Footprints of Women in Engineering By D.R.Bhagyashree (B.Tech II Year) G.Geetha (B.Tech II Year)Velammal College of Engineering & Technology Viraganoor, Madurai – 625 009
Abstract With women accounting for more than 50% of the world population, achieving genderparity is an issue of global concern. It has now been demonstrated conclusively that social aswell as economic development of a country is closely linked to the educational level of itsfemale population. Several factors influence the fact that girls are participating less and showless motivation to take parting science education. Some of the reasons are related todifferences in ways boys, girls learn, and the content of science education reflected in gender-biased curricula, textbooks, which are not related to women’s and girls’ concerns andinterests. Many of these factors are bound up with cultural and societal influences. Being awoman in engineering industry is different from being a man in engineering industry. Notbetter, not worse, but different. Gone are the days when female engineers were masculine,grim women who were constantly exhausting themselves to be considered equal to men. Thenouveau woman engineer is ambitious, comfortable in her own skin, strong, intelligent andfeminine. This paper contains the path, women entered in to engineering field and the initialphase of difficulties they faced. The facts and reasons, which were dragged them in toEngineering field, are explained. The main difficulties and hurdles are discussed once theyentered in to the field. The different field of study shows that women choose engineeringmainly because they enjoy the underlying mathematics and science. Working professionals inindustry or government perceive that women assume a more indirect, supporting role;however, women overall strongly affirm their selection of engineering despite some negativefactors. The comparison graphs and charts show the exponential growth of women engineersin the recent past. This number shows that the negative factors are not playing a huge role.Participation of women in the engineering profession is important from the viewpoint ofnational development. It is also an important factor in improving the quality of life of womenthemselves.Keywords: Women Engineers, Surveys, Maths and Science
Introduction and Entry into Engineering FieldEngineering originated in the fifteenth century as a means of describing the military endeavorof designing mechanical devices for warfare. Because of its birth in the military women wereautomatically excluded from engineering. After the Renaissance, the term engineering movedaway from military to construction of the Italian canals, design and building of roads andbridges in Europe. In the nineteenth century, focus of engineering was significantly expandedwith the development of steam engine and mechanics. These aspects augmented the need forformal education. Until 1824, neither school admitted women.By the end of the nineteenth century, electrical and chemical engineering were followedclosely behind Mechanical and civil Engineering. Many women were learned engineeringthrough on job training and not through formal education. In the late of nineteenth century,colleges opened their way to women.Impacts of World WarsDuring world war, women were encouraged to participate in the work force and support thewar effort, which included engineering jobs through apprenticed, but after the war, many mencame home expecting to be gainfully employed. Most of the women who had been employedfound themselves no longer welcome in the workforces. Young girls who did expresstechnical interests were often deliberately discouraged by negative remarks from family orteachers.Some institutes used women for a weapon to raise funds. That accelerated the rate of womenadmitted to the Engineering studies. Excellence in math and science was a primary factorpropelling respondents toward engineering. When asked why they went into engineering, thereasons most often given by men were (a) they had been dream from their childhood (b)their family members had encouraged them (c) they had been interested in mechanics orelectronics. For women most often given were, they had been good at math and science.These factors were opened the door for Women to enter the engineering world.The Hurdles and Answer: The following myth and reality shows the hurdles which are not allowed the women in toengineering field and the reality.Myth 1:Women have less aptitude for science than men.Reality:
There is no convincing evidence that women’s representation in science is limited by innateability. Substantive research data available today indicate that overall intelligence does notdiffer between men and women, and there is no convincing evidence that women’srepresentation in science is limited by innate abilityMyth 2:Women today are as free as men to pursue and advance in the scientific careers of theirchoice.Reality:In most societies, women hold the main family responsibilities and are expected to combinecareer and family commitments, often putting the needs of their spouse’s career ahead oftheirs. Although women have better access to education and employment in scientific fieldstoday than ever before, the playing field is not a level one. As women increasingly enter andtry to move up in traditionally male-dominated professions, they often face unfriendlyorganizational structures and policies that push them back. Even though women and men facemany similar hurdles in science, women are more likely to falter because they lack rolemodels, support systems to help them balance family and work, and professional networksthat men can tap into more easily.Myth 3:Women in science are recognized and rewarded in terms equal to their male counterparts withsimilar abilities.Reality:Women in science have to work harder than their male counterparts to prove themselves,sacrifice family priorities or face risky situations in order to be treated at par with their malecolleagues.Footprints of Women in Science and Engineering FieldsThe above myths lead to the presence of women in science, particularly physical science andEngineering is very low. India is no exception. But these hurdles are not applicable toeveryone in the engineering field, the following famous persons put their footprint our todaytopic. • Marie Curie: Nobel Prize received jointly with Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel) and Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1911. Marie Curie is possibly the world’s most famous woman scientist. She was born inPoland but went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, where she met her husband Pierre, whowas a physics professor. Following his death in 1906 she became Professor of GeneralPhysics and later Director of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute of the University of
Paris. She worked under difficult laboratory conditions, and had to teach a great deal. HenriBecquerel discovered radioactivity in 1896, and this inspired the Curies in their greatresearch, which led to the discovery of Polonium and Radium. During the first World WarMarie Curie devoted herself to using radium to alleviate suffering. She was recognised andadmired during her lifetime, received numerous awards, and is still revered as one of the mostimportant scientists ever to have lived. She did, however, have to struggle a great deal toobtain research funding and support, particularly after the death of her husband. She died ofleukemia in 1934 at the age of 67. Her life story is one of great courage and determination. • Irene Joliot-Curie: Nobel Prize 1935 – received jointly with Frederic Joliot Irene Joliot-Curie was the daughter of Marie Curie, born in Paris in 1897 and wasmarried to Frederick Joliot. She served as a nurse radiographer during the fi rst world war,which interrupted her studies in science in Paris. She received a doctorate in Science in 1925,on the alpha rays of polonium. Their Nobel Prize was received for their synthesis of newradioactive elements. She was appointed a lecturer in 1932 in the Faculty of Science, in 1937a Professor and later Director of the Radium Institute in 1946. She was a member of theComite National de l’Union des Femmes Francaises and of the World Peace Council. She wasappointed Undersecretary of State for scientific research in 1936 and was a member of severalforeign academies and scientific societies, and had a number of honorary doctorates. She diedin Paris in 1956. She was survived by a daughter and a son. • Gerty Cori: Nobel Prize 1947 – received jointly with Carl Cori and Bernardo HoussayGerty Cori was born in Prague in 1896 and studied at the German University of Prague,receiving a doctorate in medicine in 1920. In 1922, She immigrated to America with herhusband Carl. They had one son. She was made a Professor of Biochemistry in 1947 at St.Louis. The Coris collaborated in much of their research work and wrote many articlestogether. Their studies in biochemistry included work on the effects of insulin andepinephrine, work on carbohydrate metabolism, the pituitary gland and the enzymaticsynthesis of glucose • Gertrude B Elion: Nobel Prize 1988 – received jointly with Sir James W Black and George H HitchingsGertrude Elion was born in New York City in 1918. She had a Lithuanian immigrant fatherand Russian mother. Her father was a dentist. She went to a good public school in the Bronx.Her grandfather died of cancer when she was 15 and this motivated her to study somethingthat might lead to a cure for the disease. She entered Hunter College in 1933, and decided tomajor in chemistry. Because of the depression and discrimination against women in thesciences she was not able to go on to graduate school and so got an unpaid job as a laboratoryassistant for a chemist. After saving her stipends she went to graduate school at New YorkUniversity in 1939. She was the only woman in her graduate chemistry class. While studyingshe taught chemistry, physics and science at New York City schools. She obtained her M Scin 1941. After a number of laboratory jobs she obtained a research assistant position with Dr.George Hitchings and developed from an organic chemist into working in microbiology,biochemistry, pharmacology, immunology and eventually virology. After some years of doing
a doctorate part-time, she made the decision to give up her doctorate and continue with herjob. She later received a number of honorary doctorates! Her research focused on nucleic acidbiosynthesis and the enzymes involved with it, and she concentrated on the purines.Eventually her work and that of her colleagues led to new drugs addressing real medicalneeds. She became head of department at the Wellcome Research laboratories in 1967, aposition she held until 1983. She was associated with the National Cancer Institute from 1960,the American Cancer Society, and the World Health Organisation and was a member ofnumerous academic societies. After her retirement from the Wellcome laboratory, she becamea research Professor of Medicine and pharmacology at Duke University. Gertrude Elioninvented the leukemia-fighting drug 6-mercaptopurine in 1954. Her research led to thedevelopment of Imuran, a drug that aids the body in accepting transplanted organs, andZovirax, a drug used to fight herpes. Including 6-mercaptopurine, her name is associated with45 patents. She never married. • Christiane Nusslein-Volhard: Nobel Prize 1995 – received jointly with Edward B Lewis and Eric F Wieschaus)Christiane Nusslein-Volhard was born in 1942 in Germany. Her father was an architect andhis father a professor of medicine. They lived in Frankfurt and she was encouraged in heracademic pursuits by her parents. She knew very early on that she wanted to be a biologist asshe was interested in animals and plants. When she finished high school she consideredbecoming a doctor, but after working in a hospital for a short while, decided against it. Shestarted biology at Frankfurt University, but became drawn into physics and then moved intobiochemistry at Tubingen University. She also became interested in microbiology andgenetics. As a graduate student she worked in a chemistry laboratory on DNA sequencingtechniques and developed a new method for large-scale purification of very clean RNApolymerase. She finished her thesis in 1973 as a molecular biologist. In 1975 she went topost-doctoral research in Basel working in genetics with Drosophila (flies). She won theNobel Prize for her work in identifying genes that affect the development of the fruit fly.Their findings led to a better understanding of how a single fertilized egg develops into acomplex multicellular organism. This has application in explaining congenital defects inhumans. She is currently director of the Max-Planck Institute for Developmental Biology andhas become involved in projects encouraging and supporting women in science. • Linda B Buck: Nobel Prize 2004 – received jointly with Richard AxelLinda Buck, the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was bornin 1947 in Seattle, USA. She studied at the Universities of Washington and Texas, going on towork at Columbia University and then Harvard. She has received numerous awards andhonours. Her expertise and research interests are in the area of sensing of odors andpheromones. The work of Linda Buck and Richard Axel was the first to define in detail one ofour sensory systems, by defining the genes and proteins that control olfactory response. Shecurrently works at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre.Facts and Figures Women represent more than half the population, and 46% of the U.S. workforce, but just24% of those working in science and engineering combined, and only 10% of the engineering
workforce. Eurostat figures show that only 29% of Europes scientists and engineers werewomen in 2004.Indian women still do not have the same access to education and literacy but primaryeducation in India is not universal. Overall, the literacy rate for women is 39 percent versus64 percent for men (Womenís Education in India, October 1998). Womenís representation intechnical field is growing. For example, the percentage of women engineers graduating hasgrown from 1.8% in 1972 to 15% in 2005. The below chart shows the women contribution inengineering field.The percentage enrolment of women in engineering colleges and institutions has increasedsubstantially since the period of the aforementioned study. Today in some states, it rangesfrom 25 to 30% . Taking into account the fact that the number of engineering colleges havealso increased radically, the annual out-turn of women engineering graduates has increasedmany times. Compared to the earlier years therefore, the population of women engineers isgrowing at a much faster pace.In 1970 the enrolment of women engineers was 910. This increased to 26, 4370 in 1995. Theshare of women in the engineering enrolments increased from 16% in 1995 to 22% in 2001.In 2001, 22% of the students admitted to B.Tech / B.E. programmes in India were women.The corresponding percentage for M.Tech / M.E. was 16% and PhD was about 17%.
Even though here we show some aspects and statistics about Women Engineers, still the ratiois not 50 percentages. In order to achieve the result various organizations and UNESCOsuggested some points. The main points are as follows,Specific objectives include: 1. Promoting a positive image of women in scientific and technological careers; 2. Sensitizing parents, teachers, educators, school administrative staff, curriculum developers and trainers to counter gender stereotypes with regard to science careers; 3. Improving access of girls to scientific and technological education by providing clear ideas of career opportunities. 4. Providing teachers with the necessary career guidance tools to meet the needs of female learners seeking careers in science and technology.References: 1. Women in Engineering – GENDER, POWER, and WORKPLACE CULTURE by JUDITH S.MCILWEE and J.GREGG ROBINSON 2. Women in Engineering – Pioneers and Trailblazers by Margaret E. Layne 3. IEEE – Women in Engineering Magazine Winter 2007/2008 Volume 1, Number 1 4. The state of Women and Technology Fields around the world, Anita Borg Institute, Caroline Simard 5. Women in the Information and Communication Technology Sector by Tina James, Ronel Smith, Joan Roodt, Natasha Primo, Nina Evans 6. Women in Engineering in Europe - a large scale quantitative and qualitative examination, Alice E. Smith, Berna Dengiz. 7. Girls into Science - A training module – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. 8. Job Status and Career Profile of Women Engineers in India - P. P. Parikh, R. Bindu and S. P. Sukhatme 9. Engineering Education in India – Rangan Banerjee, Vinayak P. Muley