More Women Needed in Civil Engineering

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by Alex A. Kecskes

We need more women in civil engineering. Only 10 percent of working civil engineers are women. They add diversity and a fresh viewpoint to the job. They're also more aware of the social impacts of their design, which is something all good engineers need.

While groups like the Society of Women Engineers have raised awareness of the challenges faced by women engineers in colleges and universities, these groups are not a community. Adding a token woman engineer to a company's employee roster is not the same as adding a community of female engineers to an organization.

Schools and apprenticeship programs should look beyond mathematical skills and consider communication, social welfare, and teamwork skills. In the civil engineering workplace, attitudes must change that prevent women from being accepted.

Some common misconceptions include:
  • Women make poor leaders
  • Women will leave the workplace after pregnancy
  • Women should not take jobs away from men
  • Women do not have enough professional clout
  • Women deserve to be harassed because they are women
Civil engineering firms must do whatever they can to remove these preconceptions from their workplace and hiring practices. Firms might consider creating a part-time employee position that would allow working mothers to balance work and family life. In addition, many firms should aggressively enforce a no-tolerance policy for female discrimination and harassment. Equal pay should also be addressed. Many women with advanced degrees, awards, and top-notch management skills are still at the bottom of the pay scale.

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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