In education, engineering courses experience a huge gender gap and this could possibly be attributed to the findings of a recent education survey. The findings showed that girls do not elect to study engineering, as they are deemed as
‘boy subjects’ and they may appear ‘butch’ or ‘odd’ if they choose to study them.
As a result, females are choosing to study more stereotypical ‘girly’ subjects, such as dance or art. The survey found that girls are peer pressured into taking a subject they do not necessarily want to study, as they are afraid people will not accept their true choices.
Just 9 per cent of the engineering workforce is female. Furthermore, only 6 per cent of registered engineers and technicians are women. A recent study showed that the lack of girls studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses is the main reason behind the fact that women are not entering engineering.
However, putting subject choices aside, another issue which seems to put women off entering engineering is the health and safety in the workplace (HSE). Manual jobs naturally come with some risk and some can be dangerous.
Also, the high low ratio of women to men in the industry, and the known long hours has led to a perceived struggle to maintain a family life.
The study suggests that because many girls are pushing towards traditionally ‘feminine’ subjects, increasing the gender gap in engineering. This suggests that even though in the past women have pushed for equality; it could be argued some girls are making it worse.
In contrast, it could also be argued that there is a big gender gap within school subjects because of boys’ subject choice also. At school, boys like to impress their friends and they may do this by picking the more ‘manly’ subjects like PE or engineering. Some people may want to pick subjects like dance or art but fear of getting bullied by their friends. They may feel peer pressured into choosing subjects with their friends, rather than the ones they would most like to do.
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