I am a female student in a male-dominated degree, and I personally have not felt suppressed or intimidated by any male since my arrival here. Yet, society bombards me with a harsh ‘fact’ of life. That because of my gender, my climb up the career ladder will be a challenging one. However, this is just one long-winded fuss, right?

Life within the ECS Department has its perks. Free printer credits, dual computer screens, and even the privilege of ordering pizza to the computer rooms. Yes, we are living the high life. It has many selling points, sure, but one cannot shy away from the intense waft of testosterone.

Minorities and majorities, this should not be a competition between the sexes,

I am one of the nine female students in my Electronic/Electrical/Electromechanical first year. Whilst I work and look around to see a crowd of over one-hundred and twenty guys I do think to myself “This is the rest of my life”. Or is it? I do love it here. I have made great friendships in my course, and being a female in ECS comes with benefits – I rarely open doors for myself anymore…  However, when I graduate and the University bubble bursts, where does that leave me? Will my career unravel quickly or barely blossom?

Whilst touring around University Departments, to be the only female in the group soon became an accepted fact. Other males and females external to my degree path can surely share my predicament. Do not get me wrong, working with the opposite sex is not a problem. The issue is when coursemates are unaware of the common etiquette that is expected with this situation. A woman will tolerate a group of men sharing their stories of “Friday night’s shenanigans”. Whilst having a group of females gushing about their love-lives can potentially make a grown-man squirm…

Having a group of females gushing about their love-lives can potentially make a grown-man squirm…  

Where is the equality with that? Although trivial, to express oneself openly accounts for being comfortable at the workplace.

 Easy question for you: when do men feel comfortable around women? Under the influence of alcohol? Heck yes. When they want to, dare I say, woo a special someone?  …Give or take. Working purely professionally? You would not believe my amusement at guys responses when I mention ECSWomen events, a female-led student group within my department. I see the fear in their eyes. The thought of being outnumbered by females have them shaking in their boots. Hilarious, considering that I do not quiver at the thought of be surrounded by over 100 males in a lecture hall every day.

 ‘Old Boys Club’ still exists in Politics, Business, and Finance but this cannot be said for an industry like Computer Science. The Computer Science industry is too young to have developed this inner circle where there are ‘No Girls Allowed”.

Studies show that the optimum performance of a team is with a 50:50 balance of male and female participants.

Bluntly put, if you want your company to get peak output would it kill you to have a great spread of females throughout your firm? However, it is not that simple.

The idea of female’s inadequacy in any male-dominated field had been dragged through the mud and I am bored of it.

I think that Gender Imbalance in the workplace is not an issue that needs a little violin soundtrack to sooth the minority.

Though, what is interesting is the lack of questioning of a male’s inadequacy in a female-dominated field. Take the fashion industry for example, an industry where men are the accessory to the female outfit. An industry known for its spirited, career driven business women. However, are their office politics here? Is there an ‘Old Girls’ Club to make it up this career ladder? No.

I like to believe that I got admitted onto my degree course because of academic merit alone. However, I will not be naïve to the fact that my gender increased my chances. My explanation as to why gender minorities exist in the workplace is pretty simple.  

From a young age, it has been ingrained into us that gender spheres separate male and female roles in society.

Young boys were allowed to get dirty, young girls were told to keep clean. Therefore, of course a gender will be a minority in a profession if society has subconsciously shaped our beliefs to say we do not belong there. Additionally, many professions are passed through family generations. Do not be surprised if the student sitting beside you in the lecture is a following in their elder’s footsteps. Upon reflection, it explains the air of respect for the female students within ECS. We have broken through this social norm and demonstrated that we acquire the skills to be successful in this industry.  In today’s more lenient society, females and males are free to venture into any interest that appeal to them, so by theory gender equality at work should improve in the near future. Whilst seeking some wisdom on the matter, I spoke to a second year ECS student about her work placement at a top electronic technology company.

To be ‘gender-blind’ in a professional environment reminds us that gender balance is not everything.

She expressed the importance of being gender-blind and how everyone treated each other as they all were – engineers. However, there was one problem that she faced from the males on a daily basis. Having to be continuously responded with embarrassed and confused faces: the location of the ladies toilets are not of common knowledge to the male workers… With my degree I will be perfectly prepped for my high-flying career. Being in the minority now does not put you in submission; it credits your integrity and strengthens your drive. I will be just fine sitting at my head desk and enjoying my work that makes the world savvier of Artificial Intelligence and Electronics. Ambition, know-how, and inspiration are all I need.

57 Comments »

Leave your response!

  • Anon
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    I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that ECS women “scares” men. I think it appalls us a lot more. The idea that there are opportunities available only to women completely ruins your integrity when campaigning for “gender blindess”.

    Reply

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Thanks for your comment! Personally, I do think there is a misconception about what ECSWomen stands for. It is not an exclusive club that proclaims the fact that women need support to survive in a ‘Man’s World’. Alternatively, it is not a place where we celebrate female achievement in our industry whilst we sneer at our male colleagues.
    For me, it is a way for me to get to know other females within ECS, which is not as easy as it appears!
    “Appalls”? Quite a strong word perhaps?

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    Anon
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    There are “female-only” events. Saying it’s not an exclusive club is wrong when parts of it are exclusive – very similar to what you refer to as some career developments being like an “old boys’ club”. There’s no ECSMen or ECS-race-specific groups and such groups would be met with outrage, what’s different with ECSWomen?

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Do you feel you need an ECSMen group?

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Assuming you are a male ECS student of course!

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    Anon
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    ECSWomen fights gender inequality by excluding men from some things (but not all). Surely that’s flawed. It’s not about need, it’s about a completely wrong solution.

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    Emma
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    It’s about having a place for a disenfranchised group within a culture (this culture being ECS) to congregate and talk. When there are 9 out of 120 women in a course, they deserve to behighlighted and given a space to talk about the situation they’re in. There is always emphasis on the minority group, hence the reason we celebrate Black History month and not White.

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Anon, “fights” has such aggressive and negative connotations. Fighting gender inequality by excluding a gender seems like defeating the objective of the cause haha To which I assume is your whole point :) Nonetheless, I appreciate what you have to say. Many people on my course have expressed similar things to you. But what do you think about what Emma has said? Surely you cannot disagree with a society that provides a source of comfort and congregation.

    Miłosz Gaczkowski
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    Funny, I was thinking of setting that up the other day – primarily to serve as a group to actively oppose blatantly sexist female-only internships and graduate jobs.

    Granted, I would be just as opposed to male-only offers of the same kind, but I have yet to see any.

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    We need a new way of thinking to allow Gender Balance in the workplace to happen. Of course men will feel separate and females patrionised if there is a separate way to evaluate or celebrate women in their industry. The same applies for if females are the majority and men the minority. The point of this article, is saying that it does not matter if this is the case now. What is most important is what you can contribute to your field through your experience and skill set.

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    Emily Barnes
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    Men are completely welcome at ECSWomen events…I once went to a CV help session, and a guy turned up and admitted he was ‘only there for the free food’. No one had any issues, and he was fully welcomed to the group.
    I think that any friction between ECSWomen and people in ECS is due to misunderstanding – ECSWomen is just an opportunity for people to make new friends. You wouldn’t object to a group of mainly girls that met up once a week to have a chat and maybe went to a few educational talks together, but suddenly because it has a label it seems like more of a ‘clique’, but it’s not, I promise you. Maybe come to one of our meetings sometime and really get to know us :)

    P.S. The first comment uses the phrase “opportunities available only to women”, which is untrue as everyone is welcome to ECSWomen. As I said, I think misunderstanding breeds dislike.

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    Name
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    When’s the next ECSWomen event? I genuinely would like to attend, if not for anything at least the free food!! =D But mainly cause I want to see what it’s like

    Anon of ECS
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    I beg to differ with your quote everyone is welcome. Here is a quote from an email advertising an ECSWomen event.

    “There will be a meeting this Wednesday, 7 March, for all women in ECS who would like to be involved in helping to set the agenda. “

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Hello ‘Name’ :) Looking at the ECSWomen page their next event is on Monday the 11th of March.
    http://ecswomen.ecs.soton.ac.uk/calendar

    Here are some details -
    “Placements: Internships and Year Placements
    ‘Year in Industry’ will be giving a 30 min presentation about year-long placements in UK, followed by a snack break. Then Diana Fitch will be giving information about summer internships and internships abroad..

    Refreshments and snacks will be provided..

    This event is open to everyone.”

    Reply

    Emily
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    Positive discrimination is necessary in some areas of employment.

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    I am intrigued with your point :) Could you elaborate with your expression ‘positive discrimination’?

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Could you explain where it is necessary?

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    Tom
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    And why? I’m intrigued to know why you think that females are inferior and require positive discrimination to succeed? I certainly don’t

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Exactly Tom, who even believes this is the case anymore? There comes a time when you need to look at things objectively and decide what you truly believe is true and what society expects you to believe is true. I do not think that Emily was suggesting that females were inferior. In fact, Emily could have been referencing to males having positive discrimination. Though, the term ‘positive discrimination’ alone does has to be really evaluated…

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  • The ECS-it
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    “Because of my gender, my climb up the career ladder will be a challenging one.”
    Alternatively, one may argue that it will be made easier because of the “positive discrimination”. I, for example, have been invited to (at least a) final stage interview for every single job I have applied for in Technology. Being female definitely helps. And I hate it. I feel horrible when I am a subject of that positive discrimination, which was shoved in our faces by people who think that every course should be a 50/50.
    No. The opportunity should be a 50/50. Who makes the most out of that or who shows better skill is entirely a different story.

    When talking about you telling your colleagues about ECSwomen, you say:
    ” I see the fear in their eyes. The thought of being outnumbered by females have them shaking in their boots. ”
    I think, similarly as Anon above, that you are being really unfair. This is your own assessment and I think it is completely unjustified.

    I am the only girl on my course, and all of my male ECS peers have never treated me differently because of it. When they look at me, they are not seeing “a woman”, they are seeing a scientist or an engineer, their peer, colleague. As they should.

    I think you have made some remarks that are really out of order, and for that, the ECSmen deserve an apology.

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Hello ‘The ECS-it’, I concur with your opinion about coursemates treated you as the a scientist or an engineer, their peer, colleague that you are. I even celebrated that notion towards the end of my article.

    This is an opinion piece, my opinion, and therefore it was not my intention nor motivation to generalise this experience of my time as a female in a male-dominated industry.

    For sharing my opinion, I do not need to give an apology. I can ruminate about what comments are made – thank you for yours by the way – because it can broaden my perspective on the matter.

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    Trishia
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    As the main point of ECSWomen is supporting females in technology, I cannot agree with Anon. As ECSWomen co-chair, we have chosen to make some events exclusive. Some of them were psychological sessions, in which girls were able to talk about themselves, their fears, goals, motivations. It was suggested by our visiting specialist that this session should be closed for males, as it is scientifically proven that females open more around people from the same sex. Moreover, there was a lot of talk about the old committee and how they were making ECSWomen open for males (mostly their friends) and making it “free pizza” society, where new members were not welcomed properly, they could not find their place within the society. So our first event was females-only, where all of us (about 30 or more women) introduced ourselves. Our other events, which are beneficial for both males and females are always open to both gender, in most of them we can see guys coming to interact with us. Please, before judging ECSWomen, come and see first. It’s our hard work to at least try to make females more connected and stronger together. And if someone, like ECS-it does not need it, fair enough. A lot of people recognise the issue of the lack of females in ECS; the department is putting a lot of time and effort (and money) into attracting more females, and into outreach programs; there are a few female staff who are very supportive about the initiative and take part in our events.

    Tl;dr : if you are female in ECS and you don’t need/want to meet more women from ECS, fair enough. But before making your final decision, come to the event, try. As long as at least one member of ECSWomen gains something (extra skills, more confidence, new friends) ECSWomen will exist and continue it’s mission.

    Reply

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Thanks a lot Trisha! I am glad that we are getting someone from your perspective in this discussion!

    Reply

    Fred
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    “So our first event was females-only, where all of us (about 30 or more women) introduced ourselves.”

    ” as it is scientifically proven that females open more around people from the same sex”

    So sexism is ok if it’s only the first meeting?

    And it’s ok if it’s in the best interest of girls?

    Reply

    Trishia
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    It is a girls society, run for girls by girls.

    Imagine you have any society, you can have events for “members only”. On our first event we were aiming at females, as they are our main interest. As you were not there it is funny how you are trying to judge us. If we (females) feel like we want to have a place just for us, and we (students) are organising everything ourselves, who has the right to say we can’t? We are not under SUSU, we can as well organise an event just for our friends. If you are not invited to a party, are you as well running and crying about it everywhere? Everything depends on your approach, if you are genuinely interested in technology issues, and we are having a talk about it, you are welcome to come. If we are talking about lack of females as role models in technology, and you have something to say about it, you are even more than welcome to come. But if your main goal is free food, then sorry, this party is not for you (and it was the case with the old committee). At this point, together with Theano, we are having a lot of events, where both males and females are having fun together (like movie nights etc).

    My main point: yes, if it’s for the benefit of females, we will close our events for females only, as it is our right (we are not under SUSU, we are not getting any funding from them, our sponsor companies know about it, we have approval from ECS) so I really don’t see a point of this discussion.

    Reply

    Anon of ECS
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    I did used to attend events (within the first few years of its existence) and no not for free food but to see what the issues were and what I could do as a male to support women in the department if they felt they needed it.

    Here’s a definition of sexism “Discrimination based on gender” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexism) if excluding people from events isn’t sexism then I don’t know what is, and surely sexism in the work place is exactly what you are trying to prevent, a bit hypocritical don’t you think.

    Anon of ECS
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    I think you need stop giving mixed messages. From your comment above

    “we will close our events for females only,”

    and from your website (http://ecswomen.ecs.soton.ac.uk/about)

    “Events are open to all: whether you’re male, female, undergraduate or postgraduate, come along and see what we do.”

    It’s little wonder if people outside of your society don’t know what’s going on if you can’t give a clear message.

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Of course, some parts of the article should be taken with a touch of wit and humour :) I am glad that there is a discussion on this. I am not sure if this topic has been voiced before, well within ECS anyway.

    Reply

  • ecsman
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    ECS is probably the most divided school here in Southampton. I feel marginalised as a white British male who isn’t a complete loser. Case in point:on my course now of around 50, there are 6 british students. There should be ECSbrits as well as ECSwomen

    Reply

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Woah there. Now that is venturing into a completely different take on the matter! Why do you think an ECSBrits would benefit you or anyone else in ECS who is not an international student?

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    student
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    If brits feel in a minority on a degree course how is it different to women feeling in a minority on a degree course?

    Reply

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    I can understand where you are coming from, but that is looking at culture and heritage, and not gender. Could you imagine working for a company abroad and setting up a group just for the British? The controversy in that would be alarming!

    I think this might be due to the history of the British, for them being once a colonial empire. Thus to have a British group would be a reminder for some of that time, it would conjure up all the darkness related to colonialism.

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  • Dave
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    People tend to group socially. Watch most social groups. Some are formed in more obvious ways than others. If people speak Chinese natively, chances are, they’re going to hang out with each other before their English native friends. It may not seem as obvious, but there are social reasons we’re drawn to other people when we identify common features. Most people will remember it from school if they were in a majority white school. The few black students will normally have their own group. It just happens.

    So what happens when we find ourselves with a subject that’s mostly male dominated? We have a few women who can’t resist. So what helps women who feel socially out of place? They need to feel comfortable, just as we’d seek to make all the other students. There’s nothing *bad* about picking out something as simple as gender, it’s down to the individual how they feel about themselves. In your class back in high school, you may’ve known the Asian guy who just didn’t care. He’d hang out with the white guys. That’s cool with him, them, and everyone. But some of us operate at face value, and that has to be accepted.

    So as long as we have groups like ECS Women around, it’ll be easier for the newbies and the others to sign up and keep involved in a community sense to strengthen the amount of women in Engineering.

    And that’s important. Because Engineering is awesome and the more women, the more men, the better.

    Reply

    Trishia
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    I could not agree with you more, Dave.

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    do
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    Dave, if you I knew you I’d be giving you a high-five right now. Thanks for explaining it so nicely! :D

    This article or the purpose of ECSWomen is not about discriminating or ‘dividing’ students.

    Two of my best friends are guys and the people in my friend circle are all from different countries and have different skin colours. Are they mostly guys? Yes. Any of this bother me? No; but as one of my female peers say ‘It’s nice to be around majority of girls sometimes’.

    We have an event next Monday, and have a networking break around 7pm, I invite The ECS-it, Fred, Anon and ecsman (have I missed anyone?) all there just to see atmosphere and how society is run :)

    Reply

    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Thank you Dave, you have touched upon a very important aspect of this discussion. What about when males are in the minority and females in the majority? Would you say that it gives a right for an ECSMen equivalent to be set up? It is an interesting thought I think.

    Reply

    Dave
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    Everyone has the right to set up a group. It just seems a little counter-intuitive and ‘because we can’ exercising of rights. People tend to act this way when they feel certain attention is given to others who are in the minority. We have an African society at the University. If they set up African only events, I doubt we’d see any sort of uproar we’d see about a women’s group. Over the years it’s become a sort of social stigma that the genders bicker and fight over far too much.

    So of course it’s always within right of being set up. I just think it’d prove nothing more than a cynical jab at women having free pizza.

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  • student
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    I really hate it when ECS students feel like they’re part of some special “club” and superior to the rest of the university… most of the “perks” ECS students think they’re special for receiving are more common than they think…

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Well I am an ECS Student and I certainly do no feel like I am ‘part of some special club’ in which I assume you feel hostile towards. When I meant ‘perks’, I was touching upon some of the highlights that were pointed about to me doing my Open Day at the department haha

    Reply

    student
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    It’s fine I’m sure a lot of it is because ECS students lack social skills.

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    ecs student with social skills
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    ‘because ECS students lack social skills’

    Do we really need to be nasty like this? I mean the comments are becoming more about ECS than what this article is about.

    Also, I’m not sure which department you’re from, but it’s definitely unacceptable to make a generalised judgement like that. There may be some students who are more socially awkward than the rest of us, but ‘lacking’ is taking it to a whole other level.

    Most of us are quite pleasant people in my opinion :)

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  • Hi
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    I think a lot of the gender-imbalances are over-played. I’m all for encouraging more girls to get into engineering etc. But I honestly don’t think there is a lack of etiquette when the men (really, they’re boys, but that’s an argument for another time) on my course interact with me. They don’t treat me any different etc. ’cause I’m a female engineer. In fact, they only ever change in their interactions if I happen to bring it up. For the most part, I am treated as an engineer, and I feel, for the most part, that this is true in the workplace also. Of course, attending careers fairs, I get blindsided when I walk around with my male peers, because the assumption is that they are the engineer and I’m just walking around. I don’t particularly like this, but it presents me with a challenge – so it’s cool (until I get relegated to the HR person, then it’s just making my life annoyingly difficult cause I’m a girl). I guess it’s hard to break centuries-old stereotypes!
    ECSWomen’s been done to death already – it’s effectively female only when the social situation calls for it, it’s open to everyone when the academics/career-related stuff kicks in. (you’re not being tricked out of any opportunities!)
    Positive discrimination’s a tricky one. Yes, it gives me an advantage, but it’s always nice to think you got a job because you’re good at it, not because you happen to be [insert minority group here]. That said, it’s practiced with all minority groups – so, effectively, in this country, the white male has it tougher than anyone else! (interestingly, the white males of my course are the ones with internships all lined up and ready to go; take from that what you will.) I do, however, like the women sponsorship-like programs. Because they do what I am passionate about – encouraging females to work in the industry. It’s all well and good doing an engineering degree – but not many females aspire to stay in the industry. Or do anything related. Finance has its draws. (monetary!) Or just anything else. So, don’t employ me just because I’m a girl. But please do encourage more girls to apply.
    I nearly forgot – climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. This is something that’s spread across the board. Fewer women make it to the top. This is probably due to a lack of will on the women’s part. There is ‘office’ politics everywhere. It’s not difficult to get to the top of an engineering firm as a woman – you just have to want it. There are not enough women in engineering firms for there to be a woman at the top – it may just be that the women that go into the industry are not really in it for the power or want to lead etc. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. etc. etc.

    Reply

    Hi
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    sorry for the lengthy reply, this kind of hits home! :p

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    There is no need to apologise! I loved your response, and I am so happy that these opinions are being articulated because it widens people’s perspective on the whole topic. I did not anticipate how sensitive this article would become, but I am glad that it is being discussed among students. Comments like yours actually help me get a well-rounded perspective of the matter as I progress through my degree and career. So, keep the opinions coming!

    Alternatively, it would be interesting to hear a male who is in the minority group. This article is not a typical ‘female=minority and men=majority’ but more looking at both perspectives. I was talking to some friends of mine and apparently Music and Physics degrees are where males are the minority. I wonder if they would have the same opinions as the females in our case.

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Also, you have epitomised the essence of my article, ” gender-imbalances are over-played”. If we do not want this to be an issue for the future, we need to change our ways of thinking. How can we make change happen when we are still looking at the past and where we are now? If creating a gender balance is a goal – whether for Electronics, Ship Science, Music, English etc – then let us not bring up the past of how gender biased it use to be. The world has change so much since then, or else I believe so.

    Yet, do we even need to concern ourselves about gender imbalance? If there are more females in Physics say, do you think there should be an initiative encouraging more males into the field? Would this even be considered right? If females have this opportunity, surely males in the same situation should have equal opportunities.

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    ecs student with social skills
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    ‘If there are more females in Physics say, do you think there should be an initiative encouraging more males into the field? Would this even be considered right? ‘

    Yes and yes. That’s exactly right. From diversity point of view, the university’s aim should be to have least minorities in each course as possible. Let me put this in better words; to have the most balanced range of students as possible..

    In midwifery, medicine or courses like this, the male to female ratio is about the same as of ECS’s, just reversed. I don’t know if they are doing anything about it actively but it would be great to have the departments encourage more males into applying those fields as well :)

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  • Arinze
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    Nice opinion piece. I don’t think anyone doubts the ability of women to compete or deliver in any field of study including engineering. In fact, on my course, the few girls we have are by no means push overs. Many of them demonstrate commendable work ethics and my studies have been greatly enriched by working with them! Their presence is a great plus and I only wish we had more of them.

    I think you are right to point out the general cultural or societal ‘norm’ that makes males and females get drawn to certain professions; this I think is a big factor. I mean, there was a time when women couldn’t even vote in Britain. However, things I believe have been getting better over the years with more women considering ‘men-dominated’ professions like Engineering as career paths.

    The opportunities already exist, girls only have to step up and take them. Parents and school teachers shouldn’t by default tell girls to go for the traditional female careers paths and the same for boys. Rather, they should be encouraged to go for whatever catches their fancy – engineering, finance, management, admin or whatever. It is not about having more women in engineering for the sake of it, but about letting women/girls know that if they do consider it, the engineering profession is one they’d love, enjoy and bring so much richness too.

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  • Olivia Ojuroye
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    Haha! Thanks ‘ecs student with social skills’ you are right, this is becoming more about ECS than it should be. It is great that people from the ECS department are making themselves known because from my impression ao far this has not been the case. Some people hold an inaccurate, negative stereotype of ECS students though. Shame really. I like to think of myself a warm, welcoming person who you can have a laugh with and have a discussion with too. I am definitely not ‘lacking’ in social skills!

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  • Sam
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    I think it would be really interesting to see the perspective of a female ECS graduate or someone who has been working in the field for a couple of years. I’m just guessing, but the world of work is often quite different to university – especially when women start having children.

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    Hi
    avatar

    Men have children also. Paternity leave is a thing.

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  • Just another guy
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    What is all the fuss you ask?
    As far as I am aware there is no fuss. Being a first year student in ECS maybe I just haven’t been given the time to notice. Men don’t make a fuss about being here, neither should women.

    I think that some of what you say in the article could be misconstrued as being sexist, and I know that if a male at ECS wrote such an article expressing similar opinions of their own on what I consider to be a fairly non-existent gender divide, then the women of ECSWomen might make a ‘fuss’ about it.

    We have all rightfully earnt our place here and should treat each other as equals. Everyone should be made to feel comfortable in the university environment.

    I am happy women have a group to share your feelings. It’s called ECSWomen, its for women and as such make it a female only group. I don’t know any guy who would make a ‘fuss’ about it, and saying men can turn up to some events is just silly. Are you embarrassed about having a female only group, or concerned about being branded as sexist?

    Women here shouldn’t feel the need to highlight themselves as a minority group, and having ECSWomen does just that and in some cases might actually pressurise some women into being part of it.

    What I am basically trying to point out is that women here know they are in the minority, and they knew that and were happy with that knowledge when they decided to come here. Have a group if it helps, but don’t beat around the bush with it, if you want a group for women to meet up and share their experience, make one but don’t post articles like this highlighting that you have a group. Do you really need a society?

    The guys here love that there are women around to balance things out in the gender department, and no one would be against having a more balanced ratio provided it was for the right reasons. It makes the department a nice place to be in, but when you ostracise yourselves with such articles, and what is an effectively female only group you only serve to widen any gap there is, and actually, it inadvertently places blame on the men in the department.

    A final question I will leave you with. Women in general have been campaigning for so long about equal rights, I wonder what will happen when they achieve the equality they strive for?

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    Olivia Ojuroye
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    Hello ‘Just another search guy’, thank you for your opinion. I am not sure what gave you the impression that I am talking on behalf of ECSWomen because I am not. Additionally, it is not accurate to assume that all females in ECSWomen even support the group (it is not a society) because not all of them do. My point is simply that there should be no fuss. If the balance between gender minorities and majorities – in any degree sector – is to change then we need to stop bringing up the past that paints the whole ‘woe is me’ depiction.

    If you say that there is a “non-existent gender divide” currently within the Engineering field you are highly mistaken. As I said, I have been fortunate to not experience any gender divide attitudes within ECS and that is likely because I have not been here long – I am a first year like you. However, before writing this opinion article I spoke to my female ECS friends who are in their second and third years who shared with me their experiences where they have experienced gender discrimination against them or degradatory comments related to their gender.

    The fact that you mentioned ostracism shows me that you have misunderstood my viewpoint. I am glad that this topic has been highlighted because it gives males, in this situation, to voice how they feel about this. Yet, it allows you to truly understand the profession yiu are going into. It is important that you are part of this discussion. I am currently arriving back to Southampton from The House of Commons that had a seminar about Gender Equality today. I actually mentioned about if having gender minority groups (male or female) can be of both help and of detriment.

    In answer to your question, when gender equality is achieved then articles like my own will have no compulsion to be written and the world will continue spinning. Until then, both male and females need to learn to work together and see each other through merit and not as opposing camps.

    Thanks for your contribution, I have learnt a lot, and I hope you have learnt how a gender minority feels in this kind of situation. I can imagine males are in the gender minority – like in nursery teaching – will have a similar story.

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  • Jaded
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    I think this article just highlights the problem of people making a fuss out of non-issues. It’s the 21st century. Women pursue careers now, including STEM subjects.

    You don’t see that many men writing articles about going into nursing now, do you?

    TL;DR, Women engineers: big deal.

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    Frustrated Engineer
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    I’m in agreement with the above. I also have a vehement hatred of the insistence on 50/50 representation. The fact is, sometimes women are dissuaded from careers in engineering because they are women. However, men are somehow dissuaded from nursing, or any number of female-dominated fields.

    But the key here is that women have to apply to the courses in order for there to be women on the course! You can’t magic women out of thin air, and I feel there’s already enough ‘push’ factors (ECSWomen, potentially easier job prospects, etc) to encourage women to look past the male-dominated nature of the field.

    I think the key fact is that lots of women like to complain about under-representation but if you were interested enough in a subject, surely you would jump over any number of possible obstacles in order to study it at university (as many ECS women clearly have, and for that they should be commended).

    I suppose my main point is, I don’t feel there are real obstacles to women becoming engineers anymore. Women, just like men, have to make decisions during their education to ensure they are able to study what they want to study, and they have to achieve. As far as I’m concerned; if a woman can choose to study engineering, or an ECS subject and get the grades and have no more obstacles than that – we have already reached gender equality.

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    Olivia
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    Hello ‘Frustrated Engineer’, I agree to what you have said. I think what should improve is career advice during education. I was doing six subjects during Sixth Form, including Maths, Physics, and Chemistry and I was not pushed towards an Engineering degree when I took my subjects. In fact, I came up with that decision on my own.

    I knew I wanted to do Artificial Intelligence and only considered any form of Engineering because that is what the University degree courses were describing AI to be. For example, AI with Electronic Engineering, Computer Systems Engineering etc.

    I think teachers need to have more knowledge when suggesting career paths to students. Taking a certain subject combination does not make you destined to be a certain industry or career. Nonetheless, of course certain combinations can reduce your range of options. There needs to be more freedom of choice in some respects.

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  • Name
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    so I came across this movie about women rights (equal pay in paricular).
    Maybe someone might like it…I did
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rcc33/Made_in_Dagenham/

    Reply

    Olivia
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    Thanks ‘Name’ :)

    Reply