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What is the biggest cause of women not entering engineering?

Comment from Sarita Hernesniemi, Research and Product Development Manager at Luvata:

The share of women students in Finnish technical universities is about 22%. It has come up a little bit during the past 20 years, but it could be much higher. At the same time, the majority of students in many other universities are women.

An engineering education was not my number one choice as a teenager. I didn’t have a clue what variety of things engineering includes. The typical combination of math, physics and chemistry doesn’t necessarily make things so interesting. Metallurgy, biotechnology or water technology on the other hand, would be much more fascinating beginning points than the laws of physics.

The amount of detail in everyday things, such as cars, mobile phones or your sports gear amazes me. To understand that there is an international, highly skilled and experienced team of engineers behind all of these things, makes me respect them even more. New product development, production technology, all of the intelligent parts of an automatized production lines and quality measuring devices to ensure safety for everyone, require huge amounts of engineering. But what does this have to do with your math class?

I don’t think women’s natural tendency to take care of people explains their lack of interest in engineering jobs. Concern for future generations and the environment can be good motivation for becoming an engineer. One of the ways a woman can impact the environment is by working in an industry, for example in renewable energy production.

High tech should be brought into schools as early as possible, and targeted to both boys and girls. Its significance to our everyday life is much greater than a math class or physics experiment might suggest. I hope that school books today present a better image of industry than the ones I had. I think girls would certainly be more fascinated if they had more correct and up-to-date information.

The two main factors that received the most support in the poll are absolutely right. There is a lack of information about the industry and about real life engineering. My motivation started growing as I got to know materials science and metals at the university. The significance of materials engineering in energy savings, healthcare, pollution control, healthy homes and a safe environment keeps surprising me. Having a job developing new products from metal, I still learn something new every day.  At the end of the day though, I do realize that the laws of physics and chemistry are still needed.



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