Women Engineers Are Jerk-Averse

(cc photo by meneldur)

Anna North notes new research on why women leave the science and engineering fields, which often comes down to women not enjoying being mistreated by jerks:

In Stemming The Tide: Why Women Leave Engineering, two University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professors report on their survey of over 3,700 women with engineering degrees. They found that just one in four women who had left the field reported doing so to spend more time with family. One third left “because they did not like the workplace climate, their boss or the culture,” while almost half departed due to “working conditions, too much travel, lack of advancement or low salary” (respondents were allowed to check more than one reason). The researchers also found that among women who got engineering degrees but never entered the field, a third made that decision “because of their perceptions of engineering as being inflexible or the engineering workplace culture as being non-supportive of women.” And, unsurprisingly, “Women engineers who were treated in a condescending, patronizing manner, and were belittled and undermined by their supervisors and co-workers were most likely to want to leave their organizations.” Writes study author Dr. Nadya Fouad, “Bottom line — it’s not all about family for most of the women who left engineering.

Not that shocking, but important nonetheless. Dysfunctional social norms that drive talent out of key fields are a real burden on the country, as well as on the individual women impacted.