Why Are Most Engineers Male?

Are there any female engineers out there?

Is Engineering a male dominated field? Or not?

If you look around a typical engineering office, you are going to find males over-represented in this environment. Were you to also think of any engineers you know, I am willing to bet that all of them are going to be male. This situation has had people pondering over the years, and many theories have been put forward to argue why so men dominate engineering fields. Read on while I investigate a couple of the theories as to why this is the case. Feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments section at the bottom of the page and together we can possibly get to the bottom of this conundrum.

Argument 1) Most engineers are male due to biology.

This is probably the most common argument. If you were to pose the question “why are so many engineers male and not female?” to the man in the street you would probably get answers such as. “Men like to build things, so they are more drawn toward engineering”, or “men are just more drawn toward calculations and physical tasks, whereas women are more emotionally centred and will favour communicative roles for their careers”. Why are people arguing this way?

I do believe that as we grow up, boys are more likely to be given toys and pushed into activities that reinforce their involvement in physical, spatial tasks. Things such as building a cubby house, or playing with remote control cars and activities like this can build an early leaning toward engineering type behaviours.

I have heard that although female engineers are rarer that male, those that actually choose to take up the profession can equip themselves very well indeed. Some information I have heard from engineers themselves indicates that female engineers are more than capable of carrying out the duties required of them. Often they are claimed to be of the highest standard in the company. This is a real encouragement for those women out there who are thinking of studying and then going into the industry. They may be in high demand and could land some good roles.

Biologically however, there are so many personality differences between individuals that it is an impossible argument to even consider. Or is it? I am not a psychologist but I do tend to think that there is a female and male brain of sorts. Men like sports and gambling more than women. Women generally like to cook and gossip. I think we all have to agree that the sexes have different tastes.

Argument 2) Most engineers are male due to expectation.

This is something that is self fulfilling to a degree. If a women is thinking about going to study engineering, she may come up against some discouraging comments that may cause her to abandon that plan. On the first day of university, with more men than women in the class, women may face a higher dropout rate in the years that follow.  In the workforce the same could be true as women are outnumbered here too.

I think both of these factors would definitely have an impact of the smaller numbers of female engineers we see out there in society. It will be interesting to see if these numbers will even out in the years to come. My guess is – not anytime soon.