microchicks

“WOMEN JUST AREN’T INTERESTED”

I recently read this blog post where the first comment was ‘Women aren’t very interested in engineering – FACT’. I had to take a few deep breaths and count to ten.

Makes it so convenient doesn’t it? Ah well – women just don’t like it – nothing we can do there. What a shame.

I’m afraid you don’t get out of it that easily! Many other countries have much more equal numbers of women in technology. Many of the computer programmers in Bletchely Park were women. Evidence suggests that there is no biological reason for women to be less interested, and it is easy to see the many social and cultural influences that hinder the development of women’s interest in technology in our society.

Despite all children having a natural curiosity about the world, when so many girls toys focus on fashion/make-up/babies and boys toys focus on building/science/engineering, is it any wonder that girls grow up thinking engineering is not for them?

Girls are constantly steered towards ‘feminine’ jobs, and are made to feel weird if they show an interest in science subjects. There is a misconception as to what engineering is (I equated it to mechanic when I was at school), and jobs in technology are seen as geeky and unsociable – even though they often involve creative thinking, problem solving and team work. The way technology and engineering can be used to have a positive impact on the world is not emphasized enough.

Claiming that ‘women just aren’t interested’ is lazy. It allows people to ignore the real, actionable problems which if addressed, might allow women to discover how fascinating science and technology can really be. Despite the issues, there are still plenty of examples of women who are incredibly passionate about technology and engineering – go to any ‘women in engineering’ event and you will see – it’s just currently they are vastly outnumbered by men. Perhaps, if women were given the chance to discover their interests and made to feel more welcome in the industry, there might be many more.

Even if it were true that women were less interested in engineering, would it be ok to just hand-wave it away? What if women ‘just weren’t interested’ in teaching or healthcare – would we be so willing to leave it at that? I think we would start looking at why they weren’t interested and whether there was anything we could do about it. With the tech industry poised to be one of the most important in modern times, it would be stupid to leave women behind.

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