The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has just released a special issue of SWE Magazine, which includes SWE’s Annual Literature Review on women in engineering and a focus on the evolution and state of gender bias in engineering.
SWE’s Literature Review summarizes current research on women in engineering as part of a continuing effort to deepen understanding of the current realities by improving access to the best research in the field.
“We know that women continue to be underrepresented in engineering, but the question remains: Why?” said Karen Horting, CAE, executive director and CEO of SWE. “This literature review is intended to shed light on how that question is being answered, and ultimately inspire evolution and progress in the advancement of women in engineering and technology.”
Learn more about SWE's Literature Review on SWE's Research site and in this podcast with two of the authors of this year's Literature Review. You can also download a compilation of all SWE Literature Reviews since 2001.
This year’s Literature Review pulls from more than 125 books and articles published in 2016, located by an extensive search of the social scientific and engineering literature. Two themes were identified from the Literature Review:
- Women are underrepresented in engineering because women are less likely than men to pursue an educational pathway that leads to an engineering degree, despite having appropriate academic preparation and capability; and
- Women who are attracted to engineering as a field and start down the road toward an engineering career are more likely than their male counterparts to leave. This is due, at least in part, to a lack of opportunity, negative experiences at the hands of managers and co-workers and a lack of support.
The Literature Review provides a deeper understanding of these issues with specific findings from studies published throughout the year.
The special issue also includes an editorial analysis of gender and its role in engineering and technology fields, including:
- A refocus in the discussion from gender bias to gendered innovations, and advancement in research of sophisticated methods of sex and gender analysis
- An intersection of gender, engineering and sustainability
- Advancements in policies in Europe and Canada that are taking direct and uncompromising approaches toward resolving gender-based inequities
- The evolution of Title IX and importance of supporting educational institutions with the resources and staff they need to ensure compliance and implementation of diversity programs.
- A deeper look at gender and racial bias from SWE’s recent study, “Climate Control: Gender and Racial Bias in Engineering”
“Media coverage of the state of women in engineering certainly highlights women’s important contributions to STEM, and it’s clear that progress has been made toward gender integration,” said Roberta Rincon, Ph.D., manager of research at SWE. “But only through careful, objective attention to scholarly research can we identify the causes of women’s underrepresentation in engineering, and appreciate how much progress has been made to eliminate traditional barriers to gender equity as well as how much more still needs to be done to address the inequities that remain.”
Contents of SWE Magazine's Special Issue
SWE’s annual assessment of the most significant research found in the past year’s social science literature includes recommendations for future analysis and study, plus insights that may lead toward policies that will remedy the underrepresentation of women in engineering and STEM disciplines overall.
Meet Londa Schiebinger, Ph.D., of Stanford University, and Ellie Cosgrave, Ph.D. of University College London, U.K. Both women posit that better science, innovation, and discovery are the outcomes of a gender-responsible approach to research — one that is based on sex and gender analysis.
SWE’s recent study, “Climate Control: Gender and Racial Bias in Engineering,” yielded a wealth of quantitative and qualitative data. Both are examined here, offering significant, firsthand information on the ways implicit bias plays out in the profession.
The 45th anniversary of Title IX, the groundbreaking legislation that ensures protection against sex discrimination in education, is June 2017. Two experts on the issue offer their perspectives on the progress thus far, and what’s needed to ensure it continues.
Policymakers from several European countries and Canada discuss direct actions being taken to resolve gender-based inequities, providing a look at the process of setting policy and obtaining results.
Thank you to SWE's Corporate Partnership Council for supporting this Special Issue of SWE Magazine.
SWE Magazine is the official publication of SWE, providing technical tips, professional development, job listings and developments in the engineering profession. For more information about the Society, please visit www.swe.org or call 312.596.5223.