June 23 marks International Women in Engineering Day, which is dedicated to celebrating women trying to carve a space for themselves in a field that remains heavily male-dominated even today. But looking at recent statistics, this day should be more about creating awareness around the struggles women face in this field over everything else. The rate of female employment plummeted in India to nine percent in 2022? Forced to manage work with household duties, many women were unable to give their 100 percent to their job. Then there is the problem of the gender pay gap, which has managed to outlast wars and pandemics.
As the world celebrates International Women in Engineering Day today, it is imperative to take stock of the situation for female engineers in our country. Here are some stats that will help paint a picture of concern and raise questions on why the plight of so many educated women in our society remains unnoticed.
Interesting Facts About Women In Engineering
Internationally, Women Hold Less Than 30 percent Of Science And Engineering Jobs
According to research done by the Society of Women Engineers, almost half (49.6 percent) of the science and engineering degrees were earned by women in 2018. Yet, women only held 29.4 percent of science and engineering jobs in 2019.
While almost the same amount of women have science and engineering degrees, more than 70 percent of the workforce consists of men. Why is that so? What is being done to plug this leak that causes a drop in number of women engineers at work, as compared to those who hold a degree?
India Leads In Number Of Female STEM Graduates, But Only 14 percent Are Employed In Research
At 43 percent, India leads in producing female science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates, in the world. However, only 14 percent of the scientists, engineers, and technologists in research are women.
This stark contrast shows that the status of women’s education has improved, but employability remains a barrier for women.
International Women in Engineering Day is a tribute to the anniversary of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), established on June 23, 1919. WES is the first professional body set up for women working in all areas of engineering.
Male candidates receive preferential treatment and do not have to deal with the outdated notions that women candidates do. There is an abundance of talent when it comes to female candidates, so when are companies going to hire them?
There is no point producing women graduates if the system cannot ensure that women have equal opportunity of employment across the spectrum.
Suggested Reading: How Damyanti Gupta Became Ford’s First Female Engineer
Female Students Perform Better Than Male Students In STEM Subjects
Research shows that while female students outperform male students in STEM-related subject. Female students had higher grades as compared to male students by 6.3 percent. In STEM subjects, female students had higher grades by 3.1 percent.
Due to prejudices and misconceptions, there is an assumption that men are more adept at subjects such as mathematics and science. The assumption that men are more suited to STEM kept women out of the fields for decades. Rather than deal with sexism and be perceived as less competent, they simply work in fields that are not notoriously male-dominated.
These statistics however prove that excellence in a field has nothing to do with gender.
Women In Engineering Are Paid Lesser Than Men
In 2020, men were offered a higher salary than women for the same post at the same company 63 percent of the time, according to Hired’s State of Wage Inequality in the Tech Industry report. Despite being equally talented if people from a population group is consistently being paid less then it hints at bias. In this case the bias is on basis of gender.
Being paid less despite putting in as much as your peers do is one of the factors which deters women from seeking promotions and even could provoke them to drop out of workforce altogether. And yet, this disturbing practice of underpaying female employees continues to be prevalent.
The fact that India leads in producing female graduates in STEM across the world is commendable, but the dismal rate of 14 percent of scientists and engineers in research serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done. Factors such as discrimination, prejudice, and the gender wage gap serve as hurdles for women in engineering.
Today, apart from celebrating the contribution of women to the field of engineering we need to introspect on what more can be done to increase their participation in STEM workforce and how we can ensure that their paycheck is determined by their talent, not their gender.