The article reports 40 percent of women engineering graduates either end up leaving the profession or never enter in the first place. Nadya Fouad, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee conducted a three-years study involving 5,300 women participants to determine the cause of high turnover rate among women engineers. She found out that the most important factor behind high turnover rate among women engineers is the work environment that is often hostile to women. Fouad reported that 20 percent of all engineering graduates over the last two decades have been women yet only 11 percent of practicing engineers are women. The complaints mentioned by the women participants in the study included male-dominated culture, lack of advancement opportunities, and inflexible work hours. Fouad dismissed the notion that some of the major culprits are pregnancies and lack of confidence. She believes the companies have to acknowledge the problem before they can address it. There are some who don’t agree with Fouad’s findings including Elizabeth Bierman, President of the Society of Women Engineers as well as an aerospace engineer for 20 years. Bierman argues the study by her organization did not find the environment to be a major factor. Instead she advocates for better work-life balance for men and women, as well as encouraging more women to enter the engineering profession.
The author of the article has employed several types of arguments. First of all, there is use of ethos. There are two people in the article who have professional credibility to talk about the issue of women engineers and they are psychologist Nadya Fouad and aerospace engineer Elizabeth Bierman. Nadya Fouad is both a psychologist and a researcher at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee who reached her conclusions on the basis of a three-years study involving 5,300 women participants. Similarly, Elizabeth Bierman is a women engineer and a professional with 20 years experience. The author also makes use of logos to demonstrate the fact that women engineers do exit the profession at a high rate. For example, Fouad cites the fact that 20 percent of engineering students over the past two decades have been women yet only 11 percent of practicing engineers are women. She also proved through her study that many women are not in the engineering profession as only 62 percent of the respondents were currently working as an engineer.
Fouad and Bierman have taken different positions as to why there are so few women with engineering academic background are in the engineering profession. I am tempted to take Fouad’s side because she is a psychologist by profession and she drew her conclusions on the basis of three-years long study that involved 5,300 women. On the other hand, Bierman may be an engineer but she does not cite any stats to back up her claims as opposed to Fouad. Bierman also appears to be relying on anecdotal evidence. Bierman’s experiences and observations may or may not be similar to the majority of women engineers who have either left the profession or never entered the field in the first place. Bierman also seems to suggest that lack of work-life balance is not unique to women but also faced by men. While this may be true to some extent, the burden of raising families continues to fall on the women in most cases. Fouad also has an advantage due to the fact that she has identified several factors behind low representation of women in the engineering field, as well as the extent to which these individual factors affect women.