“Girls and women are encouraged to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). But in our efforts to recruit women, we are not talking enough about the subtle and pervasive ways women are excluded from the profession,” Howard notes.
“The numbers don’t lie. Compared to their male counterparts, they experience more burn out, leave the profession at higher rates and move disproportionately to ‘pink-collar’ engineering jobs.”
In her thesis, Howard deconstructs long-held notions about engineering as a “masculine” profession, where men are assumed to be competent, technology is seen as inherently masculine and rationality is valued over emotions.
Howard is sharing her research in a two-part webinar series called “Seeing” the hidden, gendered dynamics of engineering, presented by the Centre for Human Relations and Community Studies at Concordia. In the first webinar on March 8, she will discuss her research, which reveals the systemic discrimination faced by women engineers.
The second webinar, on March 15, is an opportunity for women engineering students and engineers to share and reflect on their own experiences. The goal is to highlight the systemic nature of the gendered dynamics in engineering and to imagine new ways forward.
“I am committed to making the gendered dynamics in engineering visible in order to improve the lives of women engineers and contribute to transforming one of the most male-dominated professions in the world,” Howard explains.
Nadia Bhuiyan, Concordia’s vice-provost of partnerships and experiential learning and a professor of mechanical, industrial and aerospace engineering, says she is very familiar with the challenges many women face in engineering.
“Concordia has worked to provide women who are studying engineering at the Gina Cody School with meaningful support as they prepare for their careers,” she explains.
“One example is through mentorship programs like our Women in Engineering-Career Launch Experience, based at the Institute for Co-operative Education. More work needs to be done to ensure that engineering becomes a profession that is not only appealing but also truly welcoming to women.”
Learn more about the two-part webinar series, “Seeing” the hidden, gendered dynamics of engineering.