Female engineers quit due to inhospitable work conditions

Female engineers quit due to inhospitable work conditions

Female engineers quit due to inhospitable work conditions

If we find less young female students opting for engineering courses, blame it on inhospitable work conditions.

According to a new US survey, nearly 40 percent of women who earn engineering degrees quit the profession or never enter the field.

For those who leave, poor workplace climate and mistreatment by managers and co-workers are common reasons.

"While women accounted for more than 20 percent of engineering school graduates over the past two decades, only 11 percent of practicing engineers are women, and only nine percent of electronic and environmental engineers are women," said Nadya Fouad from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

These findings are likely to apply to women working in fields where there are less than 30 percent women.

"These women are more vulnerable to being pushed out because they typically are not in the internal 'good old boys' network," Fouad added.

She presented findings from the first phase of a three-year US National Science Foundation study that surveyed 5,300 engineering alumnae spanning six decades - mostly from 30 universities with the highest number of women engineering graduates and from 200 other universities.

While 62 percent of the women surveyed persisted in their careers as engineers, 11 percent never entered the field, 21 percent left more than five years ago, and six percent left less than five years ago.

"Among women who left less than five years ago, two-thirds said they pursued better opportunities in other fields while a third stayed home with children because companies did not accommodate work-life concerns," Fouad noted.

Among those who went to other industries, 54 percent became executives, 22 percent were in management and 24 percent worked as staff members.

"These findings may not apply to women working in other professions, but the findings do apply to providing opportunities for training and advancement as well as encouraging a healthy work-life balance," researchers emphasised.

The survey findings were recently presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd annual convention.