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"Let's Woo the Woman Engineer"
July 1963 Electronics World

July 1963 Electronics World

July 1963 Electronics World Cover - RF Cafe  Table of Contents 

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Electronics World, published May 1959 - December 1971. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

If you were to think the effort to encourage women to join the ranks of engineers is a recent thing, you'd be wrong. Contrary to what news media rabble-rousers want you to believe, women have long been welcome in the engineering world. Some, admittedly, were as welcomed by men into engineering as men were by women into nursing, but those who persisted usually excelled. As hard as it is for social engineers to accept, evidently most women, at least at this point in history, would rather pursue career fields other than engineering. I have posted stories like this one from a 1963 edition of Electronics World that beseech girls and women to pursue all the fields of science - not just engineering. See Making Wartime Engineers and the National Union Radio Corporation ad in a 1945 Radio Craft, YL News and Views in a 1953 QST, A "WAVE" in Naval Electronics in a 1957 Popular Electronics, An Avocation Becomes a Vocation in a 1943 QST, A Key to Radio as a Vocation in a 1936 Radio Craft. There are others. Whatever you do, though, don't read Do You Understand Women?.

"Let's Woo the Woman Engineer"

"Let's Woo the Woman Engineer", July 1963 Electronics World - RF CafeFor the Record

Wm. A. Stocklin, Editor

Personnel experts from industry and various Government agencies have continually stressed our need for at least 80,000 engineering graduates a year if we are to meet the requirements of our space-age "industrial revolution." As against this need we are, in actual fact, graduating less than 40,000 engineers a year. If the shortage of engineers is as critical as the President's Science Advisory Committee says it is, then both educational institutions and industry are faced with a gigantic task of convincing prospective students of the benefits and satisfactions to be derived from a career in engineering.

Today the average annual salary for electronics engineers is approximately $7500 - a rather unimpressive figure considering the educational investment an engineering degree represents. Although the going rate of $5200 for electronics engineering graduates embarking on their first jobs is above that for many other professions, this lure has apparently failed to attract potential students. In the minds of most would-be engineers their profession has lost status during the past few years. Where, say, ten years ago it was considered to be the No. 2 career, directly behind the legal profession, today it is running a poor third, with the medical profession moving into the top spot.

Recent interviews with high-school graduates planning their college careers indicate all too clearly that they are fully aware of these facts and that their opinions of the engineering profession are far from flattering. One remark heard time and again was: "We don't like the idea of getting cornered behind a slide-rule." It is obvious that these students visualize some future for themselves more satisfying and grander than that of being an engineer. Although educators and vocational counselors have attempted to combat this attitude by presenting facts about the challenges involved and the country's need for engineers, they must have more ammunition if they are to channel more students into engineering courses. They shouldn't have to tackle the job alone. Industry itself must do more than it has been doing in the past.

An interesting sidelight on this problem was touched on recently by Herbert W. Hartley, president of Northrop Institute of Technology, in the course of a series of talks to students in Southern California. Speaking on the subject, "Let's Woo the Woman Engineer," Mr. Hartley suggested that if industry cannot meet its quota of electronics engineers from among the male student body, women should be encouraged to enter the profession. Many women work as electronics draftsmen, and there is no reason why a mathematics - or science-oriented woman can't handle an engineering curriculum.

C. T. Reid, director of graduate placement for Northrup, surveyed more than 200 aerospace and electronics firms on their attitudes toward hiring women engineers. Without exception they replied that not only were they willing but eager to accept trained women for employment in various engineering categories.

"We find that women make excellent designers," reported North American Aviation's Space & Information Systems Division. "They have done well for us in aerodynamics, stress analysis, and weight analysis."

Hughes Aircraft employs 80 women engineers. IBM has discovered that women perform better than men as computer engineers and programmers. Women have also demonstrated their competence in every other phase of computer engineering they've tackled.

One of the five design engineers on the "Tiros" weather satellite project was Mrs. Sima Miluschewa of RCA's Astro-Electronics Division. One of the most attractive and capable women you'll meet anywhere is Mrs. Marily Peck, an engineer with North American Aviation. Jack Leadbetter, president of Associated Aero Science Laboratories, goes so far as to say "the average woman going in for engineering is better than the average man." Perhaps she has to be in order to compete successfully in a profession that is predominantly male.

The Society of Women Engineers reports that out of 800,000 engineers in the United States today, only 5000 are women. It is the consensus, however, that this situation will change drastically before the start of the next decade. Whether or not women will enter the engineering profession in large numbers, as has been the case in many other countries, is problematical as the path to an engineering degree is still a thorny one for most women. In addition to some altering of physical facilities at what are now predominantly male engineering strongholds, it will be necessary for educators and industry alike to change the average woman's conception of engineering as a purely masculine career and that to follow such a profession is "unladylike." This will take time - but once started - it is a trend that could gather momentum - depending on how carefully the initial steps are planned



Posted February 6, 2017

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