Should engineering students be stereotyped based on their gender?
That’s exactly what’s occurring at Australia’s University of Technology Sydney (UTS), which recently announced it will allow female students to enter its engineering courses with lower scores than males starting next year.
In what’s being called an “effort to boost the number of women in the field,” the university stated it will give 10 Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) adjustment points to female students applying for engineering and construction degrees next year.
Dr. Arti Agarwal, director of women in engineering and IT, UTS, said she believed the school’s policy will provide a better gender balance and lead to improved student outcomes and better buildings and design in the wider world.
Huh? Better balance, better buildings, and better design?! No. This patronizing decision manifests the ridiculous notion that females are less intelligent than men. If you think the best way to get more women into engineering is to lower (only) their standards, aren’t you implying female engineers aren’t as good, smart, or capable as male engineers?
Hand ups, not hand outs
Instead of subsidizing education during the collegiate years, why not create an educational environment that fosters an interest in STEM learning throughout grade school and beyond?
Such is the thought process of Dr. Stephanie Taylor, M Architecture, CIC, FRSPH(UK), MCABE, who writes Engineered Systems’ IAQ column.
“From their early years in school, girls are not adequately supported in high-level mathematics and science courses,” she said. “Furthermore, girls generally are not encouraged to take apart electrical, mechanical, or automotive devices, so they do not develop their interest and confidence in understanding how intricate devices work.”
Rebecca Ellis, president, Questions & Solutions Engineering Inc., who pens Engineered Systems’ Commissioning column, is a P.E. in 16 states. She insists educators and parents must reward interest in STEM courses rather than discourage it.
“I think part of the problem continues to lie in society’s definition of feminine; i.e., being math- and science-smart is more of a detriment to overcome than a benefit to celebrate,” she said. “In addition, I think a good chunk of the issue is that there is a relatively small pool of successful role models. We are slowly growing that pool as more and more women join and stay in the engineering world. Finally, I believe the educational system has a role to play, and, in general, I have seen great strides in STEM opportunities for all, including girls. The key is to make early and fun STEM experiences stick and survive the vagaries of adolescence.”
20 To Watch: women in HVAC
Engineered Systems magazine continues to celebrate the women of engineering through its 20 to Watch: Women in HVAC contest, which was designed to showcase the amazing work of women throughout the industry. The inaugural class of winners, which included Taylor and Ellis, was announced in the January 2019 issue, and this year’s winners will be featured in the February 2020 issue. Nominations for the 2020 class are open through Nov. 15. Let’s elevate the achievements of the working woman rather than stifle them through academic policies that define their efforts as “not good enough.”
Women choose to enter engineering based on their interest, intelligence, and capabilities, not to meet some imaginary quota. Shouldn’t we encourage success based on individual merits rather than artificially boosted test scores, regardless of gender?
Register for our free webinars at http://webinars.esmagazine.com, where users can also view any webinar from the last year on demand in our archive. Here is a look at what’s up next on our webinar calendar.
Ensuring Total Power Backup System Availability – Maintenance and Testing
Presented by Julius Neudorfer, chief technology officer for North American Access Technologies Inc., and sponsored by Kohler.
Which Comes First: Comfort vs. Efficiency?
Presented by Robert Bean, president of Indoor Climate Consulting Inc., and sponsored by Uponor.
2019 Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA) Annual Meeting
Educating Professionals in Contracting (EPIC) 2019
American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) Tech Symposium