With only about 11% of the engineering field populated by women, it is difficult to argue that something is happening here. But what?
Wikipedia has a page called “women in engineering” that is downright scanty, and at the time of this writing, the section under the heading “factors contributing to lack of female participation” is blank.
Growing awareness that an issue indeed exists has led to a lot of hand wringing and speculation and studies, as well as several lines of toys designed to foster young girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math, before they are (possibly) socialized to downplay those interests and focus on the more classically feminine ones. Lego has introduced a “lady inventor” playset, Goldie Blocks, designed “to give girls confidence in problem solving,” are a surprise smash hit, and the doll Miss Possible comes with interactive educational games and apps. Barbie, who has been an astronaut for 50 years now, is still patiently waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.
The future of engineering is going to be determined by people like Leabeth Peterson, a senior at Humboldt State University. Peterson is cheerfully leaping into the field well aware of the potential challenges. Open eyed but undaunted, Peterson even has the temerity to be studying for a career in engineering management. Management!
Peterson shares her ideas in what may be keeping the engineering world so very manly, what might help, and what a little biodiversity is going to do for the whole field. No, she’s not claiming to have the answers, but perhaps one woman at a time moving forward with her own interest, education, and career, is itself the answer.
To listen to and/or download Emma’s conversation with Leabeth Peterson click the following link: 9-22-2014 Emma_Leabeth Peterson