“Why the nation needs more female engineers”

Posted on 05/03/2012

TheWashingtonPost

Why the nation needs more female engineers

Here is a guest post from Stephanie Hill, president of Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions-Civil division.


Stephanie Hill (Mike Rote/Lockheed Martin Corp.) “Are you sure you want to be a software engineer? You are such a people person. Won’t you be stuck working alone, staring at a computer for hours on end?”

Those were the questions that my sister asked as I declared my intent to pursue a software engineering degree at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). She was right – I am a people person. In fact, in high school I intended to pursue a career in psychiatry. But a college elective course – in COBOL programming – peaked my interest like nothing before. And with wonderful mentors who provided me a glimpse into various career opportunities, I shifted gears, full speed ahead into the world of engineering. I have not looked back since.

As an African-American, female engineer, I’m certainly in the minority. New statistics released this month by theCongressional Joint Economic Committee note that while women now comprise a growing share of the college-educated workforce, only 14 percent of engineers are women, as are just 27 percent of individuals working in computer science and math positions. There is a similar under-representation of Hispanic and black non-Hispanic workers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering math) workforce. Each of these groups accounts for only 6 percent of STEM workers. Overall, the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM fields peaked at 24 percent in 1985; by 2009, the share had fallen to 18 percent.

At the same time we are producing fewer engineers, the need for this profession has never been greater. Think of the many challenges facing our nation that engineers – yes, engineers – grapple with every day: from protecting our national security from cybersecurity threats to our energy utilities and financial markets, to finding new energy solutions to decrease our independence on fuel, to supporting the FBI and law enforcement in decreasing terrorist threats with cutting-edge identification tools. With the pending retirement of many of our hardest-working baby boomer engineers, it’s up to the next generation workforce to step up and take on these exciting careers in engineering, and it’s up to the seasoned generation of engineers to drive excitement in this next generation workforce.

The Role of Industry

A recent Washington Post column by Kristin Tichenor of Worcester Polytechnic Institute discussed the many reasons why young women shy away from engineering as a career, including a lack of female engineering role models, having little knowledge of the solution-oriented work of engineers, and misconceptions about engineering being a “solitary” profession.

Many school systems across the nation are doing incredible work exposing students to engineering. For example, in D.C., Cardozo High School’s TransTech Academy now includes a pre-engineering curriculum.

But schools cannot go it alone. Industry must step up its role in attracting young women to this exciting career where they can truly make a difference in people’s daily lives.

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Survey Results: 1 out of 10 Women Feel Attactive

Troubling results from a recent study regarding the self-esteem of women in the United Kingdom.

Are You Attractive? 9 out of 10 Women Say NO

A UK survey explores the rules of attraction

 
A thousand women were recently surveyed on the topics of beauty and confidence. The Dove Body Confidence Census 2012, conducted in the UK among women aged 18 to 64, suggests that low self-esteem apparently runs quite high.

“If you ask a normal woman on the street how she describes herself — her looks, her body — the biggest response that comes back is that she feels average,” said a spokesperson for Dove in an interview with Female First. “Only 2 percent of women are saying, ‘I’m beautiful’ and only 1 in 10 are saying, ‘I feel attractive.’ That’s just not where we want to be.”

The survey contains telling insights, though you can’t quite call it a serious scientific study. It’s no mistake that the survey was conducted by Dove, the body-products company whose self-esteem campaign has been noted for challenging modern body-image norms — or at least the norms in advertising and the media. The models in Dove print and television ads would be dubbed “plus-sized” by the fashion industry, while the rest of us would call them “people-sized.” Much to their credit, Dove also has a social mission to inspire good role modeling for young people, and is partnered with kid-influencing organizations like the Girl Scouts and the Boys & Girls Clubs Of America. We won’t hold against Dove that it’s made by the same global corporation that produces Axe, whose commercials for male grooming products perpetuate the exact stereotypes Dove is trying to wash away. Unilever also makes Popsicles and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. But we digress.

Why the apparent lack of confidence among women? And are the results reliable, or might someone who’s genuinely beautiful inside and out have the grace not to say so? It seems like a no-brainer to blame low self image on media outlets at large, given all the bony butts on display in commercials, movies, and magazine covers. Yet the highest percentage of survey subjects — one in four — said the biggest pressure to be beautiful comes from within. “Society” was the second culprit. Only one in ten women blamed the media. A mere five percent felt pressure from friends, family, and partners.

“Being loved” was the greatest confidence booster of all, and half of all women said they feel more confident when they are complimented. Curiously, the number of compliments women delve out drops as women get older. Does that indicate that beauty gets deprioritized with maturity, or just that older women become less generous? The survey doesn’t say. But what does seem clear is that no matter how likely a woman may be to appreciate what she sees in the mirror, she just won’t believe her eyes till someone else tells her to.

Tell us on Facebook: Do you think you’re attractive?

“Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?”

A NY Times article:

Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?

By KJ DELL’ANTONIA
 
Motherlode Book Club
 
THE CONFLICT

Elisabeth Badinter’s “The Conflict” argues that the modern natural-parenting movement undermines women.

Officially conceded, after the commentary on yesterday’s post regarding Hilary Rosen’s description of Ann Romney as “never having worked a day in her life:” the “mommy wars” between (some) stay-at-home mothers and (some) mothers who work outside the home are still raging.

Most agreed it was a linguistic distinction, and a Twitstorm not worth the pixels it flickered so quickly through. But what seems like a distinction without a difference to so many still has the power to fan the defensive flames of women who know, or suspect, that their fellow mothers question their choice to work or to stay home.

Elisabeth Badinter’s book, “The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women,” is guaranteed to feed that fire. Not only does she believe that the best course of action for any woman, no matter what her maternal status, is to stay in the work force, but she also argues that the women who have chosen to do otherwise have essentially been sold a bill of goods.

Influenced and deceived by the modern natural-parenting movement — with its labor-intensive breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and requirement that infants be properly stimulated and nurtured at all times — mothers “choose” to stay home because if they do not, they cannot meet the standards of this new ideal.

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“Miss Representation” movie screening at CSH 4/17 @ 6:30 pm

Please join us for the screening of the film “Miss Representation” in the De Csepel Theater at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, CT on April 17 @ 6:30 pm.  Middle and Upper School students, parents from all divisions and the public are invited.  Please watch the trailer (below) to ensure that the film is appropriate for your daughter.

From: http://www.missrepresentation.org/ 

 

The documentary Miss Representation, by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

The film explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.