International Business & Economy Why are female engineers shunned in the engineering field?

Why are female engineers shunned in the engineering field?




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By: Gina

The government is trying to encourage graduating engineering students to work in the engineering field instead of the more attractive financial field. I am one of the females that is determined to work in the engineering field.

After finishing my diploma in Chemical Engineering, I went on to pursue a degree in the local university since I had the grades, interest and the opportunity (financially stable and free of responsibilities) to do so. At that time, I felt that a degree will improve my knowledge and employability in the male-dominated technical field.

After graduation, there seems to be more vacancies for technicians compared to engineers.

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I decided to focus on getting a technician job since I had gone through a diploma course that trained me for those kind of job (practicals in pilot plant environment and internship) and I do not mind the diploma pay as long as I can bring in income for my family as soon as possible.

However, from the feedback I get from recruiters, I have concluded that the reasons for the failure to get an interview for technician roles are as follow:

  • I am a female (high probability of leaving the technician role for family or childbirth and physically weaker than males).
  • I have a degree (high probability of leaving for higher pay when I have the technical experience).

Of course, my soft skills and experience level may have been a factor too, but I wonder, are degree holders condemned to take up management and leadership roles and positions?

I do not have issues with taking up leadership roles but what if I am willing to be a team player doing routine work like a technician to bring in an income for my family?

How can I convince employers that I will stay? How can I convince employers that even if I want to move on to a management role in the future, I will move within the company and benefit the company with my in house experiences and knowledge?

Also, I have been attending a WSQ Workplace Safety and Health coordinator course to build up on the skills that I can offer in the process plant. I am passionate in contributing to the quality, health, safety and environment area in the workplace.

Workplace safety and health requires:

  1. Great organization skills as there is a lot of paperwork involved (permits etc).
  2. Empathy and anticipation of danger (Sense of Caution).
  3. Great negotiation and communication skills with people of different functions and levels

These are skills that comes naturally to females too. So, I was surprised that the safety sector is also dominated by males. Understandably, to work in the safety sector, one should have hands-on experience in managing the operations in a plant, which is why I want to work in a plant to gain technical experience.

I am highly analytical, meticulous and I do not mind doing hands-on technical shift work or get myself dirty. I want to make full use of my youth to work in the engineering field, especially in the QHSE (Quality/Health/Safety/Environment) related sector.

I am open to laboratory technician, process Technician/Engineer and QHSE positions. How can I enter the safety field in engineering?

Edited and republished from Transitioning.

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