Here we go again, but this time with a twist
You know the drill, an older, white, male, engineering professor, who has daughters (and in this case granddaughters and great granddaughters), based on personal experience, "knows" that young or old, females and males are most certainly different. In this case, based on "anecdotal" observation, he decides that more creativity and less emphasis on tools, like Chemistry and Physics, is what we need to get more women in engineering.
We've all heard/read many variations of this over the years so you ask, why am I writing about it now? The answers is because FairerScience friend Jen Thurber has written an awesome response and given me permission to share it with you.
"I am extremely disappointed in the level of condescension in this article. Every female engineer can contemplate without being “good” at math, physics, or chemistry: 'What will the diaper look like 10 years from now?' Are you kidding?
As one of the "females" in the engineering field, technical ability is not the primary reason women leave. It's constant comments like this that say we are different, less capable, less interested in participating. It's not only the college environment- it's the workplace especially. How many times have I been passed over for field work because it's assumed I don't want to "get dirty" (read: experience), spoken to differently (read: inclusion), and been told that I am somehow more special than other women for embarking on, and staying in, an industry that interested me, despite these managerial offenses.
Creativity is always a welcome commodity in any engineering field, but curiosity is better. In either case, don't ever pretend that science can be replaced, and don't weaken the field by allowing graduates who do not excel in these areas. Would you employ a firefighter even if she couldn't carry the equipment? Of course not. But you would if she was able to carry you out of that burning building. The question is, would she stay if she was treated as "other"? The answer to women remaining in engineering as much about engaging them early in their schooling as it is about treating them fairly and equally in the workplace. Success means asking them and requiring them to participate, showing students what is possible and employees what is required. It means listening to their ideas with the same level of intention as their male counterparts. It means not fearing that they'll take their anager to HR if they interact more than once a week.
One very nice aspect of math and science is that equations and equipment don't care what gender or culture you are. One unfortunate aspect of people is that some of them care very much, and write articles like this. So don't pretend women don't continue in engineering because they can't. Do not confuse can't and won't. "
Thank you Jen. I hope everyone reads this and hears what you are saying.