and none of the points that I made. Honestly, I'm not running for any office, so there's no need to vet my character. Either my comments were in line with the discussion, or they weren't. Whether my personality is appealing or not, it strikes me odd that there are some who are looking to pick a fight where none needs to be picked - seeing that I'm not against you. I'm just in favor of limiting the topic to what's most relevant!

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Women in the Labor Force: A Databook From the BLS and loaded with information.

I compare engineering with other rigorous, regulated professions such as accounting, physicians and surgeons, judges, lawyers, and pharmacists. The numbers are not on parity nor would I expect them to be. But they have higher participation rates of women than engineering. Pharmacy is, I think, more rigorous than engineering and women outnumber men in that field. Women outnumber men in accounting. It is not our inability to do mathematics and science.

From a previous post of mine on this thread, I do not believe that any young person, from any walk of life, should be sold on a STEM degree/career or any other degree/career. Young people need to follow their own inclinations and interests. They need to be taught the truth of each profession to make an informed decision.

My heritage is comprised of 400+ years of purely Southern US families but I've not lived in the South in 19 years. I have multiple slave owners in my ancestry. If I wanted, I could join the United Daughters of the Confederacy through multiple gx-grandfathers. I know and understand cultural, gender, racial, regional, etc. biases. I've seen discrimination and harassment outside of the South, too. Biases don't have boundaries and no one can assume they are perfect.

I've had to work out my own biases over my lifetime so I know what bias is as well as the work to overcome it. Other women do, too.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)

Quote (lacajun)

I do not believe that any young person, from any walk of life, should be sold on a STEM degree/career or any other degree/career. Young people need to follow their own inclinations and interests. They need to be taught the truth of each profession to make an informed decision.

That's exactly what I believe, and what I believe was the main lesson to be learned from the article which originated this post. Thanks for putting it so succinctly!

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

As a woman with an engineering degree (environmental), who is "no longer in the field," I really appreciate having had engineering training for many reasons, not the least of which is that my engineering degree has opened many doors. I was the beneficiary of a corporate program which would have fully paid for me to get a master's degree in engineering - JUST BECAUSE I WAS A WOMAN! Note that this was in the late 1970s, so the benefits of being a woman in engineering were already apparent, even back in the dark ages, as it were (I started my master's while at that company, but then switched careers mid-stream).

Secondly, though I am not a practicing engineer, as a freelance technical copywriter I use my engineering training daily, writing about engineering products and processes, as well as about engineers themselves, for articles in trade publications and for white papers, blogs and pages on engineering websites. So though I might be counted in the number of women who quit engineering, my experience in engineering enables me to do a job that I could not do as well otherwise.

Finally, engineering to me is a way of thinking, a mindset to understand physical phenomena and to solve problems using that understanding. This type of training, which I received in engineering school, is invaluable to anyone in any field. For example, our family physician worked first as an engineer, then went back to med school and became a doctor. If more politicians and lawyers worked as engineers first, think how better off we might be as a country. And any school district would be delighted to hire someone with an engineering degree who wants to make the switch to teaching math, science and technology!


Holly B. Martin
Freelance Technical Copywriter
www.hollybmartin.com

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"I do not believe that any young person, from any walk of life, should be sold on a STEM degree/career or any other degree/career. Young people need to follow their own inclinations and interests. They need to be taught the truth of each profession to make an informed decision."

That's certainly an ideal, but the reality is that most high school graduates are at least 7 yrs from having a fully operational pre-frontal cortex and they don't necessarily have any clue what they even want out of life. I had a friend who was 40 when I met her, and she still didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up. Males and females additionally have cultural, gender, and societal expectations, on top of whatever parental and familial expectations there might be. I certainly had a lot of pressure from my father to get a doctorate, as that was the only thing that he thought would be and adequately respected accomplishment. We're a multi-generational college family, and there was high expectations that our kids would go to college, and would major in STEM, be it engineering or medicine (CS-2, Med-0 winky smile )

I think that there is almost too much free rein on college major choices, which is probably why few of the popular majors involve STEM. And part of that is due to the fact that their parents don't understand or know STEM, making it difficult for them to be convincing and proper proponents of STEM to their children. I think that STEM should be pushed much harder and at much younger ages to ensure that those budding minds get sufficient exposure that they could come close to making a rational and thoughtful decision at the start of the college admissions cycle. I knew I wanted to major in EE in 7th grade, and if everyone could at least contemplate what their majors might be at that same age, there would be much less attrition in the engineering fields, for both men and women.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The US labor statistics in lacajun's link are interesting, but I don't see anything unexpected or abnormal there. Maybe it is just stereotyping, but 90% of registered nurses being female is not surprising. The only statistic which I think is problematic, as moltenmetal alluded to above, is that 80% of primary and secondary teachers are female.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Schools nowadays tend to be more focused on standardized tests, and making sure that they get their government money. There really isn't much thought (so it would seem) given to their end product. However, some school systems have the right idea, and have magnet schools that are meant to place children early into a path, by identifying their core competencies.

That being said... Education should still always be a gateway to pursue passions, not just a means by which to order, people like hardware on a shelf. What one is good at, and what one wants to do, are sometimes mutually exclusive. For many people - and I count myself in this - what I'm good at is great, until it becomes a job, or like work. Then, I hate it, and want nothing to do with it.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"Maybe it is just stereotyping, but 90% of registered nurses being female is not surprising. "

Or, what's surprising is the we're not surprised. If it is stereotyping, then that is an big issue.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

3
Why is that a big issue? Nursing is open to men as well as women, but it seems most men choose other fields.

Anyway, the main point of my post is about teachers. In just about every other field of employment, the end product as seen by the population as a whole is the same, no matter whether produced by males or females. But in teaching, it is my belief that gender balance affects the end product, and gross gender imbalance is harmful.

I know this is not the subject at hand, which seems to be just women in engineering. Maybe another thread is needed.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

My brother was in nursing. He claimed that they wanted male nurses just because moving people is really physically intensive. Back injuries are pretty common. In Japan, they have robots that are being used to help move people. Anyone who has moved a mattress knows moving dead weight without something good to grip is really hard.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Hokie66,

In the UK at least, one of the attractions of the teaching profession for females is that the job aligns well with school holidays for kids, and most mothers that I know want to take time off to look after their kids. If women decide to choose a reasonably well-paid career which allows them to spend that time with their kids and which pays them during the school holidays then who is to say they're wrong? In UK primary schools male teachers are fairly rare, but there is a more even balance in secondary schools. In higher education the balance shifts slightly in favour of male lecturers.

I wonder how much of that age-related shift from female to male is conscious and how much is sub-conscious? I don't believe there's any reason whatsoever why females can't teach at the very highest levels, but I suspect most men would have little or no desire to teach a class of needy 4-year-olds.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

IRstuff, I know people at various ages that cannot determine their life’s ambition. Sometimes I’ve questioned my own. And, it took me time to sort things out, which is probably due to that underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex. 😊

There is an effort to “sell” girls and young women on STEM, which I think is wrong. Young women need to know what a good portion of women face in engineering. Not all face it, which is wonderful. But, a good portion do because they’ve left the field. As you know, studies abound on this.

It’s been my experience, as well as others’, that some HSs do an inadequate job of teaching students about various jobs and careers. Many parents are not prepared for those conversations either.

In listening to people, many begin in engineering but cannot manage it and opt for other degree plans. My attorney was good at math in HS but he knew he was not engineering material and never considered it. Many probably could do engineering but they know the degree plan is hard, takes a lot of work, and they want to have fun in college; work is not a high priority. Some young men didn’t follow their engineering fathers because of the work load, heavy travel, long hours, bad politics, no promotions, etc. Their dads didn’t manage their career/family life because their career managed everything. Their sons were watching.

solid7, I completely understand SLTA’s response. I wouldn’t label her anything in a staff meeting or elsewhere. And, if you think carefully, you will understand I have not labeled you either.

SLTA is a young, bright, capable, and experienced Professional Engineer. I respect her a great deal because of her dedication to doing good, solid, honest work as a Professional Engineer, while juggling a lot of other aspects of life common to all of us. I understand her experiences and attitudes as a woman in engineering. After decades of experience, it is just too old to discuss any longer.

Further, I see nothing wrong with passion. To that point, I believe SLTA conducts herself professionally in professional settings else she would not be successful. She knows when, where, and how to show her passion to its most effective use.

Those at large, reading the responses helps me to understand things are not going to change.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"Why is that a big issue? Nursing is open to men as well as women, but it seems most men choose other fields."

One can argue the same for women in engineering, can't we? It's a big issue for potentially the same reason that women are under-represented in engineering. Certainly, when I was younger, a man wanting to be a nurse would have gotten huge amounts of grief from his "masculine" friends; TLC ∉ men, etc.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

OTOH, having sat next to females in multiple offices I have seen them struggle to remain polite and get work done due to streams of guys stopping by daily to chat for 5-10 mins each. We all enjoy a bit of bs once in awhile but some days I want to either hang a sign or start embarrassing folks as the stream of bs small-talkers seems never-ending.

Apologies for lighting the fire then leaving on vacation. To clarify my earlier statement quoted above - I haven't witnessed any overt harassment or even what I would consider flirtatious behavior, only repetitive polite annoyance. Some may view it as harassment but I do not as some managers/supervisors/others suffer through similar annoyance from the office politicians. I'm actually rather skeptical of most harassment claims after serving as a unit EO rep in the military bc I heard many claims and had few proven true. I do not doubt harassment exists, just not to the level which many make it out. Regardless, I thought it relevant to the discussion as no doubt it does contribute to some women leaving the field. Being that there are few women entering the field for various reasons, it likely has a larger effect than in nursing or other female-dominated fields.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

2
Nothing in that article should be a sense of pride for anyone involved in any of it. What a mess your society is in, if that article represents where things have arrived at: gender equality is the least of your worries, start by figuring out the basics like common decency and respect for each other first.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

ScottyUK,
Agree, but "your society" is too broad. That article is about California, and probably only a small part of that crazy state.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The article is also the opinion of someone after ONLY one year at one company, a pretty bad benchmark of an industry. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I once worked for a company that was lousy enough in most every conceivable way (management, process, attitude, ability, etc) that I thought their hiring a disservice to young engineers. I fulfilled my 12 month obligation to retain the hiring/moving bonus then quickly moved on.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

hokie66,

Fair point - Ca is about the size of the UK - a country within a country. Still messed up!

CWB1,

US workplaces seem to be quite different to those in the UK. Where I work my female colleagues are treated as equals and in many cases we're friends outside of work. Do we have a laugh? Sure. Is there the occasional flirty comment? Sometimes. Do we know where the line is drawn? Absolutely. I don't imagine for a moment that some of the behaviours described at various points in this thread would be tolerated here, because none of us would allow a friend to be treated like that by anyone, at work or outside of it.

That's not some P.C. policy enforced by the HR dept, that's decent people having respect for each other and looking out for each other.


And no, I don't work in some utopian paradise. Most days I enjoy it. Some days it's the worst place I've ever worked. Now and then it's fantastic.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

ScottyUK - I have worked in a number of places across the breadth and width of the US - and most of the places that I have worked are exactly as you described. This thread has managed to see much of the issue blown completely out of proportion, or has focused on those who are (possibly) disproportionately affected. In my 22 years of professional experience, the shocking and sordid details that we've heard here, have most certainly been the exception, and not the rule. I've laughed with, and gone out with female engineers, and never once crossed any lines, or done anything that made us ashamed to work together. In fact, I consider it a privilege to be able to have friendships with professional women. Not every sector takes a normalized view of friendship across gender lines. From our perspective, it tends to be completely acceptable, with no suspicion of impropriety, where none is due.

While I understand those who are upset by their own past treatment, I'm also a little perturbed that we're portrayed on an international forum, as a band of savages, who still conk women on the head, and drag them back to our caves. I give every respect to my female co-workers, and never is their gender made an issue.

And to the issue of full gender parity in the workplace... Well, that can't even be a possibility, until education reaches full gender parity. That's not sexist. That's reality. Just keep sorting out the problem children as they rear their nasty little heads, and the generations will sort out the issue. But if we keep forcing quotas and gender based employment, rather than letting the hiring occur organically, I can't see the problem going away.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I have followed this thread off and on, and I did not intend to wade in, I can't offer anything that hasn't been already said better by others.

But the gender parity thing kinda gets me. Don't get me wrong, I think everybody should have every opportunity to pursue whatever they fancy, but NOBODY is insisting on gender parity for prison inmates, are they?

Regards,

Mike

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

We've already met that benchmark; we have quite a few women on death row.


truly not trying pick on solid7;
"I'm also a little perturbed that we're portrayed on an international forum, as a band of savages, who still conk women on the head, and drag them back to our caves. "

Ditto, but practically every week is yet another blurb about some female student being sent home because their clothing is "distracting" or "provocative." So, somehow, "boys will be boys," remains the theme and that remains the way we treat our daughters in school. With that sort of attitude in the school system, how can anyone claim that discrimination is a thing of the past with a straight face? We enforce rules that perpetuate the notion that our boys won't be able to help themselves from conking a girl on the head, etc., just because they were wearing leggings to school, or wearing skirts that were one inch above their knees.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Without much to add that hasn't already been said; I'd just like to comment that I would welcome going out with members of the female persuasion as coworkers and friends. While I'll happily share in a laugh at plenty of sophomoric, "manly" humor, I also do tire of it at times as it sometimes becomes derisive. Thus, I'd certainly love to have a laugh with the ladies as well over some equally trivial, derisive kerfuffle; if only for a break of tempo. Those that say you can't have cross-gender, platonic friendships are clearly not trying hard enough.

In the end I am quite envious solid7, the one engi-nerd of female persuasion I became friends with and often enjoyed a night of cards her and her friends with moved away to become a teacher. Now I'm stuck with only nights out of golf, beer, and football.

...not complaining, though.

Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries
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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Scotty, I've lived/worked in both the UK and Germany extensively and never noticed a difference in how female colleagues are treated there vs stateside. No doubt there are many cultural differences leading to different thought processes and approaches to engineering, but basic human decency isnt one of them.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

CWB1,

I'm pleased to hear that. To be honest I didn't really expect it to be any different, prior to reading this thread. I've worked with quite a few American engineers over the years and every one of the them was courteous and professional. So where are all these awful people who work in American engineering? Or are they a tiny minority who get a lot of press, much like they are here?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Of course they are. If the press didn't blow every issue completely up, they couldn't hold the public's interest. If something isn't a big enough problem, they'll make it so...

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I think that's a bit conspiratorial. It's simply a matter of business; the more eyeballs, the more ad revenue, nothing more. That's why we get the news about murders and police car chases and rarely about the smart kid that got straight A's last semester. Who actually wants to watch people on the freeway driving normally?

Lest you think that the news orgs are conspiring on that as well, just pay attention the next time you're in a slow down on the freeway, only to find that everyone was slowing down to look at an accident on the other side of the freeway. Eyeballs on the live happenings, no news org involved or in the way. The bottom line is that the "people" want the "if it bleeds, it leads," news; Auntie Em's bunions hurting isn't news and isn't going to sell ads.

Furthermore, the smarter misogynists know better than to reveal themselves in public. It's the same mechanism at work with pedophiles; how many pedophiles and child abusers do we run across at work? But, they're obviously there in the population; I don't think anyone would argue that they don't exist.

I once and dealings with a sales rep, who was professional all the time, until he wasn't. That one time was when we went to lunch and he pulled out a handicapped parking placard, just so that he won't have to work to find a real parking spot; but, he was "professional" at ALL other times. So, just because you've not had the occasion to see unprofessionalism in your coworkers does not put them in the clear. I worked with a manager for 2 years before he wound up saying, "No tickee, no washee," in my presence, which is offensive to certain parties of Asian descent, like myself, and he never noticed or acknowledged that serious faux pas. Otherwise, perfectly professional...

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

IRstuff,
If that offends you, I think you are too sensitive. Don't bother coming to Australia. My local Chinese laundry operator says that to all his customers.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

There's a big difference between an ethnic Asian and a ethnic white saying things, though, isn't there?

It's the same reason that lets black comedians and performers use the N* word, but it's not acceptable for a white person to do the same.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

@IRStuff - Ah, yes... That old, "it's OK for me, but not for you", argument. I can't see how that could possibly go wrong...

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I personally wouldn't use it, or other, similar, appellations, simply because I have no desire to propagate, nor wallow in, racist stereotypes, regardless of the reason.

My observation is that words have no intrinsic meaning, thereby allowing the speaker to attach whatever meaning they desire to them, which may be in direct conflict with whatever meaning someone else have have hoped for. I think using N* is a serious mistake on the part of blacks, because the word itself can never be cleansed of its historical meanings and connotations, and gives racists freedom to continue to use the word for their own purposes.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

IRStuff,
“but practically every week is yet another blurb about some female student being sent home because their clothing is "distracting" or "provocative." So, somehow, "boys will be boys," remains the theme and that remains the way we treat our daughters in school. With that sort of attitude in the school system, how can anyone claim that discrimination is a thing of the past with a straight face? We enforce rules that perpetuate the notion that our boys won't be able to help themselves from conking a girl on the head, etc., just because they were wearing leggings to school, or wearing skirts that were one inch above their knees.”

You’re blaming the schools and I would like to know more.

My first-hand experience is this: I have three daughters in school, 1st, 3rd and 5th grade and most of our friends have school-age kids at varying levels. Nowhere, nowhere, do I see or hear what you are describing outside of the high profile media driven incidents you reference. Our school, and those of my friends, strongly support girls almost at the expense of boys one could argue. Again, my first-hand, direct experience.

If you claim what you reference are the norm in schools, and that these stereotypes and favoring of boys persist, then we have a much worse problem than even you realize. 90% of teachers are women. Either they are doing this, or allowing the male teachers to do it unchecked, both are inexcusable. I suspect it is neither and you are headline grabbing to perpetuate a narrative.

But, if you insist that this is the norm, based on you first-hand experience and not the headlines, and it is going on in all schools everywhere, who do you hold accountable? Is this going on at your kid’s school? My daughter’s teachers would scream from the mountain tops in the face of this and I imagine that is representative of most woman teachers and administrators. I would expect nothing less.

So who exactly is to blame for holding girls back? Don't give me some lame, abstract societal or cultural norms excuse because at some point a human being is telling a girl "she can't....". Is it a teacher, a coach, an administrator, a parent, who is it?

Punch them in the face for me.

IC

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I made no claims to know more beyond that, nor how widespread that is. There is something like 24,000 secondary schools in the US, so even one story per week is a very small percentage. But, certainly, based on the quoted responses of school officials involved, these are a non-zero number of schools where girls are considered to be "distractions" to boys, and it's likely, like my sales rep, they're professional until they're not. The fact that a school is not in the news might simply mean that everyone is already "assimilated" into a culture of propping up boys and blaming the girls, and no one is brave or foolish enough to rock their boat. As with many injustices in the world, it takes a certain level of bravery and foolhardiness to throw down a gauntlet and challenge authority.

The gross statistics don't describe the entire picture. However, the relevant statistic is that in high schools, the gender mix is much more balanced: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt1... and, the highest percentage of male teachers in academic classes include, mathematics, nature sciences, social sciences, and vocational/technical.

What that means is that the high overall percentage of women teachers is driven by extremely high percentages in primary schools, and coincidentally, girls seem to do very well in math and science in primary school. In high school, male teachers are nearly 50% of the teaching staff for STEM, and coincidentally, girls seem to lose interest in STEM in high school. Sounds like a conspiracy to me winky smile

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

“The fact that a school is not in the news might simply mean that everyone is already "assimilated" into a culture of propping up boys and blaming the girls, and no one is brave or foolish enough to rock their boat.”

What a damning, hopeless, bleak, and impossible to prove (or counter) generalization of the school system and characterization of the teachers and staff.

IC

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

How is that bleak, compared to the alternative that we are imprinted and programmed at birth by genetics and chemicals for only specific gender roles?

At least, with attitudes, they can be adjusted, but obviously, it's just taking, and will take, much longer than anyone desires or hopes for.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Yes, let's blame the boys that are behaving themselves while making excuses for the girls desperate enough to act foolish for their attention and judge others on their professionalism in a parking lot. While we're at it let's keep wasting money and time chasing unrealistic "equality" metrics because we spend far too much on fundamental life/job skills and promoting healthy relationships.

Meanwhile back in reality divorce and lack of fundamental life/job skills creates a helluva lot of real struggles.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Yes, and we need school officials to concentrate on elevating and improving their work product, which is student education, and stop obsessing over clothing and "distractions" for the boys. I don't blame the boys; I blame school officials and parents that think that girls are suspendable "distractions" in school. I blame judges that let off admitted sex offenders because that would "ruin" their futures, while ignoring the harm done to the victims.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Before we even begin to address that, maybe it wouldn't be so bad to do away with standardized testing, that rewards or punishes a school for its academic performance. You know, since education really begins in the home. (the teachers don't craft behavior, intelligence or potential, they only work with what's available) As a society, we fail to understand the most basic concept, which is that a system is only as strong as its weakest member. Put all of the disadvantaged people together, you get a weak system. Separating them out, rather than forcing everyone to learn from, and with one another - and thereby, creating a true microcosm of society - perpetuates disadvantage. It also forges attitudes about other members of society, and creates class rifts, which further denigrate societal values.

Forgive me if I can't be bothered to care about a hyper-fixation on the stifling of provocative clothing, or to presume that it is somehow even a significant factor in the larger problem. If we're dealing we one problem at a time, we don't start there.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Teachers as well as parents need to instill a sense of propriety in students simply for the fact that society has certain expectations of the workforce, maintaining a professional appearance being an important one. Personally I find it rather ironic anyone would argue against teachers upholding basic dress standards in schools as one of my pet peeves is that many of our "professional" teachers today have no outside work experience and therefore no clue what is acceptable dress or necessary knowledge for the workplace, only what the state mandates be taught. They know their job, not how to educate and do their damnedest through the unions to prevent anyone with experience from usurping their position.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

3 things:

1) agree, but only to a point
2) "professional" dress codes have changed, and are changing
3) it's still not the top priority

My children were never taught to love school. If they do, great. IF not, all the same. The only catch being, that the school is the domain of the teachers and administrators. When you're on their turf, you're on their time, and they are the owners of that domain. What they say, goes. You don't have to like it, you only have to do it. If something is said or done that you don't agree with, you tuck it in, and find a clever way to deflect any further attention from yourself. (and it can be discussed in a proper/neutral forum later) When teachers give you the rub, you learn to control your emotions, and thereby, reduce a lot of unnecessary conflict or friction. Because just like that judge or policeman in society, I don't want to have to deal with them (kids or teachers) when they go wrong. If I have to deal with kids or teachers, because they (kids) didn't take note of whose jurisdiction they violated, then we have a problem.

This is my way of teaching my kids how the world works. Just like when we get into the world, we don't have to like our job, but we do it to make our lives easier, and hopefully, we can find a way to enjoy it. (we'd all rather be not work, if we didn't have to) And of course, when you sign up to accept a paycheck, you implicitly acknowledge that your employer's goals are your goals, and to that end, that you agree to all of your employer's terms. Of course, children don't get that luxury, but it's a preparation for making a good choice, when they are able to make one.

So I still maintain that this is the primary responsibility of the parent. If parents don't teach their kids well, I can't help that. I can only do my part. I refuse to have "peeves", or sit around obsessing over things I can't control. When things bother us, it's our responsibility to do our part - whatever we can do.

The environment created by artificial academic standards - whose only real purpose is to create a facade, or maintain the status of the facade - is the real problem. Dress codes are insignificant in light of the bigger problem. But if people want to solve all of the problems at once, instead of finding the biggest problems, solving them first, and hopefully having a cascade effect, then I suppose that chaos will always reign...

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

They are insignificant only if you ignore the fact that they are a symptom of the underlying attitudes and practices. It''s not a question of solving dress codes and everything's hunky-dory. It's merely an indicator that the problem is extremely pervasive and deeply entrenched and hidden in plain sight. Even the love-to-hate purple dinosaur used stereotyped gender roles when my oldest was watching his show 20 years ago., despite talking up how anyone can grow up to do anything.

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RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

That is exactly how I perceive it - insignificant on account of being a symptom of a bigger problem.

Never was a problem solved by treating the symptoms, but rather, the cause.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

3

Quote (IRstuff)


Furthermore, the smarter misogynists know better than to reveal themselves in public. It's the same mechanism at work with pedophiles; how many pedophiles and child abusers do we run across at work? But, they're obviously there in the population; I don't think anyone would argue that they don't exist.

That is a fine point. The masters of manipulation do it in secrecy. Further, the masters of manipulation have 26 core behaviors they use to manipulate. Twenty-six core behaviors implies there are others and there are. They are complex and they are not used singly or just on one person. These are the behaviors con men use. That's why I recommend reading Character Disturbance by George Simon to so many people.

Another point some people miss is the duration each offense takes. It takes about 2 seconds to utter "token" or some variation of it. It takes about 25 seconds to say "The Good Ol' Boys Club is alive and well and you'll never be a member because, well, look at you, you're a woman." Thus the meaning behind the phrase, "death by a thousand cuts." If you read Mindset by Carol Dweck, you'll have a much better understanding of that phrase.

I think it would be wise to keep in mind who the majority is, at least in the US.

I, and many other women, chose to not speak up and cause trouble for a variety of reasons. It gives you a reputation that you do not want, for starters.

That some of you don't experience it or see it, and never have, does not mean it does not exist and in enough significance to warrant thought and genuine solutions. As I read in another thread, paraphrasing, "If you're an owl talking to a grizzly, you need to see it and understand it." I see a lot of owls talking at a lot of grizzlies and vice versa, with absoluteness of right being on their side. All of us want to see the world through our own lenses but we cannot afford that luxury any more. Technology will not allow it. Technology has changed our culture and it will continue to do so. I'm not trying to force anyone to be an owl or a grizzly. I am encouraging you to be yourself and to see what others experience. IRstuff doesn't need to be exposed to racial slurs such as "no tickee, no washee." That's highly unprofessional and unethical of a supposed highly educated, high functioning manager.

I realize some of my posts are going to be offensive to some of you. My goal is to raise awareness so that younger women will have an easier road than women have had in the past. This is not about you. It is not about me. It is about the broader culture and younger women and improving their abilities to pursue their dreams.

I realize this is on an international community. I also realize that the NY Times, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, etc. are all available to the international community. I also realize that cultural research organizations are online and available to the international community. So, in essence, the points that I have raised being on an international site, well, that dog don't hunt, as they say back home. For those upset by my posts and what they reveal, this is nothing compared to the broader picture. Absolutely nothing. A drop in the bucket!

I've also spent time reading declassified documents on US government websites just as many others do, internationally. My experiences are insignificant in comparison. A drop in the bucket!

An acquaintance hammered me about some aspects of American culture of late, I repeatedly told him to watch Congressional hearings to learn. He knew beyond any doubt he was right and I was wrong. He finally asked for links, which I provided. He's been quiet ever since! If you are willing to listen without your biases, you will learn. Being Southern, I've had to walk away from a lot of things I was "absolutely certain" of. There is nothing special about me so I know if I can, others can, too.

Mindset by Carol Dweck and Character Disturbance by George Simon are excellent books to begin learning what some people do. If you are unwilling to read them, it's your choice. I perceive those as two books that are part of the broader cultural problems' solution. Your perception may differ. But, when I think of the POTUS, I cannot help but think of those two books and the knowledge they contain. According to Dr. Simon, character disturbance is a growing problem. It may benefit you to read them for your own safety, if not for another's.

One other thing I've learned over the last few years is that healthy people and healthy families talk about their problems. They don't run from them, hide them, deny them, shift responsibility, etc. They may not reach resolutions but they work on them. Extrapolations are left to the reader.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I mostly agree with both of you fellas' various premises including that its symptomatic of a larger problem, which I believe to be a lack of personal discipline anymore. Having served in the military, IMHO this is best learned through driving high standards of seemingly small details like personal appearance, behavior in groups, focused attention, etc. I do not hold parents solely responsible for this as I believe it needs to be a combination of parents and other adult influences driving kids to be more disciplined. Personally, growing up I was pretty equally influenced by the ultra-conservative parents of my best friend as I was by my own parents, his demanded manners, posture, "please/thanks/etc," and all other things etiquette whereas mine simply demanded we behave.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Pamela,

While I don't share every last one of your opinions, I certainly don't feel offended by any of them or by the way you're expressing them.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I don't feel offended by them either. But I do have my own opinions. (and they're just that)

I think that a person can be too well read. At some point, when certain thoughts or themes are so pervasive, I think a person can begin to look for those themes in everything they do - and even bias their thoughts towards them.

If I have to spend my days looking for the 26 core behaviors in every person that I encounter in a day, I will never view humans in a normalized way. Since I am not a researcher in academia, I just have no desire to put every facet of human behavior under that kind of a microscope.

I'm just smart enough to call a spade a spade - but beyond that, I wouldn't dare try to point fingers at people that I don't know, and try to show them that they're closet misogynists.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

IRstuff, I wish you all the best with your child.

CWB1, I grew up with a single mother, who was never in the military but ran the household very efficiently. She taught my sister and me a lot and a lot about diligence and perseverance.

ScottyUK, thank you.

solid7, I am not hyper-vigilant nor do I care to be. I take people as they are and let them reveal themselves over time. We all reveal and observe. I am smart enough to obtain knowledge and go about my normal, daily life, with application of knowledge seamlessly. I do not look for boogie men, ever, nor do I purposefully look for or expect anyone, male or female, to be a jerk to me.

I am not trying to be the smartest person anywhere just trying to raise awareness because I have experienced way more in life than anyone should. Most people who have my experiences never achieve what I have, which isn't much and is certainly nothing to brag about. There are many here much more accomplished and much more gifted intellectually. My IQ is nowhere near 180 or low end Mensa material either.

Most people with my history become alcoholics, drug addicts, bums, convicts, etc. That I have not become any of those is a miracle according to counselors. Most people have one or two major things, from childhood, to overcome, which is easily done. When kids experience four to five big things in childhood, they are overwhelmed and never grow beyond those childhood problems to become fully functioning adults. They become alcoholics, drug addicts, bums, convicts, etc. Some experience much more than 4 - 5 things and I am one of those.

So, that I have grown into an adult, albeit one that needed to do a lot of reading, thinking, and working to correct problems, capable of helping others and that is not in prison, on skid row, drug addicted, etc. says a little something about my ability to think, solve, and persevere through extremely trying hardships in life. Thanks to that, I've also lived through some extremely trying hardships in the workforce. That was normal to me, sadly. A childhood friend of mine died, in prison, at a young age because she couldn't overcome her childhood. She was beautiful, smart, fun, kind, and had a lot of promise. While some may think I am full of it, I am not. I am experienced.

Quote (solid7)

I'm just smart enough to call a spade a spade - but beyond that, I wouldn't dare try to point fingers at people that I don't know, and try to show them that they're closet misogynists.

You are smart; however, I am not calling you or anyone on this forum/thread a misogynist. Once again, do not wrongly attribute things to me, a stranger to you. And, I do not view that calling a spade a apade. I will not spend more time on your posts.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

You are smart; however, I am not calling you or anyone on this forum/thread a misogynist. Once again, do not wrongly attribute things to me, a stranger to you. And, I do not view that calling a spade a apade. I will not spend more time on your posts.

All I was trying to say was that I feel that my behavior towards people - women in particular - is well enough adjusted that I won't do any extensive research, towards the goal of identifying misogyny, in any form other than the obvious. I am definitely not the type who wishes to tout intelligence. (because to be fair, I don't really think about whether I am, or not - I just try to be the best "me" that I can) Especially over others. I'm often the dumbest guy in the room, and that's my comfort zone. (since the dumb guy has the most left to learn)

You and I are two people who don't see eye to eye on certain things. But just to be sure that you understand that I respect your views while not agreeing with them - we are two PEOPLE having a disagreement. Some person out there may think that we're both extreme, and find a better answer in-between our view points. With that in mind, it would be sad to think that you don't want to carry on in discourse. It costs us nothing but the time that we'd be spending in similar pursuits, anyway.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

I am not hyper-vigilant nor do I care to be. I take people as they are and let them reveal themselves over time.

Therein lies an interesting conundrum of a double standard common in humans. As we all do, you view yourself differently than others view you while suggesting others must be as you view them. Which is more important, intent or action, how someone intends to come across to others or how they actually do? Is someone who makes a seemingly sexist or racist joke revealing themself to be a terrible person, or simply someone making a bad joke to someone they view as a friend as well as colleague? Given the somewhat stereotypical but common "nerdy-ness" of engineers, often lacking in social skills, etc I'd suggest that intent is far more important than action and taking someone's words at apparent face value as simply nonsense. Another important consideration in this matter is that while the ideological strive to be the utmost professional at all times in their business transactions, reality is that behavior leads to mediocrity and failure. To be truly effective in a team environment we need a level of trust and honesty well beyond professionalism, we need to be able to make bad jokes, say stupid things, and have our colleagues recognize intent rather than simply the action itself as "family" would. That's the secret to success in the military, sensitivity to such petty things is chaptered out as the weakness it is. Sadly, many times in the civilian world taking the social justice warrior's stand and declaring others evil, racist, etc bc of such trivial matters as a singular occurrence of "no tickee no washee" is applauded as heroic.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

"simply someone making a bad joke to someone they view as a friend as well as colleague"
"trivial matters as a singular occurrence of "no tickee no washee"

I completely disagree with this notion that 50 years after the Civil Rights Act that making disparaging jokes about n*** or chin** should even come up in any context. Why would these "jokes" be roiling around in anyone's head, to be randomly spouted out? I see these not as "singular" events, but more as a revealing tell into an otherwise impenetrable facade. I don't necessarily think that such people are "terrible," they are simply on the spectrum of terribleness in human nature. It's no different than the psychopathic spectrum, where a mild case results in business success, and a severe case results in mass murder. The mild psychopaths are hard to spot in a normal interpersonal interaction, but follow them onto a crowded freeway exit, and it'll be absurdly obvious.

And btw, that guy was, in the end, an actual a terrible person, who would say all the right things when needed, but had zero qualms about cheating on specs and delivering product that was claimed to meet spec, but was never tested to spec. The only reason the comment was surprising, at the time, was simply because I hadn't known him more than 3 months. At the end of 2 years, the picture was quite different from the initial impression.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

2
As some have alluded to, all it takes for a female to be put off from studying STEM or joining a male dominated field is an offhand sexist comment or just a general sexist behaviour. Certainly cases of sexual violence and rape should be treated seriously. However, the issue we are now facing is that sexist behaviour has become entirely subjective and based on someones feelings instead of being an objective, clear, and provable crime.

For those of us in Australia, this study was shoved down our throat for about two weeks after it was released (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-01/uni-sexual-a...). There was no critical discussion of the study or how it was conducted and any minor suggestion was immediately attacked as being sexist. Apparently, over 50% of the female university students were sexually harassed or assaulted during 1 year and, overwhelmingly, men were the perpetrators. What is included in the new definition of sexual harassment? Inappropriate staring (such as someone looking at you on the bus). Intrusive questions about someones personal life (such as asking what did you do on the weekend). Sexually suggestive comments or jokes (key word here being suggestive).

Weirdly, the study finds bisexual and asexual people are the most likely to be sexually assaulted. Why would this be? Are asexual people telling everyone they're asexual and then being targeted? In that case, why don't they stop advertising there asexuality? Or is it just that they more likely to just perceive there to be sexual assault and harassment where none exist.

The effect that this new sexual harassment definition has is clear (http://theconversation.com/male-teachers-are-an-en...). Since 1980 there has been a linear decline in the number of male teachers in Australia and if this continues, by 2060, there will be no male teachers. Young males see this cultural change clearly and are not stupid. They know they can be punished for anything now, since everything can be perceived as sexual harassment by someone out there. So they are removing themselves from anything to do with children or women out of fear.

Regarding blind recruitment, many studies are conflicting and I would be hesitant to create an argument around one of the studies. For example the Australian government halted blind recruitment due to it making things worse http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-30/bilnd-recrui...). Also, (http://www.pnas.org/content/112/17/5360.full).

Regarding male teachers negatively affecting women's interest in STEM, all of my high school maths teachers were female apart from the lower level maths. In my calculus class there was only 1 female student even though calculus was taught only by females. And that 1 female student went on to study economics, not STEM. The most female students was actually in the only class with solely male teachers which was chemistry. Maybe the students chose the classes based on their interests and not on the gender of the teacher.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

(OP)
Fascinating- the exact opposite result occurred when blind auditions were used for symphony musicians. In that case, only the quality of the playing mattered, and the previous bias toward male musicians was significantly erased. But I guess if you judge people based solely on their qualifications and experience, the males benefit from an entrenched bias and hence had more access to gain the necessary experience- or so it might be argued.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

CWB1, I never would have thought to consider the human being in its entirety. Now that my sarcasm is exhausted...

I have walked a long way with a lot of very difficult people. I have given people many opportunities and a lot of assistance much to my detriment. After decades of walking with people whose actions and words are consistently misaligned, I see the folly of it. I am not talking normal people but people with serious, consistently practiced character flaws.

I do not attribute the cruddy behavior of one man or woman onto the rest of the gender. Nor do I put people into little boxes of what I think they should be. That's juvenile. It's also unrealistic across the spectrum of life. I've worked in large corporations most of my career and have not had the luxury of working with people that were supposed to be a "certain" way according to "my" rules. That's not fair to them. It's also not fair to me, which is my main concern.

A couple of years ago I read some of the global humanitarian documents and learned that even POWs are not to be intimidated because that prevents the full expression of their personalities. That's the way I've tried to conduct myself. I know what stifling is and I don't like it. So, I've taken behaviors I've not wanted in stride. Most men have been well behaved. Others not so much but when you tell them to stop, they stop. Others have no problem ignoring boundaries set by others and no compunction about what they do so they ignore all requests to stop. The habitual offenders, over months and years, are the ones I take exception to and believe most women are the same. The ones I've talked with personally are like me. The habitual offenders all should take exception to. If they'll habitually do it to me, they habitually do it to a man to get what they want.

My dad was in the mob. You cannot teach me much about men that I didn't learn as a child. And, I loved my dad very much.

nonplussed, it may not take much for some women to avoid STEM but that's not true of some of us. Not forgetting who the majority is might be helpful. I'm in a chapter of NSPE and we had a local Dean in yesterday. Remembering who the majority is in engineering was one of his points in discussing the university, its student body makeup, and the makeup of engineering as a whole. There are challenges to overcome. If we cannot overcome them, we, the US, lose.

My HS math teacher was a male and very encouraging to me and others to pursue STEM. He considered raw ability only.

I see your anger over the study. Why such anger and why do you feel it was "shoved" down your throat?

One of my designers told me 20+ years ago that he had always blamed females for male "unwanted" advances, unwed mothers, etc. until he witnessed an event. He went to a HS sporting event. There he witnessed a HS boy put an extreme amount of pressure on a HS girl for sex. He badgered her in spite of her protests. He followed her around to badger her. When she would emerge from the water closet, he was there to badger her. He badgered her until she gave in; he wore her resolve down.

My designer never treated women that way thus didn't think any other man did either. His male relatives and friends didn't. He had no reason to think outside of his own experiences until that night, that game. Then, he got it.

That was his experience. Those are a man's words about his experience and his growth.

I don't see the world in simplistic terms because that does not reflect my experience.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

I'm not especially convinced by that Australian Public Service experiment. If assessors are already positively in favor of female applicants, then giving them male names will reduce the recruitment rate for females, even if they are equally qualified.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Quote:

I completely disagree with this notion that 50 years after the Civil Rights Act that making disparaging jokes about n*** or chin** should even come up in any context. Why would these "jokes" be roiling around in anyone's head, to be randomly spouted out?

To poke fun at other threads I'd ask why anyone would get a tattoo, use tobacco, or do anything else that might be harmful or objectionable to others? Probably for the same reasons folks do most things, because they believe those things are either enjoyable or necessary. Having grown up rather poor with what many would consider "low class" folks, if adults' actions are well meant and not harming others then I see no reason to be upset about or nitpick them. Crack a "white boy" joke on the basketball court amongst the usual jocular trash-talk and I'll probably play into it because I'm terrible at the game and understand its not meant seriously. OTOH, if someone is a horrible person trying to harm others then by all means, scrutinize their actions all you want.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

Ms. Quillin,

Do you believe that if workplace sexism were eliminated, and all salaries for all jobs were the identical, that women would be 50% of the engineering workforce?

Do you believe that if workplace sexism were eliminated, and all salaries for all jobs were the identical, that women would be 50% of the garbage collection workforce?

I'm not saying sexism doesn't exist. I think it absolutely does. I'm merely asking for clarifications of your position. If not 50%, what percentage do you think these two example professions would naturally stabilize at, if sexism went away and there were no salary pressures involved?

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

beej67, no and no. I would expect engineering to be on par with doctors, surgeons, attorneys, and judges, which is around 34%, if memory serves.

I don't advocate for 50/50 either. Again, I think young people need to get the truth about professions (great, good, bad, and ugly) and determine their own course for a career. Parents and too many others, in my limited experience, dictate or sell young people on specific careers, which may or may not interest them. I have a friend who was pressured to study medicine, which he did and dropped out because that was not his true interest. He ended up programming sans degree because that was a way to earn money and not much else. Young people don't need to be derailed through pressure or glitzy sales pitches. They need truth because that is the basis of sound decisions.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

It seems like civil and environmental engineering have the most women compared to other engineering disciplines, from my personal anecdotal experience. It was like that in school, too. Yet, as closely connected to construction as these disciplines are, there are WAY less women in construction management or superintendent positions. Do you think we should be raising the participation of women in construction, like engineering? Just curious what others, particularly the women here think. I have no opinion one way or the other.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

The issue is really to identify and remove institutional impediments to participation, and not some arbitrary "participation rate;" by this I mean removing all the hidden and overt biases that are built into process of becoming an engineer, or a doctor, or whatever. You, and you alone, should be able to make that, or any other, choice for yourself, without hindrances or slantings of the truth.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

...and then there's this:

Boys are whizzes at STEM

...and yes, that is a pun.

______________________________________________________________________________
This is normally the space where people post something insightful.

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

And yet, our favorite cartoons, such as The Roadrunner, belie the notion of parabolic motion.

Seems to a major stretch; one could just as easily, and possibly more plausibly, argue that playing catch would also lead to insights into parabolic motion.

And let's not forget that parabolic motion is, what, a couple of weeks out of an entirety of high school physics?

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Girls in STEM is failing both girls and STEM?

IRStuff, this works nicely with your opinion poll, Pew Research Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation After the last POTUS election, I am considering becoming an independent. I didn't watch the GOP primary debates because of one man. After 15-20 minutes, continuing was pointless.

From the NY Times, Women Around the World Report Gender Issues in Tech Firms

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

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