Female engineers will come across all types of stereotypes and prejudices that men simply wouldn’t have. Speaking up for yourself, as a minority in this field is crucial to being listened to and taken seriously. All too often, women in engineering will have to work twice as hard for the same recognition in what is so often seen as a man’s world.
Three years ago, there were statistics that showed how over forty percent of women who studied engineering degrees either quit or did not enter the profession at all. With women being pushed to study so-called ‘girly degrees’ usually within the arts, the danger of engineering and other similar professions being entirely devoid of females is worryingly real. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness of the need for women in engineering, and many companies are addressing this gap.
Difficult workplace conditions mean that women feel uncomfortable, or out of their depth even if they are confident in their ability to do the job well. In the face of prejudiced or male-dominated workplaces, there are many ways to find your place in this industry and improve your satisfaction, without having to compromise your identity as a woman and an engineer.
Being affirmative is one of the best ways to show people that you are not going to let yourself be ignored or brushed under the carpet. When it comes to developing new systems you might struggle to find yourself listened to, not only by contractors or external workers but even by your colleagues. It may sound obvious, therefore, but standing up for yourself and politely but firmly getting your message across that you intend to be listened to and noticed just as much as anyone else is key to people listening to you and respecting you in the future.
If you are the most qualified, then people will have a reason to listen to you and to respect you in your career. However, building yourself a reputation based on being someone who is a hard worker, who does a good job, and is trustworthy and responsible are equally as important. These traits will mean that you are recognized for your achievements as well as for your personality and personal character. Knowing your field inside and out, be that within an industrial internet of things company or Aerospace and Avionics, then being more knowledgeable than other people on your team will ensure people come to see you as a force to be reckoned with.
Don’t be afraid to get physical. If your job sees you on a building site or in a muddy field, then make sure that you show that you are keen to get involved as much as anyone else. Being the first one to get involved can show people that they should not underestimate me just because you are a woman. This may seem obvious, and this is simply to reiterate the prejudices that many people will have concerning women in the world of engineering.
If you want to study engineering but are afraid to commit to something that might prove a struggle, then make the most of scholarships and bursaries that have been created with the aim to level the inequalities and the limited amount of women who are choosing to study engineering degrees. There are often many scholarships in the sciences, more so than the arts, which cater specifically towards women, as they are seen as underrepresented in this field. This is an important step in the right direction, and while there is still some way to go before there is equality in the sciences, and particularly in the field of engineering, there are more women who are deciding to go into these fields than ever before.