women engineer’s‏ : letter to Express 14/7/13

Your Sunday edition’s financial section has a headline “UK hit by shortage of woman engineers”.
There is no explanation of the use of the word “hit”.
Is the implication that women engineer’s are in some way superior?
I’m all in favour of equal opportunity for women but this piece seems to be chiding us for not coercing, or shoe-horning more women into such area’s of work.
Having been a Physics teacher myself, I am well aware that there are girls with an interest in such matters and, at a risk of being dismissed as merely sexist, they are usually more diligent in their studies than boys.
Those girls, who turn to such subjects, tend to achieve above average results.
My impression was that this is not about “only the best feel confident enough to tackle the subject” (the usual claim ) but that those who are interested try harder.
My experience was that most girls found such subjects to be too impersonal; the very reason boys find them attractive.
It is a gender thing.
In fact, the usual run of boy students were attracted because they find the subject easy and didn’t have to work hard (although the few, who did, achieved highest).
Unless the UK is actually short of engineers, it has not been “hit” by the comparatively low proportion of women entering this field.
If we do need more engineers, then the answer, to encouraging more women into the field, is not to make Physics etc. more girlie but to make it more lucrative and better respected.
In those countries where women are more highly represented, you will find that engineers have a higher social status and are better remunerated.
In this country they are still seen as tradesmen, who must use the back door and who must be “managed” by someone with a decent Classics Education.
This will never change, as long as the Public Schools provide the people “trained to govern” and State Schools provide the clever chaps, who know how to fix Thingummibob’s.


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