FEBE1000A Essay Assignment Essay

Table of Contents

Introduction 4


Culture implications4


Career choice issues 5

Late entry 5

Gender inequality6 Argue for equality6

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Conclusion 7

References 8

The under-representation of women in the engineering profession.

“Science is not a boy’s game, it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everyone’s game. It’s about where we are and where we’re going” – Nichols. There is this stigma that engineering is a male profession due to the concentration of male engineers. Factors such as culture, patriarchy, misogyny, religion and toxic masculinity are other influences of the lack of women in engineering.

According to the Oxford English dictionary engineering is the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures. As far as this definition is concerned, engineering is not dependent on gender but the abilities of an individual. It is confusing why women are so marginalized when it comes to this issue. In order to establish gender equality in the engineering profession, we must break the under-representation of women in this profession.

This essay will be successful in addressing the issues that women face in the engineering department and how we can combat this issue.

It is an indisputable fact that men and women were not created the same way but in South African indigenous cultures and traditions perpetuate these differences. For example, men are given cars and aeroplanes to play with and girls are given dolls and kitchen sets (Ngozi, 2014). It makes it quite difficult for the girl child to get in a field of systems and machines because this is something foreign to her. Girls are taught from birth that their place is in the kitchen and nowhere else hence the lack of women in the engineering sector. This in one’s view can be seen as a gendered upbringing, which is a stigma created by parents when we look at it at first instance. Culture looks at women and their intellect abilities at a narrow point of view which means that it does not take its time to understand what women can do in this male-dominated field. One could view such action by all cultures as “culture defence” which is when a person uses culture as a way to shield their wrongdoing like for example believing that women must be submissive to men.

“Women are repressed, overlooked and oppressed by every religion in the world. They are deemed inferior to men by these organizations and are therefore condemned to be a second-class type of person”. In many types of religions, women are seen as objects that were created to serve men. Christian Bible: Paul to the Ephesians in the New Testament ” The women shall be servants to their men who are their masters”. Women are then compelled to marry old leaders of the church and to get into polygamy. As a result, the men, especially through their religious beliefs, threaten and rigorously hinder the utilization of an infinite amount of talent and abilities within women. Abilities to do exceptionally in STEM fields and this how religions promote under-representation of women in the engineering profession.

There are many arguments that have been raised surrounding the fact that most men feel intimidated by successful women or a woman that is above their class, which is why many women are not given leadership positions or it is rare to find women in higher positions when it comes to leading the engineering department. It is quite inspirational to see women in careers that were said to be for men only. Law, engineering and accounting are seen to be careers for men and women can just be teachers and housewives. Our environments are very important in determining the kind of people we will be. School teachers especially math and physics teachers from my own experience would be willing to help the boy child than the girl child. Such things demotivate girls because to them they are seen as unable to do these analytical subjects.

The engineering field has always stood dominated by men. This high concentration of men in this industry is an issue for the young girls that are interested in becoming engineers. The problem is that they do not have or know any women in the engineering field that they will look up to, as their role models. Due to this lack of female role models, they became discouraged to pursue their dreams of embarking in anything related to engineering. It is only now in the 21st century that we actually see women in this male-dominated industry. Due to concepts such as patriarchy, a woman’s place has always been in the kitchen rather than out there working and creating engineering models. Due to the fact that women are entering this industry, prospects of growth must also increase. The industry does not make it easy for women to enter it generally.

Most parents contribute to the fewer number of girls that do engineering as their career by not supporting their young girls that have a desire to become engineers, this is a gender stereotype that even our parents do. They believe that engineering is for men and it involves working in hazardous environments that require masculinity, For example, mining engineering. Parents disparage the abilities of their young girls to perform equally as boys in the STEM fields. That is the reason why the career paths of most girls are chosen for by their parents and will usually be something like nursing, culinary, teaching, social work and so on. Parents give gender biased advice to their children, the guidance that is addressed to a young man is different from the one that will be given to a young female.

An engineer named Priyanka Dhopade argues that the problem is not only that there are few women in this sector but that there are bigger problems that are very diverse than these narrow arguments about women which is why people have to look at this in a diverse way. She argues that the field also has to involve different members of the community such as different ethnic groups and the different economic classes in the community. She goes on to say that teachers and parents must be taught about this field in order to pass on the knowledge about it in order to make girls interested and to increase the number of girls in the field. she also argues that the environment must be inviting for if they are interested. This engineer argues that role models are there but they are not exposed enough or their work is not exposed enough (Briggs, 2018). Such arguments from qualified female engineers help see the main problems and not the surface.

Many women engineers quit their jobs because of isolation and men attitude towards them. In the industry that is full of males, females working with them are subjected to many difficulties such as having to be perfect in every way. When a man makes a mistake it is overlooked, but when the same mistake is made a woman it becomes a big deal. Most leaders in the engineering industry are males, and they are the cause of wide disparities between men and women in a way that women are victims of these unfair treatments. These leaders are so cruel that they will prompt for sex in order for a female worker to get a promotion, something that does not happen to male workers even though they equally deserve a promotion. In 2013 the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) “said almost 11% of the total number of engineers registered with the council were women, but that professional women engineers totalled only 4%”. Women end up leaving their occupations in the engineering industry because of the gender-bias that they experience and This account for the small number of females in this industry.

On one abstract found there are arguments that the is a huge turnover of women from men and that researchers have made a number of means to address this and look at this huge gap and that a huge mile has to be taken to really understand this huge difference (Frehill, 2010). There is a theory that is created to look at the reasons why women and men leave this field called the theory of work adjustment (Davis and Lofquist, 1984). The underlying factors include poor working conditions, the huge difference in payments, the too much demanding job and trying to balance work and family. Secondly the fact that some requirements are not met and lastly the fact that the is lack of recognition at work. This is in line with the fact that the solutions are broader than what we see or what is put on the table.

This inequality in the engineering industry must be broken down. Factors such as patriarchy, gender-stereotypes, gender-bias etc need to be eliminated. Young women must be encouraged in many ways to go for STEM fields, especially engineering. One thing that can be done is to put up billboards and advertisements on social media of women in construction sites wearing pick helmets. This could attract many young girls since they are fond of pink colours. Taking female children to work could be a great step that parents can take to support their children as soon as they see that they are interested in becoming engineers. Removing gender discrimination begins in our familial structures, there shouldn’t be chores that are meant for a specific gender. For example, painting, washing dishes, fixing broken appliances, mourning the lawn etc. This promotes inequality and we should strive for equality. Generally, they are two types of equality in South Africa namely formal equality and substantive. Formal equality is when everyone is treated equally without recognising any differences whereas substantive equality recognises the differences between people and caters for them in a way that is equal for all but the above does not use any of the types of equalities that one has set out.

In conclusion, this essay was able to give an introduction using a relevant quote to the matter at hand and it also set out a roadmap to what was going to be discussed in the body. The essay went on to discuss how childhood has a distinction between what a girl should do and what the boy should do. The essay also discussed cultural defence. Then the essay went on to look at other sectors that exist besides engineering. The essay went on to look at the problems that cause this huge difference in the field. The essay went on to support its arguments with reference to the statistics. The essay also looked at the different types of equality that exist in South Africa. The essay also looked at the arguments that were made by qualified female engineers in the field as to what is wrong and what should be done to combat these problems. The essay also looked at the theory that was created to understand the problems at hand. Then lastly the essay went on look at all the religious arguments at hand with reference to the bible as well.


Nichols, M. (2017). 13 Empowering Quotes From Famous Women in STEM. [online] GineersNow. Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2019].

Ceci, S. and Williams, W. (2011). Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, [online] 108(8), pp.3157-3162. Available at: [Accessed 13 Mar. 2019].

Clutter, C. (2010). The effects of parental influence on their children’s career choices. [online] Hays, pp.28-30. Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2019].

Dhopade, P. (2018). Women into Engineering: An interview with Priyanka Dhopade. Cogent Engineering, [online] 5(1), pp.1-6. Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2019].

Quinones, S. (2017). Gender Equality in STEM: Empowering women through leadership and engineering education strategies. STEM Gender Equality Congress Proceedings, 1(1), pp.751-784.

Fouad, N., Chang, W., Wan, M. and Singh, R. (2019). Women’s Reasons for Leaving the Engineering Field. [online] Doaj.org. Available at: [Accessed 18 Mar. 2019].

Thompson, M. (2019). Women engineers quit over men’s attitudes. [online] The M&G Online. Available at: [Accessed 18 Mar. 2019].

Rey, R. (1997). Abuse of Women by Religions. [online] Raphaelonline.com. Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2019].

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