I was on a Toronto subway this week and saw a woman wearing a button with #ILookLikeAnEngineer (see image right). Having blogged about this topic myself in 2015 and also having featured the blog of a female engineer sharing her thoughts, I was pleased to see this important campaign had jumped over to the mainstream, but also a little surprised it was still around.
Wondering about the status of #ILookLikeAnEngineer, it appears the campaign is still very much alive. Most of the tweets now show smiling female engineers being welcomed as new students or new employees, and the message is positive. The tweets frequently include the STEM (as in science, technology, engineering and mathematics) hashtag too.
In real life, women account “for 20 per cent of total enrolment in accredited undergraduate engineering programs at Canadian post-secondary institutions” (2016 numbers). Also in 2016, the University of Toronto boasted that more than 40 per cent of first-year engineering students were female – the highest proportion of all Ontario universities.
But there are still examples of close-mindedness that remind us why the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign was created in the first place and is still going strong after two years. Case in point:
So what’s the solution? Keep the campaigns alive, keep funding programs like 30 by 30 that promote the representation of women within engineering, consider hiring quotas, and promote capable females. Not only are they just as competent and able to do the work, but they serve as role models for young women considering a career in engineering. Those girls, like my own teen who loves math and science and spent a week this summer at an engineering camp (and loved it!) need to see examples of the glass ceiling being shattered.
And finally, we all need to stop gender stereotyping. According to this video, we make unconscious decisions about kids when they are very young.
— BBC Two (@BBCTwo) August 16, 2017
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