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Why do women…

May 27, 2010
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Jennifer Hunt, professor of economics at McGill University, has an article up titled Why do women leave science and engineering? In brief she says:
 
American women leave science and engineering at a higher frequency than men. This column suggests that the gender gap is explained by women’s relative dissatisfaction with pay and promotion opportunities. This gap is correlated with a high share of men in the industry. Remedies should therefore focus on such fields with a high share of male workers.
 
I especially like the great graph at the bottom correlating the share of men to a higher number of women leaving.
 
Aviation Week is surprisingly jumping on this bandwagon as well with an editorial called Missed Opportunities suggesting aerospace companies make a greater effort to recruit women. I like that he doesn't make any trite generalizations about women (unlike one of the commenters who to paraphrase basically says the industry is so bad that women are just smarter than men and get out of it). The author, Tony Velocci, talks about that great labor shortage we've been discussion for ten years. That all the whitehairs are going to retire and we'll have a shortage of engineers (and other professions). That I'm not going to believe until I see it. And while I'm really impressed with such a pro-industry magaze like Aviation Weekly taking on this task I'm rather disappointed the obvious cause isn't even pointed out. While he decries the "good old boys" networks slowing women down he fails to realize most companies are not interested in recruiting more women. They're not even trying. I'd think with the slightest bit of effort, like sending a rep to SWE events or making an effort to have one out of every five interns be female there'd be a huge increase in them seeing qualified candidates come across the desk. I suspect that when/if the labor shortage finally happens, it will all be too little too late. And plenty of other people are recommending we increase our HB1 visas to accomodate that so I think the advice to recruit more women will fall on deaf ears here at least for now. But thanks Velocci, it was a well intentioned piece with good advice. Problem is no one's listening.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 4, 2010 5:50 am

    Maybe I'm just a statistical moron, but why do these studies alway assume a linear relationship and tries to curve fit with a straight line? Conclusions are drawn and recommendations are made based on this straight line.Is the relationship that straightforward and black and white?If I just eye ball Hunt's study and included only data from engineering, curve fitting a straight line will most likely have that line pointing downwards. This would mean if you want women to stay in engineering, just hire more men!

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