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Where are the Women in the Engineering Labour Market? A Cross-Sectional Study

Seema Singh, Sarah Matilde Catherine Peers

Abstract


Traditionally, engineering has been a male bastion throughout the world. However, during the past 15 to 20 years, the need for gender diversity has become increasingly understood by stakeholders. Against this background the study discusses the participation of women in engineering education and employment from across the world to uncover specific differences and similarities. Today, in almost all countries, various stakeholders are taking affirmative action to enhance participation. Yet not all actions are equally effective, and progress is sometimes much slower than might be expected. An array of various socioeconomic-political factors provides the reasons for such outcomes. The countries studied have been divided into four groups based on the impact of various socioeconomic factors on women’s participation across engineering. Example actions are discussed again for different levels of engineering—from students to practicing engineers. These, together with an understanding of what works, where and why, could be the start of a library of case studies that organisations such as the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES)[i] may share with those working to increase gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) around the world. Even though there is a paucity of research or data for some areas of the globe, particularly in the engineering workforce, one point that emerges from this paper is that, in order to enhance the effectiveness of affirmative programmes, socioeconomic-political factors must be taken into consideration.

 


[i] The authors are members of the 2017-2020 Executive Board of INWES.


Keywords


Women; engineers; affirmative action; engineering education; labour market; STEM

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