Who Runs the World? Women Engineers!

Traditionally, engineering is a field in which women are heavily underrepresented. It is undoubtedly a male dominated profession and has been for quite some time now. Studying to become an engineer in college requires hard work and determination for both women and men. However, pursuing a profession in engineering proves more difficult for female students who have to look high and low to find representations of themselves in the field.

Ametra Harris, a senior at the University of Dayton majoring in civil engineering, was kind enough to share her trials and tribulations of being a woman pursuing a career in the engineering field. She also shared a few words of advice for any incoming women college students planning to or thinking of studying to become an engineer.

The Allure of Engineering

I entered college my freshmen year with the intention of becoming a lawyer so I was studying pre-law. But I soon took a step back and began to really evaluate what I want to do in life. I want to help my community and other communities in this world as much as I can. I realized that what I wanted to do really involved engineering, civil engineering to be exact, and I really began to look into it. It kind of hit me like lightening once I really started to read up on what I could do in engineering. I just knew it was what I wanted to pursue. So a few weeks after entering college, I switched to a civil engineering major.

Being a Woman Studying Engineering

It can be very, very difficult. We are highly underrepresented, which is completely unfair considering women are just a capable of being engineers as men are. I’m often the only woman in my classes that center on engineering. There aren’t many female engineering majors on my college campus. When I switched majors and began studying civil engineering, it turns out I was the only African American female civil engineering student at that time on our campus! There are more now but at that time, I was shocked. I have a few female friends who are mechanical engineering majors or chemical engineering. It is hard because I feel as if I have to work a million times as hard as a male engineering major just to be viewed as equally capable.

Why the Underrepresentation

I’m not sure why women are so underrepresented in the field of engineering. There is still a lot of gender bias and stereotypes in the world we live in. While we have made a lot of strides in equal rights for women, the work force is still a field with gender issues. Gender roles are becoming obsolete but they have always stated that manual labor is for men. Of course, that’s just ridiculous. I think that stereotypes and gender bias play a huge role in why there are so few women studying to be engineers in college. But I definitely have hope because the numbers are increasing. I see it every time a new group of freshmen enter my college or other colleges!

What Can Be Done

Shedding light on the lack of women engineers and bringing awareness to the problem is the first step to increasing the number of women in engineering. We should also continue to encourage women to become involved in engineering and uplift their potential. Let them know that women can do any and everything and gender is not a barrier. There are quite a few organizations that promote women engineers and inspire women to follow their dreams of becoming engineers. I know that IEEE Women in Engineering, often referred to as WIE, is one of these organizations that is doing a lot to encourage an increase in the number of women engineers. There is a lot that can be done and it takes all of us working together to get it done.

Advice

Never, ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you are a woman. In fact, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something for any reason! Studying engineering in college as a woman will be difficult. You will probably often be a woman in a classroom with nothing but men and it can be very overwhelming. But don’t let it stop you. You just have to push through and work as hard as you can. The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself. Don’t listen to the judgments of others. Be the best engineer that you can be in order to achieve your goals. Nothing is impossible.

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Ashlyn Porter

Ashlyn Porter

Ashlyn Porter is a senior at the University of Dayton pursuing a degree in communication with a concentration in theater as well as a minor in sociology. A self-declared cinephile, Ashlyn enjoys watching and studying film in hopes of one day being involved in various aspects of the film industry. Her passions also include in writing, reading, baking and performing Shakespeare for her dog.
Ashlyn Porter

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