Engineering at the University of Idaho: A Gender Gap

Picture of young woman working on engineering homework that includes finding the force necessary to move two circuits.
Makynzie Zimmer works on her machine component design homework between classes.

By Makayla Sundquist

It is not surprising that the University of Idaho has more men in engineering compared to women, in fact nearly every undergraduate university has more males in their engineering programs compared to females. However, the University of Idaho is slightly above the national average for male dominance in engineering programs; currently, the national average is 81% of all engineering programs are comprised of males; compared to the University of Idaho which has 86%. Even though the number of women in STEM fields are increasing, men still outnumber women quite substantially.

It makes sense really. Children are placed into gender roles from the moment they are born. Take a walk down any toy store and you will see boy’s toys encouraging building and exploring, while girl’s toys encourage communication and imagination. Growing up, little girls learn that they are supposed to be caretakers. Playing dolls and house and using Easy Bake ovens create the sense that women belong in professions that have an emphasis in caretaking. This is why most women choose degrees in the helping professions or education. And I am not saying that being a woman in education is negative. I have many female friends pursuing education and I know that they will best amazing teachers, and change the lives of their students. However, I also know many men who would have been amazing teachers, and many women who would have been successful engineers. I think it is important to open up traditional gender roles and allow those expectations to be more fluid across genders.

Continue reading “Engineering at the University of Idaho: A Gender Gap”

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Sexism in STEM

 

red code for a computer that says end patriarchy.
A sign written in code.

By Kali Nelson

I am learning. I am not an expert in where and how sexism exists. And I am trying to understand one of the fields that I study. While I focus on a gender binary, that does not mean that non-binary and trans men and women do not face discrimination, that means that there may not be information, or that I was unable to find it. Please note that this only covers sexism, women of color do face racism on top of sexism. This is not something that I do not had to experience.

Sexism is a problem that almost every woman has or will face in her life. She can face it at school, at work, and in everyday life. It may not be as prevalent as it was in the past, but it is still there. I was part of a discussion about sexism in STEM fields a week or so ago in which everyone who had a story to tell about sexism, could or if they had a problem, they could share to see if anyone had a solution. This discussion opened my eyes because even though I know it’s real, it doesn’t quite hit me that it really happens. My brain knows but my body doesn’t, does that make sense? Continue reading “Sexism in STEM”

The Everyday Sexism Project

The Everyday Sexism Project was created a year or so ago by Laura Bates, with a simple, but meaningful goal in mind – to create a safe place for women to share their experiences with sexism.

Since its creation, its popularity has exploded. There have been thousands of posts from many different countries. Women around the world are speaking out against the sexism they experience, and it’s making waves.

Women are empowering each other, and (of course) someone, somewhere, has a problem with it. Bates has experienced a ridiculous amount of backlash and hate mail. I considered giving examples, but the messages are so disturbing they don’t deserve to be repeated.

The Everyday Sexism Project wasn’t established as a political statement, nor to bash on certain groups or beliefs. It simply provides a space for people to talk about their encounters with sexism, and find comfort and support in shared experiences.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative, and focus on the hate we see every day. And as I’ve found this year, it’s also easy to become absorbed in the humanity and compassion.  The Everyday Sexism Project is inspiring, and it will continue to empower people around the world.

“Anyone who describes feminism as an in-fighting, back-biting movement has clearly never been as lucky as I was, at those lowest moments, to discover in it the strength and kindness, advice and support of so many other women and men.”

~ Laura Bates, founder, The Everyday Sexism Project