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Gender and engineering : alternative styles of engineering Van Beers, Anne M. 1996

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GENDER A N D ENGINEERING: A L T E R N A T I V E STYLES OF ENGINEERING By Anne M . van Beers Bachelor of Arts, University of California, Berkeley, 1991 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTERS OF ARTS in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Anthropology and Sociology We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A August 1996 © Anne M . van Beers, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Department DE-6 (2/88) 11 ABSTRACT The slowly increasing number of women in the engineering profession has led to considerable debate on the impact women may have on the profession, in particular the potential role of women as diffusion agents of values and perspectives thus far unexpressed in technology. This qualitative study explores the issue of gendered styles of work and thought through a study of engineers' perceptions on the possibility of alternative styles of engineering, and what different styles of engineering would look like in terms of the practice of engineering and the type of technology developed. The study further explores motivations behind educational and career choices and gender variation in disciplinary preferences; gender differences and similarities in work experiences; whether women feel the need to transform the profession; and whether they feel able to introduce change. Forty engineers (twenty women, twenty men) were interviewed with regard to their work experiences, and their views on gendered work styles in the engineering workplace. Most participants thought the presence of women would change the structure of the engineering work environment, the culture of engineering, and the practice of engineering. Responses indicate some support for the idea of alternative styles of engineering in that women were perceived to have a more contextual approach to engineering, to have better communication and interaction skills, and to prefer a more consensual working relationship over hierarchical structures. A quarter of the engineers also believed alternative styles of engineering will change the content of engineering. Responses further indicate some support for the idea that disciplinary choices are in part an expression of gendered values and views. Most participants felt opportunity structures are gendered, and women who felt their work behaviour or style differed from men felt this affected their rate of progress in the workplace. Moreover, responses indicate women do perceive themselves as agents of change and feel a responsibility for introducing change towards improving the status of women in engineering, and the integration and retention of women in the profession. TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables v Acknowledgements vi Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Chapter 2 Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 6 2.1 Introduction 6 2.2 Women in the Canadian Labour Force 6 2.3 The Presence of Women in Engineering 19 2.4 Women and Engineering 20 2.4.1 Feminist Critiques of Science and Technology 20 2.4.2 Alternative Styles of Engineering: Prior Findings 28 2.5 Conclusion 35 Chapter 3 Research Design 37 3.1 Introduction 37 3.2 Prior Experiences 39 3.3 The Research Design 41 3.3.1 Data Collection 41 3.3.2 The Interview 44 3.4 Data Analysis 46 3.6 Conclusion 48 Chapter 4 Engineering as a Career Choice 49 4.1 Introduction 49 4.2 Engineering as a Career Choice -49 4.3 Conclusion 63 Chapter 5 Work Experiences, Career Aspirations and Career Planning 66 5.1 Introduction 66 5.2 The Reality of the Working World 66 5.3 Career Aspirations and Prospects 71 iv 5.4 Career Choice Satisfaction 80 5.5 Career Planning 86 5.6 Sources of Job Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction 90 5.7 Conclusion 95 Chapter 6 The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 99 6.1 Introduction 99 6.2 The Desired Engineering Work Environment 100 6.3 Visions of the Ideal Engineer 105 6.4 Engineers as Agents of Change 109 6.5 Women as Agents of Social Change in the Engineering Profession 115 6.6 Conclusion 127 Chapter 7 Discussion and Conclusion 130 Bibliography 138 Appendix A Towards the Development of Future Knowledge in Engineering 144 Appendix B Certificate of Approval issues by the Behavioural Sciences Committee for research Involving Human Subjects 145 Appendix C Letter of Introduction 146 Appendix D Consent Form 148 Appendix E Interview Schedule 150 V LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Women as a percentage of total employment, by selected occupational groups, 1991 7 Table 2 Percentage of female professional engineers by province, December, 1990 9 Table 3 Women in engineering sub-specialities, 1971 and 1981 11 Table 4 Female and male professional engineers by discipline of work, 1990 11 Table 5 Undergraduate enrollment of Canadian Women in engineering programs as a proportion of the total by discipline, 1990 18 Table 6 Years of work experience by sex 42 Table 7 Fields of employment within engineering by sex 43 Table 8 Equal advancement opportunities in current place of work 77 Table 9 Equal advancement opportunities in the profession 78 Table 10 Engineering as a career choice: would engineers make the same occupational choice? 81 Table 11 Anticipated length of time of employment in engineering 86 vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am indebted to numerous people who's contributions made this thesis possible. I would like to thank my committee ( Fiona Kay, Gillian Creese and Ken Stoddart)) for their input and wisdom. My advisor, Fiona Kay, should be thanked not only for the support and guidance shown throughout the completion of the thesis but also for her endless source of patience. Thanks are also extended to the forty individuals who took the time to aid me in the learning quest on which I set out. Obviously, this thesis would not exist without their willingness to participate. Sarah Dench has my gratitude for helpful conversations, contacts, and her humour. There are of course the many friends who kept me sane throughout this endeavor and were there to help right until the end. Of course, Doug is to be commended on remaining the eternal optimist and believing that one day I would finish this study. He somehow managed to continue to put things in perspective, and supported me even when he was not yet legally obliged. I would like to thank all of family, my four parents in particular, for their emotional support, their generosity, and simply for putting up with me. 1 C H A P T E R 1 INTRODUCTION ... the all-pervasive male values of the engineering workplace, suggest, that there is, at present, a high personal price for women to pay for success in this milieu. Yet, it is important...for the profession to have women members to broaden its perspectives. Society pays a price for having such a crucial activity divorced from women and the perspectives and values that women bring - for example, concerns about caring, about nurturing people and relationships (Carter and Kirkup, 1990:154). While efforts to increase the number of women in engineering continue, several suppositions have surfaced advocating the benefits of an increased presence of women in the field. The quotation above captures one of these proposed benefits, the introduction of alternative styles of engineering. This is the idea that women engineers may approach engineering differently and produce different technology by bringing different perspectives, values, and characteristics to their work. This thesis explores the possibility of alternative styles of engineering. The assumption that women engineers will bring change to the profession based on different, gendered styles of engineering raises new questions. For example, what would an alternative or gendered style of engineering look like and what would such differences mean for the practice of engineering, the type of products and technology developed, or the organization of the engineering work environment? Furthermore, do engineers, in particular women, see a necessity to transform the profession or the practice of engineering and i f such is the case, do Introduct ion 2 they feel able to do so? Also what would these changes be?1 Lastly, i f their work behaviour differs what do these alternative styles of engineering mean in terms of career progress and planning? In order to understand whether the increased participation of women in engineering will lead to changes in the engineering profession it is necessary to first understand and compare the work experiences of women and men engineers. This research study represents an inquiry into aspects of the working lives of engineers in an effort to understand the role of gendered work behaviour in the anticipated professional change by the increasing presence of women in the profession. Twenty men and twenty women engineers were interviewed for this purpose. The changes which were considered included changes in the organization of the work environment (flexible work options, the availability of parental leaves, etc.), changes in valued communication and interpersonal styles, changes in skills and characteristics valued in an engineer, changes in the practice or content of engineering (i.e.; the kind of technology pursued and developed), and any other changes more generally in the culture of engineering. The thesis begins with a literature review and consists of six chapters in addition to the introductory chapter. Chapter Two presents an overview of the status of women in the labour force with an emphasis on the engineering profession. The chapter further introduces the theoretical premise of the transformatory potential of women engineers and the idea of alternative styles of engineering. Feminist critiques of science and engineering are briefly reviewed for this purpose. Chapter Two also reviews recent studies on the subject of alternative styles of engineering and the potential tranformatory role of women engineers. This discussion and review provides the context to the key questions which form the focus of this study. Chapter Three details the research design. The chapter describes the study's methodology through a discussion of the process of the data collection, the interview design, and the •Some of these questions were first raised by Whalley (1992) in his book review of Gender, Power, and Workplace Culture by Mcllwee and Robinson (1992). Introduction 3 techniques of data analysis. It further describes the format and content of the interview schedule used in the data collection stage. Chapters Four, Five, and Six document and analyse the responses to the themes addressed during the interviews with the forty participants. Chapter Four probes the motivations behind engineering as an educational and career choice. It explores the proposition that disciplinary choices are an expression of gendered values by examining motivations for these choices within engineering; thus, attempting to find reasons for the gendered preferences for specializations. Chapter Five explores work experiences, career aspirations and plans. This chapter compares the career aspirations of men and women and their perceptions of the prospects of fulfilling their career goals. Sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are shared by the forty engineers as are intentions to stay or leave the engineering profession. Chapter Six turns to the question of alternative styles of engineering. The engineers were polled as to their views on the process of change in their profession, in particular with regard to the practice and content of engineering. Their responses were used to explore how they view their own role in this process. The chapter documents the changes the engineers would like to see and their definition of a 'good engineer' in the current restructuring of engineering workplaces. Engineers were asked whether they feel personal values, views, and characteristics are relevant to their approach to their work or i f these factors affect their priorities. Lastly, the question is asked of the engineers, whether (based on personal experiences) they feel women and men differ in the way they engage in or approach engineering. If such differences do in fact exist, how might they lead to changes in the way engineering is practiced or changes in the engineering end product (i.e., the content of engineering)? Chapter Seven presents a discussion of the thoughts and opinions reflected in the three preceding chapters with an emphasis on the possibility of alternative gendered styles of engineering and whether this would lead to changes in the engineering profession as a whole. The chapter returns to the original main questions in the study and offers concluding remarks Introduction 4 regarding the status of women in engineering. It also summarizes changes in the engineering work environment or culture beneficial to the integration of women in the profession. It further proposes possibilities for the direction of future research. Summary This thesis examines the role of women engineers in the on-going social restructuring of engineering, a traditionally male-dominated profession. Currently, a shortage exists of studies in this area. Thus, the question of whether engineering will change as a result of the increasing presence of women remains to be answered. Studies have documented gender differences in social values with regard to the objectives, goals, value and role of technology in society. Yet, whether these differences are translated into work behaviour, and i f so how these differences will transform the image and nature of the profession, and the technological knowledge produced is unclear. To answer these questions, it is important to understand the role of the structure and culture of engineering in the expression of different perspectives and values. Similar questions have been raised with regard to the possible effects of gendered work behaviour to the practice of law and the legal profession (Menkel-Meadow, 1985). The qualitative insights into possible commonalties and differences in the work experiences of men and women engineers will enhance our knowledge about the process of change and the role women engineers may play in this process. Gender differences may not find translation in work values because of the current structure of the workplace, the workplace culture, criteria for success and promotion, traditional assumptions of what constitutes technology and non-technology, and socialization into the culture of engineering. It is important for the integration of women in the engineering profession to understand whether alternative styles of engineering exist, and i f they do what this means in terms of the work engineers do or the kind of technology developed, as well as the status of women in the profession. Wajcman (1991:23) argues that different social groups have different interests and resources, and, consequently, the development process elicits conflicts between different views Introduction 5 of technical requirements of a device. The social interests, values, and attitudes of women should be reflected in engineering or the production of technology. This is to say that, the direction of growth in which society moves, the design of society, should be influenced by the social interests and values of women as well as those of men. However, i f alternative styles exist and women engineers feel a need to change the profession or practice of engineering what do they feel is the impact of this for their status and integration into the profession? ...there is nothing wrong with women. There is nothing wrong with not being aggressive, with not being pushy, and one of the things I think is important... to now remember is how much women bring by the very fact that they are women. ... we should at this point remember how much women have to bring and that in addition to personal and institutional things the struggles that we have and have had are imbedded in a larger struggle of society, around the issues of justice and consequently that is not served if we begin to be mere substitutes of our male peers.2 This quote suggests that the source of the struggle of women engineers is part of a larger struggle in society at large; that is, its issues of justice and equity which must be overcome. It voices the need to value diversity within the work force and in particular within engineering by learning to value the skills and talents women have to offer. Within it lies the recognition of the burden that lies on the shoulders of women engineers and forms the centre of this study, which explores the 'transformatory potential' of women in engineering. 2 Dr. Ursula Franklin, talk at More Than Just Numbers Conference, May 1995. 6 C H A P T E R 2 THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES AND RECENT RESEARCH 2.1 Introduction This chapter provides the context to this study of gender and engineering work experiences. The chapter first reviews women's status and participatory roles in the general labour force and within the engineering profession, more specifically; focusing on the segregated nature of the Canadian labour force. The chapter briefly touches upon some of the work experiences of women engineers including the variation in the growth and participation rate by field of specialization within engineering, employment preferences, and gendered opportunity structures. Following the discussion of the segregated nature of the Canadian labour force, thoughts and views regarding the potential transformatory role of women engineers and alternative styles of engineering. This discussion includes a review of feminist critiques of science and technology and literature related to alternatives styles of engineering based on gendered cognitive, moral, and emotional styles. The review leads to a discussion of the questions which form the focus of the study. 2.2 Women in the Canadian labour force Throughout the Twentieth century the marked increase in women's participation within the labour force has caused the total labour force participation rate to increase despite a decrease in the participation rate of men (Krahn and Lowe, 1988). The 1994 Canadian Census Data show that 52 percent of all women over the age of fifteen are now employed, constituting 45 percent of the work force. Despite the fact that women make up nearly half of the labour force and despite Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 7 continuing growth in the female participation rate in the labour force, their work experiences show marked differences from those of men. While the demography of the labour force is changing many characteristics and work experiences are proving resistant to change (Ghalam, 1993). One such characteristic is horizontal occupational sex segregation, defined as the concentration of the sexes in specific, different occupations (Fox and Fox, 1987; Krahn and Lowe, 1988). Sex segregation between occupations is a pervasive and continuing phenomenon (Krahn and Lowe, 1988; Armstrong and Armstrong, 1992). The majority of women continue to be employed in traditionally female dominated professions. In 1991, 71 percent of the women in the labour force were employed in either teaching, nursing or related health professions, clerical, sales or service. In comparison, the percentage of men within the work force employed in these areas was only 30 percent. Thus, despite the considerable growth in the overall participation rate of women in the labour force, this growth has not greatly altered the segregated nature of the labour force. Table 1 shows the percentage of women employed in the various occupational groups drawn from Ghalam's report Women in the Workplace (1993:14V Table 1 Women as a percentage of total employment, by selected occupational groups, 1991* Nursing/Health related 87.0% Doctors/Dentists etc. 26.9% Clerical 80.8% Primary 22.2% Teaching 64.7% Material handling 20.7% Service 56.6% Manufacturing 19.1% Social Sciences/Religion 46.2% Natural Sciences 18.1% Artistic/Recreational 41.9% Transportation 8.7% Managerial/Administrative 40.4% Construction 2.1% •Source: Ghalam (1993:14). Several other characteristics influence women's working realities. Women still juggle parenting and work responsibilities as they continue to hold primary responsibilities for both household and family. Furthermore, the participation rate of women in the work force continues Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 8 to vary according to marital status, parenthood, age, and field of employment (Krahn and Lowe, 1988; Ghalam, 1993). The number of working married women and working mothers has not only increased, but married women account for almost all of the growth in women's employment that occurred during the past decade (Ghalam, 1993:5); over half of the women in the workplace are married (56%), and almost two-thirds of mothers with children under the age of sixteen were in the workplace in 1991. The participation of women in the work force further varies by age. Women in the 25-44 age group were most likely to be employed, and in 1991, 71 percent of women in this age group were employed. The typical employed woman in the Canadian labour force is likely to work in traditionally female dominated areas of employment, earning an average of 70 percent of her male counterpart's salary, irrespective of educational attainment (Ghalam, 1993:5). Another aspect of women's work is its frequent part-time nature (Ghalam, 1993; Krahn, 1991). As Krahn (1991) discusses, non-standard forms of employment such as part-time work appear to be on the rise and have become much more common during the past two decades. During that time period, women have consistently composed approximately 70 percent of the part-time labour force. In 1991, at least a quarter of the women in the work force were in part-time employment. Reasons for choosing part-time employment are a personal preference for part-time work, the inability to find full-time work, or a need to balance personal and family responsibilities. Krahn (1991) argues that non-standard work typically offers less job security and lower pay, and that these types of jobs are concentrated within particular segments of the working population. Thus, a quarter of the women in the labour force, composing 70 percent of the part-time employees, receive little job security and reduced pay. Nevertheless, for at least one out of four women in the work force this form of employment is a working reality. Segregation continues to be one of the most pervasive characteristics shaping the working realities and experiences of men and women. Sex segregation comes in different shapes and forms. It exists within society (horizontal sex segregation), and within occupations. Sex Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 9 segregation further exists within organizations (Reskin, 1993; Krahn and Lowe, 1988), and operates on an interactional and individual level (Miller-Loessie, 1992). At a societal level the continuation of gender inequality is evidenced not only through the existence of horizontal occupational sex segregation, but by sex segregation within occupations as well (vertical sex segregation). Table 1 indicates the dismal representation of women in the natural sciences including engineering and mathematics. Women's presence in these fields accounted for 19 percent of the 1994 labour force (Steele, 1995). This fact represents a mere 1 percentage point increase from 1991 and only a 3 percentage point increase over the 16 percent participation which women constituted in these traditionally male areas of employment in 1981 (Ghalam, 1993:15; Steele, 1995:28). Yet, the number of women within the engineering profession is even more dismal. Only a fraction of the women that comprised 18 percent of the 1991 labour force in natural sciences and engineering are actually employed in engineering. The number of women in engineering has been slowly increasing over recent years, but only very slowly. Only 0.5 percent of registered engineers in Canada were women in 1980 (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992), but by 1995 the percentage had grown to 5.1 percent (Buckingham, 1995). The growth between 1990 and 1995 alone constituted a 61% increase in the number of women in the engineering profession, which in 1995 has reached 8,186 (Buckingham, 1995). Table 2 shows the percentage of professional women engineers by province in 1990. Table 2: Percentage of female professional engineers by province. December. 1990* Quebec 4.7% Nova Scotia 2.7% Alberta 4.6% Prince Edward Island 2.5% Northwest Territories 3.8% British Columbia 2.1% Newfoundland 3.4% Manitoba 2.0% New Brunswick 3.1% Saskatchewan 1.8% Ontario 2.8% Yukon 1.4% Source: Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering (1992:59). Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 10 The percentage of women engineers differs considerably across the provinces. The percentage of women employed within British Columbia in 1991 and the proportion of the provincial labour force comprised by women in British Columbia is approximately the same as the national rate of 53 percent and 45 percent respectively. However, in comparison to other provinces, British Columbia, which is the focus of this study, has one of the lowest percentages of women professional engineers (2.1%). One reason for this may be the resource based engineering in the province, such as mining and the pulp and paper industries, which are prominent in British Columbia. Women are less likely to be employed in these areas of resource based engineering than in engineering in general (see Table 3). Considering the effort to change the status of women in science and engineering and to increase the participation of women in these areas of study and employment, the growth in the number of women engineers has been slow (Marshall, 1987; Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991). Furthermore, the variation in the participation and growth of women in the engineering labour force by fields of specialization indicates the occurrence of vertical sex segregation within engineering. Krahn and Lowe (1988) use the concept of vertical sex segregation to describe the sexual division of tasks, status, and responsibilities that exist within specific occupations. Vertical sex segregation has been documented within professions such as law, medicine, and engineering (Armstrong and Armstrong, 1992). Although the number of women engineers is slowly increasing, this growth is disproportionate and varies by area of specialization within engineering. Table 3 shows the differential growth rate across the different areas of specialization in engineering as an increase in percentages of women engineers employed. Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 11 Table 3: Women in engineering sub-specialties in Canada. 1971 and 1981* Women as a % of total Women as a % of total employment in profession growth in profession Sub-specialtv 1971 1981 1971-1981 Chemical engineers 1.8 5.9 12.9 Civi l engineers 1.1 3.0 6.9 Electrical engineers 1.3 3.7 6.7 Mechanical engineers 0.8 1.9 4.5 Metallurgical engineers 1.7 2.8 3.8 Mining engineers 0.9 2.9 5.9 Petroleum engineers 1.1 4.9 6.7 Nuclear engineers 0.0 4.8 6.9 •Source: Marshall (1987:9). There is an indication, in Table 3, that the effort to increase the representation of women engineers is not as successful in all areas of engineering. Mechanical, metallurgical, and mining are areas in which women are least represented, and where the growth in their numbers is the least. A look at the situation in 1990 shows a continuation of this trend almost 10 years later. Table 4: Female and male professional engineers by discipline of work in Canada. 1990* #Women %Women #Men %Men #Total %Women (of total) Civi l 722 19 24328 21 25050 3 Petroleum 692 18 9138 8 9830 7 Non-Engineering 620 16 15851 14 16471 4 Chemical 485 13 6315 5 6800 7 Electrical 462 12 17376 15 17838 3 Industrial 285 7 6563 6 6848 4 Mechanical 240 6 11813 10 12053 2 Computer 133 3 2785 2 2918 5 Geological 85 2 2585 2 2670 3 Other Engineering 80 2 ' 15629 13 15709 1 Construction 71 2 5206 4 5277 1 Total 3875 100 117589 100 121464 3 * Source: Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering (1992:73). The percentage of the chemical engineering work force comprised by women continued to slowly grow between 1981 and 1990, but growth in areas such as civil engineering and mechanical engineering stagnated. In electrical engineering the percentage comprised by women Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 12 declined from 3.7 percent to 3 percent. Of the women and men who enter engineering, women are more than twice as likely as men to choose chemical engineering (13% versus 5%) or petroleum (18% versus 8%) as their discipline; while men are much more likely to choose to specialize in mechanical engineering (10% versus 6%). Thus, despite inroads toward integration, men and women are differently represented amongst disciplines within engineering, and women tend to specialize in chemical, civil, and petroleum more so than areas such as mechanical or electrical. The resegregation resulting from this variation in preference between certain areas of specialization within engineering is creating female ghettoes (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1989; Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991; Sorensen, 1992). The apparent gender division of labour within occupations has been noted in the medical and legal professions as well (Krahn and Lowe, 1988; Armstrong and Armstrong, 1992; Hagan and Kay, 1995). Armstrong and Armstrong (1992) draw on studies on the medical profession and the legal profession which show that in both of these professions the fields women are likely to concentrate on are the least powerful and prestigious fields. Furthermore, Reskin (1988) argues that within occupations where sex integration appears to have occurred, women are concentrated into certain specialties or work settings. It appears that the engineering profession is no exception. Within the engineering profession resegregation can be seen along more "masculine" areas of engineering (Sorensen, 1992) and engineering specializations which are regarded as easier or "soft engineering" (Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991) or less prestigious (Hacker, 1981; Mcllwee and Robinson, 1992). The areas of engineering which women are more likely to specialize in do not yield the same status, value or pay (Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991). For example, Sorensen and Berg (1987) noted the 'genderization of technology.' This refers to the gender-typing of technological artifacts (tools, instruments, or equipment) as feminine and masculine. Examples of some of the artifacts they asked students to rate are cement mixer, car motor, sewing machine, fiber optics, electric drill, oil-eating bacteria, and dishwasher. Sorensen and Berg also noted the tendency of individuals Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 13 who rated a technological artifact as masculine to assign higher status to that artifact compared with those perceived as feminine. They further observed the association of masculine artifacts with industrial technology and the association of feminine ones with fields stereotypically characterized with living things/creatures and care-taking. Hacker (1981) found a similar identification of activities, styles of interaction, jobs, artifacts, and bodies of knowledge with masculinity and femininity giving rise to a gendered hierarchy in which a feminine identification evokes a low status while a masculine identification yields a high status. This stereotypical dichotomy could partially explain the segregation within engineering or the attraction of particular fields for women as more appropriate disciplines in an otherwise male-dominated profession. Yet, it can also lead to a situation similar to that of other professions in which women will be more likely to be found in the least powerful and prestigious fields within engineering. For example, several women engineers made a reference to 'soft' engineering and 'hard' engineering during the interviews, indicating the internalization of the gendering of technology and engineering. The higher concentration of women in particular fields can also lead to a devaluation of such fields. As more women participate within specific fields, these fields could come to be viewed as requiring less skills, or being easier, soft engineering, or associated with traditionally feminine values such as nurturing and caring values. This association leads to a devaluation of skills, because of the differential evaluation of skills in society (Reskin, 1988; Miller-Loessi, 1992). As Reskin (1988) argues, the tendency of society and employers to devalue women's work appears partly because women do the work. Similarly, Wajcman (1991) accurately assesses skills as socially rather than technically defined and skills used by women are yet to be fully (or equally) recognized and valued. A recent study by Wright and Jacobs (1994) suggests that the entrance of women into a male profession (computer science) may not necessarily lead to resegregation or the feminization of sub-specialties. Nevertheless, others feel that as more women participate within specific fields, these fields may become associated with women which Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 14 could lead to a devaluation in status, and give rise to distinctions such as soft and hard engineering (Reskin, 1988; Miller-Loessi, 1992). Segregation further manifests itself at an organizational level within occupations in that men tend to be in positions of greater authority, positions that are more rewarding, and positions with advancement possibilities while women remain in the lower echelons of the authority structures (Bielby and Baron, 1984; Krahn and Lowe, 1988; Miller-Loessi, 1992; McGuire and Reskin, 1993). Several studies indicate a similar trend in the engineering profession and suggest the development of a division within sub-specialties between more prestigious, higher-paying jobs with good opportunities for advancement and routine jobs with consequently poor rewards, and little chance of autonomy, innovation, and promotion (Sorensen and Berg, 1987; Jagacinski, 1987; Mcllwee and Robinson, 1989). In 1991, 64 percent of Canadian women engineers were in non-supervisory roles compared to 20 percent of men (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992). Men were twice as likely to be technical specialists (15% compared to 8%). Furthermore, while 20% of men were in executive or senior positions only 3 percent of women occupied these positions. For example, in terms of absolute numbers, in the 1990 engineering work force there were 66 women in senior management positions and 41 women in executive positions compared to over 10,000 men in each of these positions. As the level of job responsibility increases the fraction of women involved becomes smaller. It should be noted when combining these numbers, that in 1990 women engineers still only comprised 3.2 percent of the total engineering work force. Studies about women in the work force have shown that for women who do advance, the scope and nature of management authority is not only affected by factors such as education and experience, but also by sex (Reskin and Ross, 1992; McGuire and Reskin, 1993). A n American study of 222 managers by Reskin and Ross (1992) suggests that women who make it into management are concentrated in the lower layers of authority, tend to supervise workers of their own sex, are less likely than their male counterparts to exercise decision-making authority and that their involvement in decision-making is largely confined to offering input into the decisions Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 15 made by men. Research has documented similar findings in the case of engineering. It has been noted that there are differences in relative job status and mobility or advancement patterns despite similar educational levels, time on the job, occupational values (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1989) or levels of technical responsibility (Jagacinski, 1987). Furthermore, Jagacinski, Lebold and Linden (1987) found differences in salaries and supervisory responsibilities for American engineers could not be explained by educational differences or differences in self-confidence and only in part by career breaks. Several other observations can be made about women's participation in the engineering labour force. For example in 1990, 80 percent of women engineers were between the ages of 25 and 39, with two-thirds of women engineers in the 25 to 34 age range (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992). This is the age group for which decisions regarding family planning and combining family and career responsibilities become an issue. The difficulty of balancing family and work responsibilities is regarded as a possible factor in the attrition rate of women engineers. Thus, the age group encompassing eighty percent of the women engineers faces the considerable difficulty of balancing work and family and the challenge of establishing a precedent. One reason for part-time work is family responsibilities (Krahn, 1991). Several women interviewed for this study indicated that this form of employment so far has been a rarity in engineering; one that they would like to see become more available, established, and acceptable as a flexible work option. Furthermore, even though women engineers only earn 81 percent of what their male colleagues earn, this is one of the higher earnings ratios for women compared to men. The average earnings of women in 1991 was 70 percent of men's earnings (Ghalam, 1993). Nevertheless, results of a 1994 membership survey on compensation and benefits by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia indicate gender based salary inequities (Ellis, Giuricich, LeClair, and Savage, 1995). The Canadian Committee of Women Engineers (1992) noted that industry of employment may be a contributing factor and noted that while more men than women are employed in the consulting industry, more women Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 16 than men are employed by the government. Furthermore, more men than women work in the construction industry. One out of five women engineers works for the government while over half of the women engineers (53%) work either in the resource industry, the consulting industry or the government (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992). The argument of maternity leave as a reason for women's slower progress through the ranks is questionable. Apparently women engineers take few leaves of absence (Canadian Committee on Women Engineers, 1992), and Ellis and colleagues (1995) report that in B.C. the average number and the total length of leaves was about the same for both men and women engineers. Another aspect of women's working reality is the gendered nature of the workplace itself. Miller-Loessi (1992:7) draws attention to interactional aspects of the workplace in the issue of women's integration in the work force which "looks at the characteristics of the interaction among individuals in the workplace and/or the interaction of the person with the job." This approach regards jobs as socially constructed through the interactions between people in a workplace, in this case engineering, such that jobs over time become molded by the abilities and skills of the incumbent. In the case of engineering, the social construction historically has been developed by men. Through interaction and impression management masculine values and norms are continuously perpetuated (Robinson and Mcllwee 1989, 1991). Thus, gender role expectations and perceptions are enacted and perpetuated in interactions between individuals and shape collegial and supervisory relations. The culture of engineering continues to be masculine, and women engineers still enter a gendered field of employment which incorporates masculine values. Robinson and Mcllwee (1991:417) posit that within "constraints set by technology, organizational culture, and power relations, engineers 'construct' their occupations: engineering is, in part, a social construct based on the particular interests of engineers." This may be evident in organizational characteristics of a particular work environment such as criteria for success or definitions of skill, interactional style and style of communication favoured, a particular image of an engineer, and a managed Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 17 self-presentation by engineers to conform to this image (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1989, 1991). Robinson and Mcllwee consider the workplace "a structural arena of power relationships, within which individuals and groups pursue and maintain self-serving occupational cultures" (1991:403). They discuss the gendered forms of interaction in the culture of engineering which values behaviors and orientations consistent with the male gender role. Engineering competence is a function of how well one presents an image of an aggressive, competitive, technically oriented person...To be taken as engineer is to look like and engineer, talk like an engineer, and act like an engineer. In most workplace this means looking, talking, and acting male (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1991:406). In essence, the elimination of structural barriers alone does little to change the gendered identity of engineering, the work environment, or the workplace culture. Thus, the integration of women in the engineering work force requires a restructuring of the gendered nature of the workplace to work toward a better balance of gendered behaviour and orientations. How will the participatory rate of women in the engineering labour force change in the coming decade? To answer this question one can look at the enrollment rate of women in the field of engineering and applied science at the university level and the percentage of bachelor's degrees in engineering and applied science awarded to women. Since some believe change will occur once a critical mass of women has been achieved in the engineering work force it is not only of interest to look back but also to look toward future increases of the participatory rate of women in the engineering work force. In 1975 women comprised 3 percent of bachelor degrees awarded in engineering and applied science, while in 1991, 15 percent of the degrees were awarded to women. This constitutes a change of 12 percentage points over a span of 16 years (Industry, Science and Technology Canada, 1991) However, during that same time span the percentage of first professional degrees in law and medicine earned by women grew such that women now earn approximately half of the degrees in medicine and law (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992). During a twenty year period the percentage of women enrolled in Canadian Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 18 undergraduate engineering faculties grew from 3 percent in 1974 to 18.2 percent in the 1994-1995 academic year (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992; Buckingham, 1995). The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada projected that by the end of 1995 women will earn over 18 percent of bachelor's degrees awarded in engineering and applied science (LaJeunesse, 1995). In comparison, the enrollment of women across all years of undergraduate study in engineering faculties at the University of British Columbia was approximately 17 percent (Dench, 1995). The continuing but slow growth of less than 1 percentage point per year in the representation of women in engineering programs seems to indicate that the growth of women in the engineering labour force will also continue to be a slow and arduous process (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992; Buckingham, Enrollment patterns also yield evidence that women within the engineering labour force continue to favour particular engineering fields. Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly (1991) found that in 1989 the majority of Canadian male full-time undergraduate students were concentrated in mechanical and electrical engineering, whereas the majority of their female counterparts were concentrated in chemical and civil engineering. Table 6 shows the undergraduate enrollment of women in 1990 by discipline, which reflects a similar trend of gender distribution to that seen in the workplace. Table 5 Undergraduate enrollment of Canadian women in engineering programs as a proportion of the total by discipline. 1990* 1995). Chemical 28.9 Geological 21.5 Civi l 19.0 Industrial 18.0 Agricultural 17.8 Materials 16.0 Other Engineering/General 14.7 Metallurgical Mining/Mineral Surveying Engineering Physics/Science Mechanical Electrical Computer 13.8 13.0 12.3 10.3 9.4 8.8 6.9 *Source: Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1990:36. Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 19 Thus, despite the growth in women's participation in the Canadian work force, the work force remains segregated in a variety of ways. Men and women remain segregated between and within occupations, and at an organizational level between positions of greater advancement opportunities, value, and authority and positions with little advancement opportunities, or status. Furthermore, the culture of engineering and the engineering workplace largely remain associated with the male gender role. In sum, while inroads are slowly being made toward occupational integration in the engineering profession resegregation is becoming apparent due to varying disciplinary preferences, gendered advancement opportunities, and the male dominated and defined work culture. Having reviewed the segregated nature of women in the work force, and in particular the engineering work force, the argument for the importance and necessity of occupational integration will be reviewed followed by a discussion of prior research on the potential transformatory role of women engineers. 2.3 The presence of women in engineering The problem of understanding and eliminating the under-representation of women in science and technology has been a subject of much study since the early seventies, and has produced several different explanations and suggestions for interventions. The concern and need for addressing this problem is motivated by the belief that the under-representation of women signals: (1) a loss of a potential pool of talent and (2) a loss of different perspectives from which to benefit and draw. Many feel increasing the presence of women in engineering and working towards equal opportunities and rewards is an issue of justice. However, part of the attention towards women as a potential pool of talent is spurred by the observation of Reskin (1993) that throughout recent history a shortage of male workers in traditionally male occupations has created opportunities for women to gain entry to those occupations given that a pool of qualified women exist to profit from the opportunity. A shortage of engineers has been predicted in Canada by the year 2000 based on decreasing enrollments within engineering at post-secondary Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 20 institutions, decreasing numbers of engineers emigrating to Canada, and the anticipation of economic growth (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992:1). The number of engineering jobs is anticipated to grow by 26,000 while the number of engineers is projected to grow only by 5,000 (McKay, 1992). The second reason for the importance of the representation of women in engineering has led to much debate on the potential transformatory role of women in engineering. There is an assumption that women will add a different perspective and bring a different approach to technology and the task of engineering. For example, similar to the sentiment in the opening quote to the introduction of this thesis, the National Advisory Board on Science and Technology stated in a 1993 report that: Every sector of the population must be fully recognized and valued for the diversity it contributes to the social and economic fabric of a nation. Until women are fully integrated as equal contributors in all sectors and at all levels, society will suffer the loss of unique and significant female skills and attributes. A striking example exists in the strong communication, interpersonal and cooperative skills so commonly manifested by women (National Advisory Board on Science and Technology, 1993:19). These differences refer to gendered work behaviour with regard to communications and interpersonal styles. Others argue more substantial differences of perspectives, namely different values and views that will be brought to bear on the process and content of technology. This view is founded on feminist critiques of science and technology, and psychological theories of socialization. 2.4 Women and Engineering 2.4.1 Feminist critiques of science and technology Early feminist critiques of gender inequality in traditional masculine areas of employment such as science and technology focused on structural barriers that served to perpetuate and maintain unequal opportunities for women. Therefore, intervention strategies and suggestions that have come forth out of the reports and studies on the status of women in science Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 21 and engineering can be seen to mostly have an individualistic orientation aimed at improving women's access to education and employment in science and engineering (e.g., Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992; National Advisory Board on Science and Technology, 1993). Some of the suggested strategies are to eliminate sex discrimination in employment and advancement issues, encourage girls and women to study math and science, provide role models in schools which dispel the myth that girls and women are not capable of pursuing careers that require math and science skills and improve girls' and women's self-confidence in their abilities in these areas, change the image of these traditionally perceived masculine fields, recognize the different needs of women scientists and engineers as potential mothers (the need for parental leave, desire for flexible work options or job sharing, etc.), and foster a supportive work environment. By implementing these interventions, girls and women are anticipated to be attracted to science and engineering as fields of study and employment, and more apt to remain in these fields. Certainly the elimination of obstacles produced by attitudinal barriers and structural barriers are a good start for improving the status of women in engineering. These measures are aimed at enlarging the pool of talent from which to draw engineers (Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991; Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 1992). However, this approach to the under-representation of women in science only solves part of the problem. Feminist critiques of science and technology have challenged the supposed gender neutral and objective nature of the institution of science and technology. Whereas early criticisms focused on structural barriers as a source of gender inequality and under-representation; other critiques have questioned the nature of science and technology itself by identifying its ideological and sociological components (Keller, 1985, 1989; Harding, 1989; Longino, 1989; Wajcman, 1991; Morse, 1995). Science and technology have come under close scrutiny for their portrayal as a value-free, objective activity practised in a cultural, historical, social, political, economic, and philosophical Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 22 vacuum. Rather, science and technology should be regarded as a socially constructed activity producing knowledge and products relevant to those who have traditionally defined the practice of science and technology and what constitutes relevant and non-relevant scientific and technical knowledge (Keller, 1989; Longino, 1989; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Wajcman, 1991; Sorensen, 1992). Therefore, the practice of engineering needs to be placed within the historical, economic, philosophical, and ideological context in which it takes place. In her discussion of science as a cultural institution and practice, Longino (1989: 47) suggests that "we focus on science as a practice rather than content, as process rather than product," because "doing science involves many practices." Examples she cites are how one structures a laboratory (hierarchically or collectively), or how one relates to other scientists (competitively or cooperatively). Science as a practice recognizes personal, social and cultural values (contextual values) of those involved in science on the process and practice of scientific inquiry. A similar argument can be made in the case of engineering. Thus, the practice of engineering acknowledges contextual values of engineers on the process of doing engineering or work styles. The majority of feminist critiques have focused on the practice of science, and argue that science displays a bias towards a masculine perception of the world and a male way of knowing, characterized by a mechanistic view of the world, an emphasize on control, mastery, domination, and a sense of separation between the subject and object of study (Keller, 1989; Longino, 1989; Wajcman, 1991; Sorensen, 1992). What is considered factual or not, which scientific problems are studied and which ones are not, and what kind of scientific knowledge is focused on, produced, and valued is seen as a social product, and relative to particular social interests. Similarly, in the case of engineering, the gendered nature of engineering may evidence itself in the kind of technology pursued and produced, the types of engineering projects pursued, the way projects are approached and carried out, or the chosen solution amongst alternatives. Some critiques argue that women's experiences and social interests and values have thus far been excluded from the domain of science and technology (Longino, 1987; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Wajcman, 1991; Morse, 1995). Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 23 o Characteristics of the practice of science mentioned above correspond to the characteristics identified with the ideology of masculinity (Keller, 1983, 1989; Wajcman, 1991). Likewise, because of the historical predominance of men in the field of technology, technology is argued to be reflective of masculine characteristics and in pursuit of masculine interests. The masculinity of technology, however, is as much a social product as the identification between technical competence and the male gender role (Wajcman, 1991). Hence, the gendered nature of technology means that this nature can be negotiated or redefined. The traditional identification of technology as masculine and between technical competence and the ideological male role has served to exclude women from the domain of technology. In opposition to values associated with masculinity and technology such as rationality and objectivity are those associated with femininity such as nurturance and emotion. Longino (1989) and Wajcman (1991) point out how this socially constructed dichotomy contributes to the subordination of feminine values to those associated with the ideological male role (see also Keller, 1989). Furthermore, because of the socially and culturally constructed association between masculinity and technology, women historically have been perceived lacking in what it takes to contribute to the technical world. Some argue, however, that because of these gender differences women may have a different perspective to offer science and technology, and that women have a different way of approaching science and technology based on moral, cognitive, and emotional differences. This 'difference model' speculates that when women engage in science, or engineering, they may bring different work and thought styles to the process (Keller, 1983; Harding, 1989; Sorensen and Berg, 1987; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Sorensen, 1992). This hypothesis is partly based on psychological theories of gender and gender development. The view that an increased number of women in the profession will change the nature and image of engineering stems from the belief that women will introduce nurturing and social values because of different and gendered socialization experiences and practices (Chodorow, 1978; Gilligan, 1982; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule, 1986). These differences are Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 24 theorized to result in different ethics, orientations, and values. The notion that women do different science correlated to different ways of knowing has been explained through psychoanalytic theory. Chodorow's (1974, 1978) work suggests that within a social structure in which women are the universal parent primarily responsible for childrearing a crucial differentiating experience in male and female development results. The experience of the early social environment differs for women and men leading to the development of sex differences in personality. The primary caretakers in most cultures are women. Thus, the relationship between the primary caretaker and girls is one of identification, similarity and connection, whereas the relationship between the primary caretaker and boys is one of difference, otherness, and separation. Chodorow suggests the "socialization of girls by women ensures the production of feminine personalities founded on relation and connection, with flexible rather than rigid ego boundaries" and that "the feminine personality comes to define itself in relation to and connection to other people more than the masculine personality does" (Chodorow, 1974:44). Girls understand their world and their experiences from a position characterized by a relational cognitive style focused on attachment and caring, while boys create an understanding of their experiences and their world from a perspective based on their early experience of separation and individuation from his primary caretaker leading to an analytical cognitive style. Further gendered socialization continues to support and produce these gendered relations to objects and reality. As a result, boys and girls form different relationships that set a pattern for understanding their relation to objects in their worlds in future experiences (Chodorow, 1978). Others have extended Chodorow's work to argue for gender differences in moral development between boys and girls resulting in gendered moral reasoning (Gilligan, 1982), and different, gendered ways of knowing (Menkel-Meadow, 1985, 1987, 1989; Belenky et al., 1986). These approaches suggest that there are different ways of knowing on the basis of sexual differences in cognitive, emotional, and moral styles. This approach means that there are different possible conceptions of technology, the purpose of technology, and relations to Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 25 technology that people can form. This would support the notion that women are capable of producing different technological knowledge and technological innovations, and approach engineering differently. Sorensen (1992) draws on the concepts of empathy and rationality of responsibility1 in Norwegian feminist writings on women and research. He summarizes the gist of the Norwegian feminist viewpoint that "women are more inclined to include reproductive considerations; they have a caring, other-oriented relationship to nature and to people, an integrated, more holistic and less hierachical world-view, a less competitive way of relating to colleagues and a greater affinity to users" (Sorensen, 1992:10). Thus, women engineers are argued to be diffusion agents of values thus far unexpressed in technology. Carter and Kirkup (1990) contend that a feminist model of engineering first "requires the re-examination of fundamental assumptions on which engineering has been built, and second it requires an acknowledgment of non-objectivity on the part of the engineer" (See Appendix A). Women are anticipated to bring caring and nurturing values to engineering, and a cooperative, interactive approaches, values, and orientations associated with the ideal female gender role. Morse (1995) draws on the concept of difference feminism. Difference feminism is founded on the idea that as people's experiences vary by gender so do men and women's science, or in this case technology, experiences. Morse writes, Some of the attributes that women are said to share are described as caring for and relating well to others, thinking intuitively, exhibiting an openness to emotionality, and tending to cooperate rather than to compete. The basic premise of "difference" feminism ... is that such "women's" attributes, though long relegated to the unimportant domain of the weaker sex, are in fact at least an equal and perhaps a much more highly developed and valuable set of characteristics than traditional male traits such as dominance and stoicism (Morse, 1995:21). One important point is that difference feminism continues a historical trend of a moral and social elevation of women above men. Morse (1995:23) quotes Pollitt on this point: 'Rationality of responsibility consists of four elements: (1) identification with the well-being of others (2) consideration of the consequences of one's actions to others (3) taking responsibility for the consequences of one's action and changing one's behaviour accordingly and (4) acceptance of non-reciprocity. Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 26 Although it is couched in praise, difference feminism is demeaning to women. It asks that women be admitted into public life and discourse not because they have the right to be there but because they will improve them ... why should the task of moral and social transformation be laid on women's doorsteps and not everyone's Furthermore, others have expressed concern about this move towards uncritically embracing values that have traditionally been socially constructed as feminine and the identification of feminist science and technology with the ideal female role (Longino, 1989; Keller, 1989; Wajcman, 1991; Morse, 1995). A continued emphasis on differences reinforces and perpetuates traditional gender role stereotypes and gender inequality. Technology should be treated as a culture while engineering is a cultural practice subject to power and status issues. Therefore, women's status and progress in engineering should be explored within the context of gendered social structure, power relations, and opportunity structures in engineering and society. Wajcman (1991:158) draws on the example of the history of computer programmers and notes that the first computer programmers were women because the work was regarded as "tedious clerical work of low status." However, with the recognition of the complexity and value of programming the work it became redefined as creative and intellectual and, furthermore, demanding 'men's work.' Therefore, she writes, "depending on the circumstances, different cognitive styles may be characterized as 'masculine' or 'feminine' according to the power and status that attaches" (Wajcman, 1991:158). Differences in cognitive style and the definition of what constitutes masculinity and femininity, then, are a product of gender inequalities in power and subject to constant social and cultural reinterpretation (Wajcman, 1991). Although there can be no doubt certain values have dominated the way in which science and engineering are done, meriting the presence of women in these fields based on their contribution of a distinctive cognitive style and feminine values ignores the socially constructed nature of these ideal gender roles and behaviour.2 2It should also be noted in speaking of the masculine nature of technology and women's ways of knowing that experiences vary not only according to gender, but according to other demographics such as ethnicity, age, and class producing different versions of masculinity and femininity (Wajcman, 1991). Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 27 Consequently, Longino (1989) draws the distinction between doing science as a feminist and the difference model which espouses that science and engineering done by women will be different because of women's distinctive and inherent ways of knowing and understanding. Doing science as a feminist, she claims, entails a social and political responsibility and choice while pursuing the abstract goal of understanding in science (Longino, 1989:54-5). In the case of engineering, this translates into a social and political responsibility for designs and a correspondence between social and political beliefs and the technology produced. Technology is a form of social knowledge, practices, and products. Technology is not just driven by objective or rational technical imperatives. Political, social, and economic choices and interests lie embedded in the design and selection of technology (Wajcman, 1991; Longino, 1989). The sociology of technology deals with these issues. As Wajcman points out, Technologies result from a series of specific decisions made by particular groups of people in particular places at particular times for their own purposes. As such, technologies bear the imprint of the people and social context in which they are developed. The sociological approach ... attempts to show the effects of social relations on technology that range from fostering or inhibiting particular technologies, through influencing the choice between competing paths of technological development, to affecting the precise design characteristics of particular artifacts (Wajcman, 1991:22-23). Therefore, technology can be regarded as the result of conflicts and compromises, in which the outcomes are a reflection of the distribution of power and resources between different groups in society (Wajcman, 1991). The engineering work environment and the culture of engineering are a similar reflection of the distribution of power and resources between different groups. As noted by Sorensen, one of the attractions and benefits of feminist critiques of science and technology is that it creates the possibility for alternatives (Sorensen, 1992). Recognizing the culture of technology and the process of technology as a social process means recognizing technology as another area in which women struggle to attain equal power and status like any other social institution and process in society. Nevertheless, the question remains whether women in engineering will mean alternative styles of engineering. Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 28 2.4.2 Alternative styles of engineering: Prior findings Wil l women in engineering bring alternatives styles of engineering to the profession? As pointed out by Sorensen (1992), the possibility of alternative styles of work and thought has mainly been argued through abstract reasoning with reference to psychological theories, while little empirical work has examined this issue. However, the few studies that have begun this exploration are focused on the world of science. One important and insightful exception is Sorensen's study (1992) on the translation of gendered values and whether there is a gendered perspective producing different technological results and ways of doing things in regard to objectives, priorities, and work methods. He posits that on a theoretical level women's approach to research and design reflects a caring, other-oriented relationship toward nature and people, an integrated more holistic and less hierarchical world view, a less competitive way of relating to colleagues and a greater affinity to users. This dualistic thinking represents an ideal type in contrast to stereotyped masculine values highlighted by feminist critiques of science (e.g., domination of nature, objedification of research, competitiveness, hierarchical authority structures). However, Sorensen discusses the problem of translation of gendered values into physical characteristics of a technological product. This can be extended to the process through which technology is created, i.e., such as the work culture of engineering organizations. It is worthwhile to consider the three stages Sorensen identified as involved in the process of translating values into technology: (1) The translation of general values into general techno-political values. (2) The translation of general techno-political values into norms, preferences and/or design criteria. (3) The translation of value based norms, preferences and design criteria into specific problem solving in a given specific situation, relating norms, preferences and design criteria to concrete technology. Sorensen makes the point that we cannot assume that values are applied in an explicit and rational manner as criteria in a well ordered situation of technological choice; instead the problem of implementation and translation would indicate that the argument of alternative styles Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 29 of engineering based on caring values is overly optimistic. Sorensen (1992) points out that in order to be successful in science it is still necessary to ascribe to its dominant ideology. He posits that throughout their education and employment in engineering, women and men are socialized in such a manner which eliminates or minimizes differences in terms of caring values. He concludes that this "secondary socialization" process, through which masculine values are still promoted in science, may explain why the gender differences in terms of caring values in his study did not translate into work norms and preferences. Rather than transforming the profession, women engineers may instead conform or switch to sub-fields of engineering which are closer to their interests or in which they feel more comfortable. As a result, gender differences in values and particular socio-political views may not find translation into work practice norms, routines and preferences due to the way the profession is structured and organized (Sorensen, 1992). He found that Norwegian female engineering students claim to be more interested in social issues and potential usefulness of technology and less interested in future career interests suggesting that caring values are more relevant to the female than the male students. Furthermore, female students were slightly more care-oriented in terms of techno-political values indicating that although the selection process may weaken the importance and relevance of caring values it does not eliminate them. At the same time, however, he also concluded that junior R & D scientists support the claim of 'no difference' between men and women. Sorensen further observed gender differences regarding disciplinary choices and speculates this may be an expression of caring values, but argues further research is needed to establish the source of these gender differences. Consequently, he argues that perhaps masculine values have less effect than previously argued by numerous authors in the area of the sociology and philosophy of science and technology. This, however, seems unlikely given the view of technology as a social institution in a patriarchal society. Instead, it would be quite possible that the problem of the translation and implementation of values concerns those who are outside the social boundaries and definitions of the present culture of technology and engineering workplace culture. Another point to note is that Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 30 engineers may personally negate the translation of values in their daily work behaviour. Thus, uncovering no differences in the recorded perceptions of students and junior engineers toward technology may not mean that gender differences do not exist. Continued work experience may also lead to a change in perceptions and views. Differences in work styles and values, for example, may not be evident until several years of work experience. The first years as an engineer are spent learning about the work. It is possible that to realize different styles and values one has to first experience the cultural practice and content of engineering in the work environment. Women's interests in career prospects may also grow once in the workplace. Another related study that examined the possibility of gender differences in work and thought styles is Sorensen and Berg's survey study (1987) regarding the gendered nature of technology. Similar to Sorensen's (1992) findings, they conclude the small differences between Norwegian female and male engineering students with regard to masculine and feminine values in their study do not support the idea of alternative styles challenging what they refer to as the "hegemonous" value system. Instead, they suggest that presently the hegemonous styles of work and thought will be reproduced through the existing selection and socialization processes in education and the workplace. However, these findings are based on students' perceptions and, as the authors note themselves, findings regarding alternative work and thought styles might have been different had they surveyed graduates in the engineering work force and their work experiences. Mcllwee and Robinson (1989, 1991, 1992) have studied the culture of engineering, and the occupational status, experience, and attitudes of female and male engineers in Southern California through fixed-choice questionnaires and some Open-ended interviews. They use a structural and interactional perspective to understand the difference in occupational status between American men and women engineers despite comparable levels of education and work experiences. In contrast to Sorensen's (1992) findings, Mcllwee and Robinson found work-related values of the women and men to be quite similar. Their study did not focus on alternative, gendered styles of engineering in terms of the practice and content of engineering, but it did Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 31 highlight the social structure of the engineering workplace and the culture of engineering. Their data suggest that gendered characteristics are a factor in the different career patterns of men and women engineers. For example, they discuss the importance of interactional resources such as assertiveness and confidence, and found women in their study appear to have lower levels of assertiveness and confidence, which represent significant resources for career success. They further noted that the social structure, power relations, and opportunity structures in engineering are imbued with a male-identified culture and work model in which success is achieved through behavioural styles and values conforming to the male gender role (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1989, 1991, 1992). Carter and Kirkup (1990) interviewed thirty-seven women engineers from the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom with regard to their working and personal lives to learn how gender manifests itself in engineering, how it is perpetuated and how this affects work and private experiences of women engineers. They found several interesting results. Many of the women had avoided considering the gendered nature of the work and the workplace and how it would affect them. They also examined to what extent women have been socialized into the masculine culture and its value system or retain feminine value systems, thus, bringing a different perspective to traditionally masculine work. The authors suggest that there is some support for the idea that women bring different values and attributes to engineering, but point out the difficulty of separating myths about gendered behaviour from actual behavioural patterns. Those engineers that did think there were differences in work and thought styles only referred to stereotypical behavioural differences such as better writing skills and different interactional skills. They did not, however, find that the women were adopting different attitudes to technology in general, even though some of the women made their disciplinary choice based on personal and political values. The women regarded the technological progress that engineering accomplishes as positive, while identifying bad management, and ill-judgements of politicians and the public as the cause for problems. A final interesting note is their observation of the women engineers' tendency to distinguish Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 32 between technical and political issues. Although they addressed the relevance of values to work experiences, this constituted only part of their study which examined what paths led these women to engineering and how the women engineers combined their personal lives with their professional lives. Unfortunately, as male engineers were not part of the study, this research lacked a comparison between men and women's experiences of the relevance of values to their engineering work. Thus, we still do not know the full picture about the possibility of alternative styles of engineering and the role women may play in the process of change in the practice and content of engineering. In a recent study, Morse (1995) surveyed 46 men and 87 women i n science in the U.S.A and abroad via the internet and through personal conversations about their perceptions of the changing field of science, and women's place in it. She gathered information from the men and women who responded to the questionnaires posted to relevant computer groups, and numerous other sources established in a non-random manner. In the chapter devoted to exploring the hypothesis of whether women do science differently she predicts that women will contribute significantly toward a move away from current characteristics of science such as competition and intimidation towards an appreciation of a more supportive and cooperative work model. As to whether women will bring a distinctly different culture to science research leading to different science, Morse briefly summizes that there was support for and against this premise. She reports only two responses of women who discuss how they view their approach as more holistic. One of the women is a chemical engineer who feels that her holistic approach to science spills over to her approach to environmental cleanup, interaction with the public, and her priorities. However, Morse's exploration of the difference factor is mainly focused on differences in work styles rather than the content of science. Furthermore, only a few of the respondents appear to be engineers. Thus, the insights into support for alternative work and thought styles refer to research in science rather than technology and engineering work. Smith Keller (1992) contrasts the nature of the two by writing that technology and science differ in that the latter is about discovering and explaining while the former is about designing and making. Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 33 Technology is about coping with needs for food, shelter, health, communication and so forth in a practical way, by reasoning about available or possible materials and by using that reasoning to design and make practical objects, including tools used to make new materials, objects and tools (Smith Keller, 1992: 24). It is interesting to note, as Smith Keller does, that these activities concerning food, shelter, and health traditionally have been viewed as domestic and thus, women's work, and responsibilities. Prior findings do not clearly support either the alternative style model or the no difference model. One of the problems is the lack of empirical research in this area. Often, studies address these phenomena as part of a larger focus. The studies reviewed here, although related and helpful, lack a specific focus on the issue of alternative styles, and have begun to provide glimpses into the role women may play in the process of change in engineering through alternative work and reasoning styles. Prior research has highlighted the importance of understanding women's experiences in engineering through a cultural and structural perspective, acknowledging the masculine culture with which engineering is imbued. In terms of alternative styles of engineering this means that women who are successful and choose to stay in the field may therefore not change the face of engineering, since they ascribe to the prevalent value system in their daily routines and types of projects. Thus, even though some engineers may have a particular socio-political view on the role and purpose of technology, these techno-political values may not translate into work norms and preferences due to the way the profession is structured. The question now becomes how much power, resource or agency individual engineers require to change the way their work is designed and implemented. Related to this is whether engineers have the ability to do engineering differently within the structural limitations of their profession or particular work environment. How much freedom do engineers have to organize their workdays and projects or even types of projects within their work environment? If "secondary socialization" occurs, this indicates the continued necessity to absorb masculine values to succeed in non-traditional professions (Sorensen and Berg, 1987; Sorensen, 1992). The Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 34 implication is a "no difference" stance between the work norms and values of men and women engineers. Therefore, the often cited benefit that an increased number of women wil l change the profession of engineering may not be realistic under the current structure of the engineering work environment and the nature of engineering work. Menkel-Meadow (1985) examined whether increased numbers of women lawyers will transform the practice of law and points out that we do not yet know whether women will transform the practice or themselves when they are found in sufficient numbers. Social research has indicated that those in token numbers may feel strong pressure to conform to the already existing norms of the workplace and to minimize rather than emphasize whatever differences already exist (Page 42). The same question applies to the engineering profession and the effect that increased numbers of women may or may not have. At the same time, the documented differences in relative job status and career advancement mentioned earlier should be kept in mind. Women engineers who do advance into higher ranked positions with supervising and management responsibilities do not attain the level of professional responsibility at the same rate as men. It is questionable how much transformative potential and power women engineers have when they remain largely concentrated in lower ranked jobs which do not yield autonomy, power, or resources essential for effecting change. Thus, it is possible that the technological interests and values pursued would not change even with more female representation in scientific and technological institutions (Wajcman, 1991; Sorensen, 1992). The nature and the structure of power and gender relations in these institutions may need to change for women to be able to produce scientific and technological knowledge valuable to them. Although some differences in the values held by men and women engineers have been documented, the process by which these differences in ways of knowing and value orientations are translated into engineering practices or to what extent has not been determined in the research literature to date. The question is whether different choices reflecting different values will be Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 35 made when a greater number of women are involved in the decision-making process. Do women engineers approach their engineering work with different priorities and values thereby producing different technological knowledge? Do they feel they are able to approach their work in a different way? The increasing presence of women is anticipated to bring change to the organization of the workplace in the form of parental leaves, flexible work hours, and tele-commuting. Change is also anticipated in the culture of the workplace, both its male defined work patterns and its masculine-oriented styles of interaction and communication. Gendered work behaviour is anticipated to introduce more social and nurturing values and more cooperative work styles into the practice of engineering. However, the assumption that increased numbers of women engineers will change the profession may underestimate the barrier to change and expression of different perspectives posed by the structure of the profession, workplace culture, conditions for success and career advancement, and current values and assumptions in the profession. 2.5 Conclusion In summary, no conclusive support can be established from prior related studies regarding either the 'no difference' stance or the supposition of alternative styles. Not enough is known about the work styles and thoughts of women and men engineers to establish whether women engineers hold different perspectives, approach engineering differently, or feel the need to transform the profession. Also poorly known is whether they feel the need to adapt to the work culture in order to succeed and whether they choose to specialize in particular sub-fields of engineering because of a closer correspondence to their value orientations. Therefore, the first issue concerns the career choices of women and men. In particular, are disciplinary choices within engineering partially an expression of different values and views as suggested by some of the research (Sorensen and Berg, 1987; Sorensen, 1992)? The second topic concerns the work experiences of men and women engineers and career aspirations and prospects including potential reasons for leaving the field. Are there differences between the men and Theoretical Perspectives and Recent Research 36 women in this regard? The third question is the impact that women engineers may have on the profession. Wil l an increasing number of women in the field of engineering will make a difference to the image of the field, the practice of engineering, and the kind of engineering done by bringing in more social and nurturing values? A final issue of importance is the potential impact on women engineers of being in a male-dominated and defined profession. To understand the "transformatory potential" of women engineers and the process of change one needs to develop a better understanding of the work experiences of engineers, the role of values on work behaviour, and the translation of values into work behaviour. This study aims to contribute to this understanding. Before turning to engineers' perceptions regarding these issues, Chapter Three first details the methodology employed to obtain these insights and perceptions. 37 CHAPTER 3 R E S E A R C H D E S I G N 3.1 Introduct ion Chapter Two reviewed the theoretical perspectives regarding the theorized and anticipated role women engineers may play in the process of change in the practice and content of engineering. It also noted the lack of empirical research regarding these phenomena. This qualitative study explores the potential for alternative styles of engineering through the documentation and interpretive analysis of the work behaviour and experiences of twenty men and twenty women engineers. The study employs a qualitative research design to determine how men and women engineers approach and practice engineering to understand whether gendered or alternative styles of engineering exist and will lead to change within the practice or content of engineering or the engineering work environment. Work experiences are further reviewed to examine whether gendered work behaviour produces gendered work experiences. This chapter details the process of data collection, the selection criteria for the interviewees, the design of the interview guide, and the techniques of data analysis. Women engineers carry a heavy burden: the responsibility for effecting change in their profession, which is expected to make the profession more attractive to other women. Numerous reports on the status of women in engineering exist, typically dealing with the issue of increasing the number of girls and women in science and engineering, and documenting work experiences (Ontario Advisory Council on Women's Issues, 1991; Industry, Science and Technology Canada, 1991; Canadian Committee in Women in Engineering, 1992; National Advisory Board on Science and Technology, 1993). These reports also relate accounts of sexual harassment and describe the structural barriers maintaining the "glass ceiling" in the engineering workplace. These accounts document the low numbers of women in engineering, discrimination, and Research Design 38 tokenism. Yet, little is known about work experiences of Canadian engineers, more specifically, their views regarding gender differences in work behaviour. As noted in the preceding chapter, theories and literature related to this issue explore the potential that women will change the profession by introducing more social and nurturing values. This has been argued through social psychological theories on gender, gendered socialization, and different ways of knowing (Chodorow, 1978; Gilligan, 1982; Menkel-Meadow, 1985; Sorensen; 1992). The premise of these theories is that men and women form different relations to others and the world and form different social realities which would apply to women's views and way of relating to technology and, consequently, influence work behaviour. Yet, few qualitative studies have been conducted to explore the work behaviour of Canadian men and women engineers and the importance of personal values and characteristics in relation to work behaviour. Existing studies are mostly American, British, or Norwegian and focus on engineering students, differences in values rather than work behaviour, job satisfaction, or the quantitative analysis of gender distribution among different professions and different areas of specialization within engineering (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1989, 1991, 1992; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Watson and Meiksins, 1991; Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991; Sorensen, 1992; ). Thus, the literature on this phenomenon consists of hypotheses derived from theories on gender and socialization. The question of whether women will change engineering or be changed by the profession is still a subject of considerable debate. Current understanding on how the process of women's increasing presence in engineering will affect the work environment and work experiences is theoretical with relatively few studies exploring such issues as: what this means to engineers, their views on the role women play in engineering as possible agents of change, or their perception of the relevance of their own personal values or views to their engineering work. Therefore, a qualitative mode of inquiry is a useful method to gather engineers' insights regarding the idea of gendered ways of doing engineering. Prevailing ideas and assumptions in the literature from prior studies will be compared with the views of Canadian men and women engineers regarding work behaviour and experiences. The qualitative design is Research Design 32 well suited for the intent of this study and the exploration of theoretical ideas. As well, the study examines whether engineers' experiences and views echo prevailing theoretical ideas with regard to alternative styles of engineering on the basis of gendered work and thought styles. This study builds on the few prior qualitative studies related to this topic. Ideas derived from these studies were used in the design of the interview schedule (Whalley, 1986; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Watson and Meiksins, 1991; Wharton and Baron, 1991; Sorensen, 1992; Mcllwee and Robinson, 1992; Brockman, 1995). The comparison of work behaviour and experiences of men and women engineers in Canada adds to our understanding of the transformatory potential of women engineers or gendered, alternative styles of engineering. The analysis of the qualitative data explores whether the argument of the transformatory role of women engineers based on gendered work and thought styles and, consequently, gendered work experiences, holds true under the present culture and social structure of the engineering profession. It explores the idea of alternative styles of engineering and the no difference stance through the perceptions of individuals who constitute the engineering workforce. In doing so, the study builds on and adds to the small body of prior research discussed in the preceding chapter. As mentioned, it also explores the explanatory potential of the theoretical ideas and assumptions of the alternatives styles model and the no difference model. The research goes beyond prior work by examining the views of twenty men and twenty women engineers on how personal characteristics and values, and their gender, influenced their choices within the profession, their work behaviour, experiences, and career progress. This is done through questions directly addressing possible gender differences in work styles such as communication and interactional styles. 3.2 Prior experiences This study stems from a continuing interest in the changing roles of women, in particular in non-traditional settings such as engineering. The interest dates back to time spent working for the Televised Instruction Program in the College of Engineering during undergraduate studies at Research Design 40 the University of California, Berkeley between 1989 and 1991. This work experience brought me into contact with the gendered environment of engineering. During that time I learned more about the gendered experiences of engineering students through interviews for an undergraduate paper "Gender Dynamics in the College of Engineering" co-written with a fellow student for a Social Psychology course (Sutch and VanBeers, 1991). In particular, the paper highlighted some of the coping mechanisms through managed presentations of the self by female undergraduate students in engineering, and the tension experienced as a result of the conflict between the seemingly mutually exclusive roles of one's gender identity and one's identity as an engineering student. The insight into the gendered nature of engineering and gendered educational experiences combined with an interest in women's status in the workforce accounts for the motivation for the present study on gendered work experiences, and the change women may produce in the engineering profession. Before commencing this study, I met the coordinator of the Joint Project for Women in Engineering at the University of British Columbia, Sarah Dench, who provided many useful suggestions and initial contacts. In the Fall of 1993,1 attended the annual meeting of D A W E G , the Division for the Advancement of Women Engineers and Geoscientists, in Vancouver. This provided the opportunity to learn more about issues for working engineers and to begin making contacts. My awareness of workplace issues for engineers and the nature of the efforts to increase the status of women in engineering was raised. These issues were kept in mind in the design and focus of the study. Two conferences were attended, Women in Engineering Update: More than Just Number Numbers and the 6th Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science and Technology, which took place in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Both conferences dealt with the status of women in engineering and issues of continued importance to both the integration of women in engineering and increasing the number of women in engineering. Attending the conferences added to my understanding of the engineering workplace environment and the experiences of women engineers. In particular, it illustrated how common some of the issues mentioned by the women engineers interviewed for this study are in the Research Design 41 engineering workplace. 3.3 T H E R E S E A R C H D E S I G N 3.3.1 Data Collection The study mainly involves a qualitative method of inquiry. Forty semi-structured interviews with engineers (twenty men and twenty women) were conducted. The interviews included a short questionnaire. Approval from the University of British Columbia Behavioural Sciences Screening Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects was obtained prior to the recruitment of participants (see Appendix B). Participants were recruited in a non-random manner, using a snowball sampling design, a method which uses suggestions or referrals from previous participants for locating participants (Patton, 1990). This chain referral system was relied on to collect names of people who might be interested in the study and willing to participate. Initial referrals were started on the basis of a list of names provided by a pre-established contact person, someone acquainted with many engineers in the Vancouver area through her work on the status of women in engineering. Further referrals were obtained from these initial participants. Patton (1990) defines information-rich cases as individuals who are considered particularly informative of the issues central to the study. The initial participants in this study can be considered information-rich cases as they were familiar to the contact person as a result of her involvement in the promotion of women in engineering and, thus, themselves active in this area. Additional referrals were obtained by asking for suggestions of other people who might be interested in the subject and willing to participate. Many of the female participants were in some way involved in the promotion of women in engineering, and, as such, more conscious and reflective of the issues under study. The selection of participants was limited to engineers who had worked in engineering for at least two years, who were presently residing or working in the Vancouver area, and who were currently in full-time employment positions. The intent of the study is to explore the possibility Research Design 42 of the introduction of alternative styles of engineering with an increasing number of women in the profession based on participants' perceptions and work experiences. Thus, a minimum of two years working in the field of engineering was imposed to ensure participants had been in the workforce long enough to experience and adjust to the work environment. Because of the size of the sample, the maximum work experience of participants would preferably not have exceeded seventeen years to keep the sample more homogeneous. However, one participant exceeded this limit. Nonetheless, this participant was recommended and considered informative on the topic in part due to the many years of work experience and an active role in the professional engineering organization. Thus, with the exception of one case, the range of work experience spanned fifteen years. Table 6 shows the variation in the length of time in the workforce by sex. Table 6. Years of work experience by sex Women Men I- 5 5 6 6-10 6 9 II- 15 7 4 16-25 2 1 Part-time employment would further differentiate participants in terms of status and authority, and were excluded from the sample. The sample was also limited to engineers who reside or work in the Vancouver area because of the difficulty traveling outside of Vancouver providing a focus on a metropolitan centre and head offices of many firms employing engineers. Potential participants were first contacted by an introductory letter explaining the purpose of the study, what participation entailed, the voluntary nature of participation, and the rights of the participant (see Appendix C). A consent form (see Appendix D) in accordance with University of British Columbia Policy on research involving human subjects, was enclosed with the introductory letter. This was followed by a phone call approximately one week later to solicit approval for participation. At that point a date and time was scheduled for an interview. Signed consent forms were collected at the beginning of each interview. As mentioned the sample was heterogeneous with regard to participants' job Research Design 43 responsibilities and length of time in the profession. Since the amount of autonomy and supervision given or received is dependent on job title and years in the company, this may shape work behaviour and the ability to translate personal values and characteristics into work behaviour. Differences in the structural organization between companies was also an issue. Mcllwee and Robinson (1990) found differences in the work culture and work experiences of women engineers within different companies involved- in different areas of research. Heterogeneity in size and organization of companies may lead to differences in experience. However, the object of the project is to examine whether men and women engineers exhibit differences in work behaviour and is exploratory in nature. Furthermore, despite limitations choosing the nature of the sample presented for the analysis, common patterns that emerged out of the heterogeneous sample were regarded as valuable in the sense that they reflected participants' shared experiences and views (Patton, 1992). The objective was the documentation of possible gender differences in work behaviour and experiences, which means that the study is descriptive rather than explanatory. Furthermore, the demographics of the forty engineers varied little by sex. The majority of the interviewees (16 women, 15 men) reported being married. Ages ranged between 26 and 50 with over half of the sample falling in the 31 to 35 category. Seven disciplinary fields within engineering were cited. Table 7 shows the number of men and women in the different disciplines. Table 7 Fields of employment within engineering by sex Women Men Civil 5 3 Mechanical 2 6 Chemical 1 0 Electrical 3 4 Environmental 5 4 Structural 2 3 Geological 2 0 Twenty-eight of the engineers (15 women and 13 men) held a bachelor's degree, while 4 women and 5 men had obtained a master's degree. One of the men held a Ph.D., and the remaining two engineers (1 woman, 1 man) had obtained an M.B .A . A l l but six of the interviewees (1 woman, 5 men) carried the status of professional engineer. 3.3.2 The Interview The interviews began during the last week of November, 1994, and continued through the second week of February, 1995, with a three week interruption due to the winter holidays during which time many of the engineers were unavailable. The interviews took place either at the participant's home during their spare time or at the participant's office during work hours, lunch hours, and outside of work hours. Interviews lasted between forty minutes and two hours, and, with the permission of participants, were tape-recorded. One interview could not be recorded because of a malfunctioning of the tape recorder. Instead, detailed notes were taken throughout the interview to record responses. A l l the tapes were transcribed with the average length of interview being ten single-spaced typed pages. These verbatim transcriptions were used as the basis for a content analysis. The tapes were destroyed after the completion of the thesis to assure anonymity. Identities were kept anonymous in the study through the omission of the names of participants in any written material. Instead, participants were identified by an assigned number (1-40), their sex (male - female) and their work experience broken down by a range of years (1-5, 6-10, 11-15, >15). The age and the field of the engineering of the participant were not transcribed, because it would reveal too much identifying information. Interviews were loosely structured with a combination of interviewing strategies used within each session. The interviews were a composition of a standardized open-ended interview format and an informal conversational interview format. The interview consisted of a standardized open-ended format through the use of carefully worded questions (see Appendix E). The ideas in the questionnaire were inspired by and drawn from questionnaires used in related studies including studies on women in other non-traditional occupations (Whalley, 1986; Jagacinski, 1987; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Watson and Meiksins, 1991; Wharton and Baron, Research Design 45 1991; Robinson and Mcllwee, 1992; Sorensen, 1992; Brockman, 1995). Questions were raised about a variety of aspects of participants' career choices and work experiences. This included job satisfaction, reflections on prior and future career choices, goals on a professional and personal level, their likes and dislikes about engineering, the culture of the work environment, how one's gender influences work behaviour, work experiences, and the nature of engineering work. Questions also addressed the changing definition of the roles of engineers, participant's definitions of what makes a good engineer and views on the role of engineering in society, and changes they would like to see in the profession. Thoughts and opinions on topics were elicited through a series of questions addressing the same theme by posing a question in a variety of ways. Some questions were repeated in the questionnaire section of the interview to provide a source of comparison for responses given during the interview. The same questions were asked in the same order for each participant although throughout the interviewing process minor modifications were made based on continuing improvements of the interview schedule. This standardization facilitated the coding of themes and the process of identifying similarities and differences in the responses to the questions during the data analysis since responses to questions could be compared. Because this standardized interview approach can prevent the expression and exploration of individual differences, the open-ended interview format was combined with an informal conversational interview format. This was done through the use of probes during the interview to follow up on participants' thoughts and motivations, obtaining elaborations and clarifications of responses. This strategy provided the opportunity to pursue ideas and subjects of interest which emerged during the course of the standardized open-ended interview (Patton, 1990). Furthermore, participants had the opportunity to point out issues they considered related and of importance and the interview was concluded with a section allowing for their final comments. The design included prefatory and transitory statements to prepare participants for topical shifts in the focus of segments of questions and to create a logical sense of progression. The interview included a short questionnaire which was filled in at the end of the Research Design 46 interview before final comments were elicited. The reasoning for the inclusion of this short questionnaire was not to quantify, but to provide more general information regarding matters such as job characteristics, job satisfaction, and career plans by quickly polling the participants through fixed-choice questions. The items were based on established scales to measure job autonomy and job satisfaction (Miller, 1991), and prior research into job satisfaction, attitudes toward technology, and career planning, which, as noted, was also drawn on for the design of the interview schedule. No detailed or quantitative analysis was applied to these data. Instead, these data were examined for gender differences similar to the qualitative data and used to provide a context in which to place the qualitative responses to the open-ended interview questions. 3.4 Data Analysis Interview transcripts were printed and coded by hand. A n inductive analysis was applied to the interview data. Thus, patterns based on gender similarities or differences in thematic categories were arrived at through reading the resulting data rather than predetermined prior to the data collection and analysis. Even though the analysis was inductive, the analysis was pre-shaped through the choice of topics addressed in the interview, which was guided by the literature review of recent research and theoretical perspectives relating to the topic of this study. Questions were based on ideas drawn from the literature with the intent to explore engineers' personal thoughts on the relevancy of these ideas and the accuracy of the speculations on the role of women engineers in the process of change in engineering and the possibility of alternative styles of engineering. Sorensen's idea (1992) that choice of sub-specialization can be the expression of gender differences in preferences guided by views and values was explored through a set of questions regarding the motivation behind one's choice of (a) engineering and (b) one's specialty within engineering. The general idea that women are more attuned to the broader perspective which is becoming more important and valued was explored through questioning the personal and professional goals and aspirations of engineers. In light of the decreasing traditional supply of engineers and the attrition rate of women Research Design 47 engineers questions were asked about participants' intent to stay in engineering and for what reasons they consider leaving the profession. To learn what engineers think of the ideas in the literature on the effect of women engineers in the engineering workplace and the notion that they will change the workplace and the task of engineering, questions were posed directly assessing their opinions, ideas, and experiences regarding the topic of alternative styles of engineering. Questions included a comparison of work behaviour, goals, and priorities. A further understanding was sought of the possible effect of gendered work behaviour on the career progress of the twenty women engineers. This was based on the idea in some of the literature that women will change engineering contrasted with other sources questioning whether engineering will change women instead under what is considered its current male dominated and defined culture. The initial analysis of the forty transcripts was conducted through a cross-analysis for each interview question whereby all forty responses to a particular question were compared simultaneously. After this initial reading of the transcripts topical categories were formed by clustering related questions. A cross-topic reading was then done of the responses for themes and ideas to make a gender-based comparison across the forty cases. Thus, initial coding categories were based on the different topical areas addressed in the interview and all data relating to a particular topic were coded and grouped together. Themes and any gender based similarities or differences were explored within these topical categories. The insights gained from these topical categories are presented according to that format in the following chapters. That is, Chapter Four explores the factors that lead men and women to careers in engineering and disciplinary preferences. Chapter Five reviews work experiences, career aspirations and career planning with the intent to explore similarities and differences between men and women. It also explores sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction in relation to career plans such as leaving the profession. Chapter Six documents engineers' perceptions regarding change in the profession and the possibility of alternative styles of engineering. This is accomplished through questions about their role as agents of change and the relevance of values to their day-to-day work. Research Design 48 Themes of respondents were interpreted through a comparison with the ideas and concepts presented in the theoretical perspectives and recent research. The presentational format of the chapters is composed of a combination of participants' quotations and personal interpretation based on the comparison between themes and ideas in the qualitative data and those in the related theories and literature. 3.6 Conclusion With the increasing number of women in engineering, there is a need to learn more about the role of engineers (in particular women), in the process of change in engineering. Despite theoretical perspectives regarding gender differences which may lead to alternatives styles of engineering, little research exists to clarify the role gender differences may play in the process of change in either the practice or content of engineering, or the social structure of the work environment. This lack of empirical research led to the choice of a qualitative design described in this chapter. This exploratory research design allows us to describe the work experiences of forty engineers in their own words. It also offers their interpretations of the reality of alternative styles of engineering through their own reflections of their work experiences. The qualitative study explores the idea that alternative styles of engineering and the presence of women will produce differences in a culture of engineering and a socially structured work environment which traditionally have been male-defined. This exploration is accomplished through in-depth interviews with forty full-time employed engineers in the Vancouver. Chapter Four is the first of three chapters analysing the responses of the engineers. This chapter reviews the motivations for choosing engineering, and disciplinary choices within engineering to explore whether men and women are influenced by similar factors in making these choices. 49 CHAPTER 4 ENGINEERING AS A CAREER CHOICE 4.1 Introduction This chapter documents the motivations behind the career choices of men and women engineers. Although the focus of this study is to explore the possibility of alternative engineering styles and the relevance of gender; there is also a need to learn more about motivations behind career decisions such as disciplinary choices within engineering, employment sectors within the profession, and the nature of employment sought and preferred. This chapter examines engineers' discussion of the paths that led to their careers, their choice of discipline, the type of engineering work, and the relevance of gender to this process. Engineers were asked about disciplinary preferences and what they feel some of the reasons may be for the variation in preferences of men and women engineers. 4.2 Engineering as a Career Choice The literature on women and employment reviewed in Chapter Two noted the vertical sex segregation apparent in the legal, medical, and engineering professions. It further noted the possible negative consequences for women's status in these professions resulting from the concentration of women in a few particular areas of specialization. Examples include their concentration in less prestigious and lower paying fields and jobs with lesser opportunities for advancement, and a possible depreciation as a result of the feminization of particular fields. Little is known as to why women favour particular fields over others, but the aforementioned dangers associated with the ghettoization of women in few fields and the consequent danger of the feminization of those fields make it important to gain a better understanding of the engineers' motivations behind specialization choices of importance. Engineering As A Career Choice 50 It has been suggested that women's preference of particular fields could be a reflection of the association of those fields with nurturing and caring values or a closer correspondence between personal values and views and particular fields. Sorensen and Berg (1987) studied the possibility that the gendered nature of technology may affect disciplinary choices and suggested that gendering may vary across different technological fields. One implication could be that some fields are more masculine than others. Sorensen (1992) suggests that within engineering the choice of discipline, research specialty or department is the best indicator of an individual's preference of subject matter, which is taken to reflect the individual's interests and values. With these insights in mind, engineers were asked why they choose engineering as a profession and their specialization within engineering. Preferences for particular departments such as work settings involving more customer service or which are more people-oriented, versus more purely technical work settings was also considered. Motivations for choosing engineering revealed several similarities among the participants in this study. Common features in the responses of men and women were an interest in math and science, having done well in those subjects at school, and having a practical bent or wanting to pursue a more applied career rather than pure science or math. Other factors cited by both men and women were familiarity with the work engineers do through a parent's job, the perception of good employment opportunities and salaries upon graduation, and employment that would yield a stable and good standard of living. The latter was a factor for a fair number of men (5) and women (4). When I went into engineering, in the early eighties, jobs were pretty tight and it was just the idea of well you'd have a better chance of getting a job and I wanted to get a job so that's why I picked it over going into the sciences like chemistry or biology or something and so it was probably better for that at the time because I did get a job when I graduated (interview 15, female). Other prevalent reasons cited for entering engineering specific to men were a liking for tinkering with objects as a child, building structures, and curiosity as to how gadgets and machines work stemming from childhood. None of the women indicated an interest in tinkering Engineering As A Career Choice 51 with things such as mechanical gadgets etc. during childhood as a motivator for choosing engineering, although two women mentioned finding the idea of leaving something permanent behind appealing. Yet other influencing factors men cited were friends' choices of engineering, lack of interest or ability at English and the erroneous perception that the work did not involve a lot of writing. Two men mentioned the role engineering plays in society and its contribution to society as part of their choice. For example, one of the men explained his choice by saying that he had developed quite an interest in the energy issue and the significant role it played in society. For him, engineering was a way to become involved in this area. Reasons men cited for the choice of particular fields of specialization were an interest in that particular field, better money in some fields, parent in the same field, better knowledge of that particular field compared to other fields, and the perception that the field was broad and therefore would lead to more options. When looking at reasons cited by women for choosing engineering and particular fields within engineering, considerations beyond those offered by the men played a role. In particular, one issue raised was whether participants had considered the functional role the engineering profession plays in society in their educational and professional choice. Although two men mentioned the role engineering plays in society and its benefit to society as a factor in their choice approximately a third of the women (7) discussed this aspect. I particularly wanted to make a difference in the environmental field and, and I, I felt that there were a lot of things that we were doing wrong as a society that should be changed and that I could have a positive impact by going into engineering and having a technical focus (interview 22, female). My initial choice was basically because of math and sciences I think, and my later specialization was views of how technology, that branch of engineering in particular, is helpful to society and the environment (interview 15, female). I think I also saw the value of the profession, definitely. I mean when I do something at work I'm confident that it's positive, it's something that has a value to somebody ... (interview 34, female). Engineering A s A Career Choice 52 Some women (3) mentioned not only the role engineering fulfills in society, but also the desire to be a part of change and influence the direction of growth within engineering and society. That I'd be producing something useful... I liked the idea of getting into engineering because I felt there were a lot of decisions being made by people in positions of knowledge and power and these decisions affect our society. The direction we grow, the things we value and I wanted to become a part of that process, to inject my own ideas and opinions into that decision making ... I felt I had some things to contribute to this decision making process that may not be fully represented in the engineering community (interview 2, female). Like this woman, some women (4) felt they could contribute a different view to engineering. Another woman saw it as an opportunity to break gender stereotypes: I just liked the fact that it was a non-traditional area for women to go into so that appealed to me ... just because I've always disliked stereotypes so I guess I didn't like doing things that were expected as far as, because I was a woman and because I guess because I thought I was as good as any man and didn't like people who thought just because you were a woman you wouldn't be (interview 13, female). For some women (3) gender was an issue in the choice of specialization. Particular sub-fields such as the ones mentioned in the following responses involve more traveling and work in isolated areas. I guess one of the choices between geological and civil was that geological involved an awful lot of field work and I really didn't think that would be as easy for a woman ... in that you'd be traveling more, not as centralized and you have to spend a lot of time out doing exploration i f you wanted to do the kind of geological engineering that I was interested in. So I thought maybe that wouldn't be the best choice in the long run, that civil had a more of a central location to work from (interview 16, female). I was very interested in geological engineering and mining engineering from an intellectual perspective but I made a lifestyle decision there too and decided, and so civil engineering was also a part of a lifestyle decision in that I could do this without having to live in the middle of nowhere. I could probably live in a place where I could get a job that my husband would have a job (interview 39, female). Two women and one man mentioned that the choice of specialization was partially the result of consideration for his partner's employment opportunities. Engineering As A Career Choice 53 Another theme distinguished the men and the women. Several of the women (6) also indicated having sought a position that was people-oriented or expressed the interest in pursuing something that is more people-oriented in the future such as teaching which would allow them to use their engineering background. I know I sought very much to take on tasks that involved people more, people being my staff, and ... our customers ... but I can't say that from day one I knew that... and also staying here ... as opposed to leaving and going into consulting (interview 39, female). I don't do a lot of number crunching ... I deal with a lot of, you end up dealing with a lot of people ... I graduated mainly in structural and I know that I wouldn't have been happy doing that as a job ... Because I would be sitting at a desk, sitting at a computer or a calculator and very little contact with people ... there's kind of, sort of two ways, two kinds of, well one way looking at it is that here's two kinds of engineering. There's soft engineering and there's hard engineering and structural engineering would be more hard engineering, number crunching and where I am now is more soft engineering. Q: "Because it's more to do with providing service to people?" A : Yeah, more service-oriented (interview 38, female). Certain work environments appear more welcoming. One of the women used environmental engineering as an example of a field where women have been more accepted because there is a relatively large number of women in environmental engineering (interview 8). Interestingly enough, she also referred to environmental engineering, a field containing more women than some of the other fields, as 'soft' engineering. The last quote above also drew the distinction between 'hard' engineering (structural engineering) and 'soft' engineering (employment within civil engineering, but that involves interaction with the public and is service-oriented). References to 'hard' and 'soft' engineering were numerous and suggest a hierarchy within engineering between disciplines associated with masculine values and disciplines or job specialties becoming associated with traditionally feminine job tasks such as service and people-oriented. Thus, in the perception of a number of the women (4) interviewed some fields appear more appropriate or accepting. This may in part be due to the appearance that these fields are more congruent with the ideal female gender role within a profession imbued with masculine characteristics and behavioural values in congruence with the ideal male gender role. The Engineering As A Career Choice 54 references also lend support to Wajcman's (1991) observation that work specialties can be culturally and socially redefined as 'masculine' or 'feminine', and the idea that a higher concentration in particular fields can affect such a cultural reinterpretation, and, consequently, a devaluation of such fields (see also Reskin, 1988; Miller-Loessi, 1992). Certain fields within engineering were referred to as 'soft' engineering by both men and women in this study in opposition to 'hard-core' engineering. 'Soft engineering' appears to refer to fields with a relatively higher number of women, fields which can be viewed as more reflective of social concerns such as environmental engineering, or job areas which are more people and service-oriented or community-oriented. While presumably engineering was already stratified before the presence of women, the question here centers around the role the presence of women play in this process. A reasonably question, but one which lies outside of the scope of this study, is the extent to which women have contributed to the solidification of this hierarchy. Literature, however, suggests the presence of women has contributed to the devaluation of fields in which they are disproportionately represented (Reskin, 1988; Miller-Loessi, 1992). As noted in Chapter Two, some also argue that women are more likely to concentrate on the least prestigious or powerful fields in the medical, legal, and engineering profession ( Reskin, 1988; Armstrong and Armstrong, 1992). It may be less difficult for women to gain access and acceptance into the least prestigious fields of a profession first. In some cases particular work environments were considered closed off as an option, because of a recognition of certain environments as more hostile than others or because of lack of job opportunities. I didn't feel I ever had the option of going into the operations end of engineering and I probably today still don't have that ... Because the environment is so hostile to women ... whereas an office environment is quite different and more used to having women around (interview 39, female). Engineering A s A Career Choice 55 I ended up in research mostly, partially because I was interested in it but also because I couldn't find a job in a plant because I was a woman. That was a big factor. I mean I had people tell me that (interview 13, female). Several women (3) related similar experiences while originally looking for employment and the factor that such attitudes regarding gender roles continue to play in shaping careers. Thus, women's disciplinary choices within engineering are made within a wider context of constraints such as the recognition that certain work environments are less hostile, the difficulty of finding work in some work settings, or the potential difficulty of one's partner finding work while living in the remote areas required by certain areas of engineering work. Some of the women (4) further acknowledged a preference for job specialties or areas which entail more social interaction as a factor in their career decisions regarding job settings and specialties. None of the men expressed such preferences as a motivating factor in career decisions regarding job settings or specializations even though two of the men stated that the work is not as satisfying for people with an outgoing personality. They would prefer more opportunities for interaction with other people (e.g., colleagues or clients). Thus, men and women are influenced by many similar factors in their decisions to pursue a career in engineering. Factors such as succeeding in math and science but wanting something more practical, awareness of engineering as a profession, and the expectation of favorable employment opportunities and salaries were most often cited reasons for both men and women. Additional factors behind choices indicate that some women consider other aspects in their educational and career decisions. Concerns about reducing environmental impact and protecting the environment, involvement in shaping society and engineering, work location and traveling surfaced in women's explanations for choices. Few men mentioned these issues. Thus, despite many similarities in motivations for choosing engineering between men and women, the responses of women also suggest some differences. Women's motivations also reflected the view of engineering as an opportunity for women to earn a stable and good income, to break gender stereotypes and act as role models, and to contribute to the direction of change in society and the profession itself. Furthermore, despite Engineering As A Career Choice 56 gender similarities in motivations for choosing engineering, women's responses differed in two significant ways. In particular, the motivations of almost a third of the women for disciplinary choices lend some support to the idea that the choice of specialization reflects personal values. Some of the women's responses further indicate that their choices were influenced by the recognition of gendered social structures and opportunity structures, and the recognition that women's opportunities vary by disciplines. Sorensen and Berg's (1987) postulation that gendering may vary across technical fields is useful in that women did discuss some disciplines as more masculine and used the term "hard' engineering to refer to these disciplines. Thus, within the male-dominated profession certain disciplines or work environments are more difficult to break into or are more male-dominated presenting an additional challenge beyond the experience of entering a male-dominated profession. Engineers were asked what they thought about the variation in preferences and whether they felt there were particular fields for which men and women were best suited or more likely to succeed. The almost unanimous response was that on a technical basis men and women were equally suited. Differing technical ability was rejected as a possible reason for the variation in disciplinary preferences. Eighteen of the men and nineteen of the women thought men and women were equally capable of any of the engineering disciplines. Many of the men (9) could not offer an explanation for the higher representation of women in particular areas such as chemical engineering. One man hypothesized that women are attracted to broader, more rounded disciplines. When I was in university you noticed the ... worst, the lowest attendance was electrical, the highest was chemical and my conclusion on that was women engineers felt electrical engineering was narrow in what you do. It's a very focused discipline. You, you design little computer chips. What do you do 8 hours a day. You just sit right here in front of the computer screen designing computer chips. Who do you talk to? No one. Whereas chemical engineering is one of the broadest. You're dealing with corporations, decision makers, clients. You're dealing with technicians. Not only are you doing technical engineering but you're, you're dealing with, socially dealing with all these other players. So, of that judgment of engineering disciplines I concluded that female engineers are attracted to more, more rounded disciplines. I Engineering As A Career Choice 57 think women like more complete jobs where some males are willing to do highly focused tedium jobs (interview 11, male). However, while several women (3) did mention this as a factor in career choices, a number of men (2) mentioned that upon reflection they would like the work to include more social interaction even though this had not been a consideration in their original career decision or disciplinary choice. The most predominant explanation was that although equally suited for all disciplines on a technical basis, it is harder for women to be successful in certain work environments or in positions of authority because of prevailing prejudices and traditional attitudes. In the industrialized world where you're working with a lot of machine operators and things, people like that... I wouldn't want to be a woman having to deal with some of these guys who have posters of nude women up over their machinery and toolbox. I think there's a definite, I don't know i f people would know that when they're making a choice going into what jobs they're going to take, but I assume if I was a woman and I heard that I wouldn't want to be involved in it (interview 14, male). There are some disciplines of engineering that by their nature tend to encounter more social or other social problems. Social in the sense just, mainly those to do with political, or working in non-conventional settings so mining, to some extent civil engineering and to put women engineers in close contact for supervisory roles over top of individuals who may not be predisposed to listening to a female or force them to live in camp while logging as a home which then puts other social interplay into the mix, things like living in camp for 3 months or longer extended periods. It's not impossible to do, it's just, there's a whole other bunch of combining factors. I think that tends to make it tougher to succeed in some of those areas. I don't think the discipline perse, that there's anything there that, civil, electrical and mechanical don't predispose success for women so ... it's not the nature of the work, it's to do with peripheral aspects of it (interview 40, male). About a quarter of the men (6) recognized that it would be more difficult for women to exert authority and to be in positions of authority in certain work environments. I could understand ... I can see, because there's such a big number of males in design, I could see having a woman in, being a project manager difficult for a lot of those men. Even i f they are strong characters, directive approach and follow a certain path some of it doesn't go over very well with some of the guys. They just don't respond to it so I could see that being more difficult for the ladies ... I could see that being a problem ... I personally would probably in some instances have problems with that. Engineering As A Career Choice 58 Not that I think I should but just, just because, one of these ingrown prejudices I suppose, probably yeah (interview 19, male). A couple of men (2) admitted that they might find it difficult or uncomfortable to work for a woman. Not all men felt women were equally suited to all engineering tasks either: I think women do a great job. However, I do believe nevertheless we are different right, like women have child care responsibilities. So for certain jobs I don't think ladies are as suitable as, as men. For example, to do field surveys, that may or may not be as suitable for females, you know, for lengthy fieldwork in the bush or onto mountain or you know. That's just my personal opinion. I mean not, not to say that ladies can't do it, it's just that they're a little bit different. They have more family responsibilities. They, they usually have to take on more responsibilities I think with the kids and, so they, so I personally wouldn't send female engineers into lengthy fieldwork. Q: "What i f they asked for it?" A : Then I'd do it. I'd let them do it, but it wouldn't be my choice. Q: "Would you check first to see i f they wanted to themselves?" A : If it was my responsibility I would give everybody a fair chance but I would suggest to the, the female engineer, you know, it's up to you, I leave it up to you but I would prefer a man ... I still feel that for certain, certain work, ok, a guy is more appropriate than, than a girl. For the own good of the, of the, the female. You know, nothing against them, nothing personal but I still think that's, I guess just out of caring for the female. I'm not discriminating against them (interview 35, male). It is interesting to note that this preference is in part seen as 'helping' women engineers or in a protective spirit, which could be seen as paternalistic behaviour toward female colleagues. With such a small study, it is difficult to ascertain the role age plays in the attitudes on women engineers in authority or the presence of women in engineering. A general sentiment among engineers was that these attitudes are changing, albeit slowly. Another common belief was that this situation will continue to improve as older engineers retire intimating engineers' belief that age does play a role in shaping attitudes toward women in engineering and in authority. These men's thoughts on disciplines which may be easier for women to succeed in correspond to themes found in earlier responses of women (pages 54-55) with regard to motivations and factors behind disciplinary choices. Several women (3) also recognized the problem which the presence of women in authority continues to pose for a portion of the profession and, for example, people on sites. One of the men remarked that certain disciplines "tend to be more laboratory oriented or office oriented" rather than "brute force engineering" Engineering As A Career Choice 59 (interview 20, male), work environments regarded as less hostile to women than for example a construction site. There's certain environments that I think are, are more friendly to, to non, the non beer drinking loud talking extroverted, the opposites. Engineers have a stereotype. One is the nerds, the other is the boisterous drunken, forge ahead construction type and stereotypes aren't generally useful but I think there's some work environments where people who don't fit into the drinking crowd find it uncomfortable and that applies to both men and women ... there are a lot of work environments where women are excluded based on tradition and a difference in values in the same way that I don't, I don't particularly fit in well in a production environment ... So there's different work, whereas the current environment is much more nerdy, planning is a lot of, and it's also probably differentiation in terms of grades. A lot of the people who would end up in planning would have been the better students. If we're going to play with stereotypes I'm more comfortable with nerd stereotypes ... I would think that, that design or head office work would probably be more suited to both men and women who are not, don't fit into the, the heavy drinking mold or would have, who would have broader interests (interview 17, male). The proportion of women already in a particular field can make a field more attractive and more acceptable for women. I think people are more successful at some fields more than others because of certain conditions that happen. There's a lot of women, environmental engineers, which is viewed kind of as soft engineering as opposed to hard engineering and because it there's more of them they've been more accepted. You're used to seeing a woman in environmental engineering but not a woman mining engineer (interview 8, female). The consideration of the employment opportunities for one's partner were thought to be an issue in disciplinary choices. While several women engineers (3) and one man had cited this as a factor in their personal choice, this was also thought to be a factor in disciplinary choices of other engineers. Also thought relevant by a number of the engineers is the fact that many engineers are married to other professionals. I think that there's large parts of engineering that jobs that don't work for engineers that don't have a spouse or partner with a transportable job ... It would be very difficult for me to work in rural remote place long term because there's no opportunity for X to work and the same applies for, for most women engineers. They tend to marry men with, have partners with challenging jobs and it is harder for them to, ... I think that, just the nature that large parts of engineering is remote, in communities where it's very hard for a family to have 2 interesting jobs implies that Engineering A s A Career Choice 60 there's a life style choice and that engineers who have a partner to stay home with, with the children are more likely to take that sort of opportunity (interview 17, male). Familiarity with particular disciplines was regarded as another influential factor in disciplinary choices. This too had been identified as a factor in personal disciplinary choices by some of the engineers (4 men, 5 women) and, thus, also assumed to be a deciding factor in disciplinary choices of other engineers. Women go into disciplines that appear to be less dirty, less hardcrow kinda stuff, more nurturing, or require more things that they are familiar with like chemical engineering is very big, and environmental and biomedical ... I don't think any gender can be any less successful than the other, i f they are given the opportunity to succeed, or you know, as it is now they make the opportunity, i f they're the type of person who can do that. Some people aren't (interview 1, female). When I was in university more women tended to go into civil engineering and it seemed to be because we understood it well, that we had some experience there be it fathers who were involved in that, mothers occasionally who were involved with some aspects of it or because it seemed to be practical enough that we could sort of see that we could understand it ... I think that, and I'm speaking from my own experience, that for myself it was a matter of a comfort zone. I mean it was pretty uncomfortable going into engineering as a profession, in university as a woman, it was very uncomfortable and to then be also challenging yourself in a profession that might at the time have been uncomfortable because you hadn't had much experience, like I had a basically no exposure to anything in my upbringing to, to the age of 18 to give me any understanding of what an electrical engineer would have done and I use that because that is my most un-understood aspect of engineering for me, whereas I did have a lot of experience in what a civil engineer might do through, through what my mother had done (interview 18, female). If you look at the population of engineers, very few of them may have come from an engineering background so why did they choose engineering and then, you know like I got into civil, didn't know a thing about it I was raised in electrical, I had no idea what civil's do, not a clue and so I got in it, started getting some good marks and sitting there oh it's a whole lot better than the lousy marks I was getting in electrical ... If you're gonna, thinking of an engineering and you're good in math you go into electrical because there is so much math that's used in there well I loved math...but I wasn't good in electrical. I didn't go into chemical, I loved chemistry but didn't go into chemical because I could afford to leave home to go to school, Manitoba doesn't have chemical engineering so why we make the choices, may be what's available, where we can afford to go to school and I mean I had a lot of friends of mine who went into engineering because their buddies went into engineering. Some of them lasted, some of them didn't. Nobody investigates that, why did you pick civil well Engineering As A Career Choice 61 because my buddy did. Who knows how you choose, I think you look at what you're good at, what you're interested in, where you see potential (interview 7, female). The quote above identifies numerous issues potentially relevant to disciplinary choices and the context within which decisions are made (i.e., what options are available, financial considerations, how well one performs in a certain discipline, or possibly the influence of friends' choices on one's own choices). The familiarity factor, however, was raised by a number of women (4) as a possible explanatory factor in understanding disciplinary choices. This would suggest the importance of not only educating girls about engineering as a possible profession, but to further illustrate what the different disciplinary areas in engineering entail. Several women (3) indicated that certain disciplines are more male-dominated than others, and thus, more difficult to enter. Some of it's attitudes, I guess women have always been in chemistry and biology but physics is something that's even harder to go into to so i f you find something like engineering physics or electrical engineering that's just, that's another step to take and it's much more male dominated so it's harder. A lot of it I think has to do with you've already taken the big step of going into engineering which is something that is surprising to most people that you're a woman and you're going into engineering and so just taking that next bigger step of going into something that's really male dominated and that might even start in high school I mean I know I would have liked to take electronics but it was all guys so I didn't take it so it starts very early (interview 13, female). In one of the prior quotes (page 59, interview 18, female) a woman used the word "comfort zone" while reflecting upon her disciplinary choice. While the choice of engineering was uncomfortable due to her lack of experience, certain fields within engineering would have been more uncomfortable due to a lack of prior exposure and awareness of these fields (she uses electrical engineering as an example of one such field). Comments such as these suggest not only an awareness of the existence of a hierarchy of masculinity, but also a consideration of this hierarchy in the disciplinary choices of some female interviewees. More than a quarter of the women engineers (6) felt that women's disciplinary choices are guided by personal values. Some women talked about it in terms of values and ethics, while Engineering As A Career Choice 62 others expressed the idea that women are more interested in and drawn to the social side or social aspects of engineering. The following quotes illustrate this point. I think again it goes back to values and what society values. I think the reasons women are focusing in different areas are because of their perceptions of each of the types of engineering. For example, for me environmental engineering is an opportunity to combine biology and applied science. It's also an area that I see needs help. So I'm here in my profession as an engineer helping society, which is a classic female characteristic, much as I hate to use stereotypes (interview 3, female). Sometimes I think that some, we get more, a higher percentage women in some areas because women tend to have certain characteristics that attract them to that. For example, civil engineering tends to be fairly high with women and in civil you get into things like, that's typically where environmental engineering started and you could say that that maybe appealed to women's sense of the you know community as a whole rather than just like playing with toys and designing engines and cars that go faster and that kind of thing so you know I'm not sure whether I totally buy into that but I could say yeah there is maybe a leaning of women towards the more social aspects of engineering and away from the strictly technological aspects (interview 5, female). I don't believe that there a real difference in how male and female engineers deal with technology and technical aspects of their jobs. I think there is a big difference in how women, in how women communicate and view projects as a whole and in their, in their value system so from my experience there's a much larger number of women in environmental engineering as opposed to some of the other more technical engineering fields and I believe that's more to do with their values and ethics than their technical skills ... I believe that women and men are socialized in different ways which makes their focus different and young women are socialized to take more of a nurturing or protective role and men are socialized to be the provider and to be in charge and to take, to take positions of authority and so I think that affects their value systems so with women being socialized to be protective and nurturing I think that spills over from their relationships with people to their relationships with the environment and they view wildlife and the natural environment almost like a mother would view a child or her family in wanting to protect that I think that, that's more, that's more common or correlated than for men, it's obviously not black and white but, whereas men I think feel comfortable with taking the role of being the provider and having a position that has a certain amount of status where you make a certain amount of money I think that, I think that is much more part of their value system ... My value system is not, is not geared towards money, it's not focused on money, money and status (interview 22, female). Engineering As A Career Choice 63 Yeah I would recognize that there are areas and I alluded to that somewhat in my choices that I made early on where a woman is more likely to take into consideration her family situation when choosing a career or field of specialty, right or wrong that's the way it is ... I suspect it's just, we were brought up that way. But I think women tend to be more interested in, in the social side, in the environmental side of engineering. I saw that even when I was at school and there's a lot more women in government then there is in a lot of areas too ... I don't know why. For me personally it's been something that's always been part of me and something that I needed to satisfy as part of working. I wasn't interested in a job that didn't satisfy that part of me and why that happens for me, seems to be more common for women than men but I've no idea but I acknowledge that it's there and, and that we're often better at some aspects of that, or find that part of the job more, much more, less difficult to learn anyway. Going out to the public, talking to large groups of people without pissing them off, we tend to be better at it than some of the guys in general (interview 39, female). These responses indicate how some of the interviewed women perceive their social interests and values to have influenced career choices. The insights into personal motivations for such choices are applied to understanding motivating factors in other women's choices, and are anticipated to influence other women's career choices in a similar manner. 4.3 Conclusion The responses of men and women with regard to their motivations for their choice of profession intimate many similar influencing factors, such as: an aptitude for math and science, an interest in a profession which applies these subjects in practical manner (versus doing pure science), or exposure to engineering work through a parent or role model. Engineering was also attractive to some of the men and women because of perceived employment opportunities and good salaries. Men's motivations for disciplinary choices included an interest in the particular subject matter, familiarity with the particular branch of engineering, better monetary rewards, and the broad nature of a particular branch yielding more options. Women's motivations for entering engineering and their subsequent disciplinary preferences included other influencing factors. Their motivations suggest an appreciation of the functional role of engineering, a desire to use engineering as a vehicle for change, and a consideration of social dimensions of Engineering As A Career Choice 64 engineering work beyond simply an interest in the subject matter. The responses by more than a quarter of the women lend some support to Sorensen's (1992) suggestion that disciplinary choices and job specialties are an expression of gendered values and interests. As reviewed in chapter Two (see section 2.2) Sorensen and Berg (1987) suggest that the gendered nature of technology may vary across disciplines and discuss how this may explain the emerging gender division among engineering disciplines or the role the gendered nature of technology may play in disciplinary choices. Technology, they argue, is in part gendered through the gender-typing of technological artifacts (technological tools, processes, instruments, or equipment) in that some artifacts are conceived as 'masculine' while others are viewed as 'feminine.' Their study on the relationship between gender-typing of artifacts and the emerging gender division among engineering disciplines indicates that technological artifacts of disciplines such as chemical engineering are perceived and defined as more 'feminine' than artifacts of disciplines such as mechanical or electrical engineering (Sorensen and Berg, 1987:159). Gender-typing of artifacts appeared dependent on the look of the artifact and the gender of the user. Furthermore, 'masculine' artifacts were those that are "large, dirty, noisy, and rugged," and associated with "something complicated, advanced, and mechanical (Sorensen and Berg, 1987:161)." 'Feminine' artifacts were those which appear "small, neat, accurate, clean, and physically light," and more associated with things such as the living sciences, care-taking, orientation towards humans, softness and sensitivity (Sorensen and Berg, 1987:161). The responses of some of the women support the perception of a hierarchy of engineering disciplines. Numerous women mentioned the distinction between 'hard' and 'soft' engineering. Hard engineering was described as any discipline which could be regarded as more masculine (mechanical or electrical engineering), while the term soft engineering came up in discussions of environmental engineering or areas of engineering more identified with feminine defined values such as nurturing and caring qualities. Women's reflections also highlighted an awareness or perception that opportunities and difficulties vary by discipline. Some environments are considered more inappropriate than others Engineering As A Career Choice 65 such as the operation, plant, production, or mining environments versus research and office environments. Unlike men, women's choices were also shaped by gendered social structures such as family considerations and other life style choices. One example was that some fields of engineering (geology, mining) require more traveling, living, and working in remote areas with almost exclusively men. A problem mentioned with disciplines which require living in remote areas in small communities was that it would be difficult for a spouse to find professional employment. After exploring engineers' reflections on their motivations for career choices, participants were questioned about their work experiences, their satisfaction with their choices, and their career aspirations and prospects. The following chapter deals with their thoughts on these issues. 66 CHAPTER 5 WORK EXPERIENCES, CAREER ASPIRATIONS, AND CAREER PLANNING 5.1 Introduction The engineering work environment has been described as a male-defined work culture based on its predominantly masculine workforce (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1989, 1991; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991; Wajcman, 1991; Sorensen, 1992). With the continuing recruitment of women to engineering as a previously untapped pool of talent and the increasing number of women in engineering, it is important to learn about the work experiences of these women within this masculine work environment. It is important to develop an understanding of the process of integration of women in the engineering profession and their status in the profession. Such knowledge further edifies ways in which the structural organization of the work environment or the model of work behaviour dominant in the culture of engineering may need to be modified to facilitate diversification of the engineering workforce. This chapter compares the work experiences, satisfaction with career choices, and career aspirations of men and women to explore whether gender differences and similarities. It further looks at potential reasons for leaving the profession. Interviewees were first polled on how the working world compared to their expectations prior to entering the workforce. 5.2 The reality of the working world A quarter of the men (5) had not given much thought to what engineering work would entail. Some men (4) mentioned they had merely pursued what they enjoyed on an academic level. Of the participants who had prior expectations about what the work would be like a fair number of men (5) and a couple of women (2) felt the work turned out as expected. Two things Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 67 mentioned most frequently by both men and women are noteworthy. One is the expectation that the work would be more technical, and the surprise of a third of the participants at the importance of non-technical components of engineering work such as business skills and interactional skills. Related to these was also surprise at the lack of preparation the engineering education had provided. Thus, one experience was the steep learning curve in the early stages of one's career. Examples cited include how little of what was learned in school is actually used, the lack of incorporating non-technical but important skills, and how much more complex the work can be. The following quotes reflect how prior expectations about the engineering working world compare to reality: I think there are two different aspects of my work, the business part of it and the technical part of it. The technical part of it is very much what I expected of it ... However, when I started, the thing that disappointed me when I first started working is that these, I found myself lacking a lot of business skills that under most circumstances they should, I should, I expect my engineering education background to reflect that, business skills. Maybe you know the whole program of engineering ... should prepare more the students, new graduates, to be better equipped from a business perspective. Managerial skills, supervisory skills, organizational skills, personal communication skills, writing skills. Those things are extremely important for engineers and I don't think any of the undergraduate program prepares you for that ... nobody really told me what the real world would be like and it was quite a shock for me and it is still a shock (interview 30, male). A n awful lot more writing ... There's a lot less math than I would ever have expected. It's funny to see the emphasis in university which was heavily on math, very little on communications skills ... it seems to be a lot more business related than I would have thought. There's a lot more communications, negotiation and finance than I would have thought too (interview 17, male). Women shared similar views and feelings about the nature of the work, such as the importance of non-technical components in their work. I find more of my day is involved with interpersonal skills than it is with purely technical. Seems like you get a certain level, you have to work for a number of years to gain a competence in your technical experience and once you've gained that what you end up finding is that interpersonal relationships and skills and communication probably become much more important (interview 18, female). Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 68 I had expected it to be a lot more of the actual, the detail design, the actual, working with the advanced math and statistics and design on a daily basis ... The biggest surprise was the non-technical component of the work and the importance of that in terms of economics, marketing, finance and people and I think I totally under-appreciated or under-estimated that side of things (interview 23, female). I expected that it would be a lot more technical ... I certainly didn't expect that I would have to have so many people skills ... what I learned from a technical point of view I use very, very little in my current job and I certainly didn't expect that (interview 33, female). For several women (3), however, this was an unexpected but satisfying part of the work. Some of the men (3), on the other hand, mentioned they did not enjoy these aspects of their work. In fact, since the work was not as technical or creative and involved more writing and business skills than anticipated, they stated that they might have chosen something more technical or applied had they known. The job market for engineers is changing as are job characteristics and requirements. Communication and interpersonal skills are becoming increasingly important (Frize and McLean, 1994), but both men and women were surprised by the importance of these non-technical components of the work and felt unprepared. These sentiments have been documented previously. Robinson and Mcllwee (1989) were surprised at the frequency with which American engineers in their study mentioned the importance of interactional skills. Women relayed additional disappointments and frustrations, one of which was the realization of the extent to which gender barriers still exist. I guess I didn't really expect that many road blocks for, for women when I was graduating. Even when I went for interviews, like I went to something like, I applied to 60 different companies and quite a few of them just basically said that they wouldn't hire a woman. Q: "Back in 1981?" A : Back in 1981. Most of the mining companies were very reluctant to hire any women. Q: "Had you thought about that at all before you started applying for jobs?" A : I didn't really think about it until I started applying and it could be the fact that I came from a country where 55 percent of the engineering are women so it was more of a, I guess my social background (interview 33, female). Various women (4) mentioned similar experiences in finding employment and job interviews. Another realization work experience brought involved the gendered nature of the engineering work environment. Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 69 When I was going to university for my first degree I didn't notice any difference, not that much anyway, that women were treated different than men and when I got here working you know there's just so much I didn't think about before. I didn't think, I don't know i f it was denial, I just didn't think it would exist in the workplace that much and I find that it is kind of a boy's structure in a way and that just wasn't something that I'd given much thought to (interview 15, female). It was so male-dominated. I really had no idea what that meant, what that meant for me personally and how that would affect me (interview 39, female). Prior to working some women had not given much thought to this issue or had underestimated the gender barriers they would encounter. Carter and Kirkup (1990) noted the tendency of women to avoid recognizing the masculine character of engineering until actually entering employment. Carter and Kirkup contend that once in the workplace women engineers are forced to recognize the gendering of work and become aware of the ways sex matters. The responses from a quarter of the women engineers (5) parallel those of the engineers in Carter and Kirkup's study in that regard. The avoidance of the gendered nature of work was further reflected in the belief that progress depends on the quality of one's work. Work experiences lead to the realization that this is not necessarily the case. I used to think that i f you do a good job and you're good at what you're doing then you'd get what you want in terms of a position or rewards associated with that and in the real world that's not necessarily the case ... I guess it becomes a gender issue here. You can get so far, move ahead to a certain extent as a, progress from a third level engineer to a senior but to go beyond a purely technical world or senior technical world is not that easy, there are a lot of barriers out there ... I think well sometimes well because it's a male-dominated profession sometimes guys feel that certain tasks may not be suitable...(interview 4, female). Once I started working, I realized it takes a longer period to learn the basics and to, to get the respect, and to get responsibility and even then you have to fight for it and you have to ask for it all the time, it's not automatic, you can be stuck in a low position forever i f you don't complain about it . . . So I would say that initially I was very disappointed. I even considered leaving, first the company and then when it got really bad I considered leaving the profession. I thought I had made the wrong choice... but I felt I'll hang on and try to see what I can do, make a move within the company and that's worked. So the work now is varied (interview 8, female). Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 1Q A couple of women (2), however, shared the view that women are not as likely as men to complain or leave a company because of misplaced loyalty, which was explained as the view that women may feel they owe their employer loyalty for hiring them, and feel grateful to employers for having been given an opportunity. Similar to responses Toohey and Whittaker (1993) documented in their survey of thirty Canadian engineers, approximately a third of the women (7) in this study held the view that women have a harder time in gaining respect and acceptance. Another issue to which little thought was given prior to joining the workforce concerned the visibility and isolation of being a woman engineer. I was just out on a site, a construction site, last week and I was thinking to myself, when I was in school I didn't want, I didn't go to school to stand on a damn construction site for days on end. I don't want to do this. I mean, sometimes it's just, I don't wanna be out in the middle of a construction site, the only woman for 25 miles you know. I don't have to be a role model all the time. I had never imagined that you know. I mean, that's not why I went to school. When I'm doing some of the reports and the analysis and stuff that I think is interesting then I like it . . . It's just like any other job I think. Some of it is really neat and exciting and some of it is you know tedious (interview 9, female). This woman's response also indicates an awareness of her status as a role model, which brings an additional responsibility. She also relayed her surprise at not finding the work environment as professional as she had anticipated in regard to gender issues. Finally, throughout the interviews another disappointing surprise was mentioned by many of the engineers (8 men, 6 women) about the engineering profession. This sentiment can be found in this passage: As much as I enjoy my work and as much as I love the profession it is very unfortunate that society in general does not view engineering as, as it is supposed to. The salary compensations of engineers compared to some of the other professions are really extremely disappointing for most engineers. And I think it's up to us engineers to, to change this. While engineering brings a lot to society, both positive and negative but hopefully i f we can keep up giving the positive value, the impact in a positive way in society I think it's up to us and nobody else. If we want to change it lies on our own shoulders as engineers (interview 30, male). Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 71 This issue will be discussed further in section 6.2 which discusses some of the changes engineers would like to see. Not surprisingly many felt that engineering is undervalued (5 men, 4 women) and that the salaries should be raised. In summary, upon entering engineering employment both men and women were most surprised by the importance of non-technical aspects of the work (e.g. business skills and people skills), and the fact that the work was generally less technical in nature than anticipated. Some of the engineers appear to have held the traditional view of engineering as very technical work focused on problem-solving skills and involving little communication (oral and written) skills or interpersonal skills. Consequently, many interviewees discussed the lack of preparation they felt school had given them. Of interest is the insight that while for some of the men non-technical elements detract from their job satisfaction, women mentioned the social aspects are a contributing factor to their job satisfaction. One possibility of this realization is that perhaps broadening the image of engineering through an incorporation of social components of the work (team work, people skills, etc.) would be beneficial to the goal of attracting more girls and women to engineering. Women engineers' work experiences raised their awareness of gender barriers, the gendered nature of the engineering workplace, and the visibility and status of women in the engineering workplace. These issues will be discussed throughout the chapter as they emerged again and again. Some of the career goals and prospects will be examined first. 5.3 Career Aspirations and Prospects A n important element in comparing work experiences of men and women engineers concerns similar and different career aspirations and perceptions of career prospects. Prior research presents opposing results with regard to gender differences in career aspirations and work-related values (see Chapter Two, section 2.4). Thus, another area about which the participants were questioned was their personal and professional goals as engineers and their prospects of achieving set goals. The importance attached by both men and women to a list of career objectives (see Appendix E, questionnaire, section F) indicate very similar aspirations on Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning . 72 the parts of the men and women with regard to goals such as attaining a management position and supervisory responsibilities, gaining technical expertise, the ability to explore new technological ideas and methods, contributing to the advancement of technological knowledge, or acknowledgment of one's contributions. However, more women than men (18 versus 13) valued attaining a management position and learning administrative methods (18 women, 14 men) as important. This could be related to women's career goals to break the glass ceiling and to improve the status of women in engineering by succeeding. Similar objectives were cited during the interviews by men and women engineers including a good, stable income and standard of living, self-employment, management aspirations, balancing work and family, job satisfaction, continuing the learning experience, obtaining the professional engineering certificate, pursuing teaching interests, and building a professional reputation. One of the men talked about taking on a leadership role in his community and his involvement with the engineering association. A number of the men (3) did not have any particular career objectives in mind other than "just general job satisfaction." However, some of the men (2) without clear objectives were considering leaving the profession. In part, for these engineers the lack of clear objectives was tied to the lack of financial stability and appropriate remuneration their employment offers and as such they were considering alternatives. This will be discussed further in section 5.5, which explores engineers' career plans. Men mentioned other things such as wanting to work on interesting and challenging projects. The most common way to progress in the engineering field is to become a project manager or to move into management. However, one goal mentioned by several men (3) related to career progress was moving into middle management while continuing to work on the technical side of the work, such as design, at the same time. This engineer, for example, was more interested in becoming a specialist engineer: I want to work as a specialist engineer. I do not want to go too far into management because of, there's just too much politics ... On a personal level as an engineer, I don't know. I have goals for my personal life but I don't think the engineering profession is going to give me that. I, what is simple is that I want some stability, financial Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 73 stability, in life and the engineering profession certainly will not do that. I also want to spend more time with my family and being an engineer, being a professional I mean that's, that may be more difficult these days ... So yeah, more time with my family, quality time, and more stability (interview 35, male). This engineer was not alone in mentioning job instability or lack of financial security because of the engineering employment market. This further reflects the difficulty anticipated in balancing family life and work. This issue was raised by several men (2) and women (4). However, most men regarded their prospects as reasonably good to very good except in the area of balancing work and family life and moving into management. Reasons given for the latter concern the flattening out of the structure of work organizations, and the relatively young age of individuals currently in the higher management levels. The anticipated difficulty in combining professional and family life is due to the fact that the profession has yet to embrace family values in its work ethic Lack of flexible work options, long work hours, lack of parental leave, the stigma attached to taking time off in case of a sick child were cited as examples. Many additional goals were stated by women. These had to do with making a difference in engineering and society, more generally through raising gender issues and environmental issues. Goals discussed, for example, were the desire to make a difference, to change the world and contribute an unrepresented perspective to the decision making process, to break down the gender barriers, and to help make it easier for other women to enter the profession and succeed. Another goal specific to women was the desire to achieve a position within their engineering career whereby they felt comfortable starting a family. These findings reflect variation of work objectives by gender. These responses would seem to indicate that a significant number of these women engineers (10) strive to make a difference and effect change, and include goals not directly related to careers such as career advancement. Thus, in the case of some of the women (6) personal values and social views are experienced as relevant to one's approach to engineering. One example of this can be found in this woman's interest in educating the profession and public on environmental issues to change the treatment of the environment. Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 74 I hope to have a positive, a positive impact on the way other people in this organization view the environment and view the purely technical work that's done here in a more, in a broader way within the company and also outside of the company to have a positive impact in general on the environment and on how our society views the environment and also treats the environment (interview 19, female). Another woman recognized the importance of this aspect of her engineering work as a source of job satisfaction by saying "If I can identify my work with some of those changes in the quality of the environment or the discharges I'll be happy (interview 37, female)." As with some of the men (4), for a number of women (4) goals were not as clearly defined or were subject to change. If you had asked me that question ten years ago I would have had a pat answer for you: to better community and work with technology and better science and all those sorts of things. I'm becoming a little bit softer on that. I think I'm coming to the point where I just say I, I really like working here in the X field I think I've found my niche and I would say that what my goal would be if I were to stay here for a number of years is to be a good manager and to provide excellent services to our customers (interview 18, female). I have a part of me that very much wants to be a super, super woman engineer and be a project engineer and all that kind of stuff but I'm not really too sure whether I want to work that hard, make my whole life my work because that's, from what I've seen in consulting, that's what it takes and it also takes playing the game and having the right connections and getting, it's a very big commitment so at this point in time my goals are to, to try and learn, to keep the learning process going because that's what I like doing, learning (interview 9, female). Not all of the women (6) were optimistic about the prospects of attaining their goals. Two women mentioned they were considering leaving and one woman stated she would leave i f she did not attain her goal of moving into management within five years. Several (6) felt that it will be a struggle and that it will take longer to attain their goals than for their male colleagues. I would like to, I would like to advance ... it's another challenge and not just from the point of view of every man who would want to advance also ... but then there is, beside that a woman who would want to do that would also be a trail blazer and that's an awful lot more difficult. It's been quite a trail blazing experience to be where I am now, that's exciting as well, but I'd like to advance further (interview 18, female). Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 75 Some women (3) not only talked about their experience as ground-breaking, but also discussed the challenge of changing the structure and organization of the engineering work environment that 'trailblazing' involves. ...there's two routes that engineers tend to take, one is to stay on the technical side and become a technical specialist ... I'm more inclined towards getting into management, but to continue to be involved in technical aspects ... but I don't see that going as I had planned because of my family commitments and the fact that I'm going to be asking for part-time work and I think that's going to affect how I'm viewed in the company and affect my promotion, and my progress and I know that for a fact. There is no provisions. They've never had women engineers, I was the first one in the company so I'm basically breaking the ground here. Whatever I can achieve other people will follow I'm sure but personally what I'm going to ask is initially for maybe 50%, 20 hours, and after a few months maybe 3 months move it to 60% and have four 6 hour days, I haven't gone into detail about this with my manager. I have a feeling he's not going to be very supportive ... but I'm assuming that. I've had discussions with my general manager and president of the company they've both told me they'll accommodate me and don't worry when the time comes we'll talk about it and it will be fine but and they might have a different ideas of about what's part-time and what's fine. They might say ok 35 hours is part-time ... I think it might take me longer. I think I'm going to get there ... if I intent to stay with consulting and this company I think as long as I'm part-time then I'll not be progressing very much but as soon as I come back in maybe two years as full-time and as long as I'm prepared to put in extra time (interview 8, female). Thus, this woman's success in combining her family and professional responsibilities and her successful negotiation with her superiors regarding parental leave and temporary part-time work will set a precedent for others in the company. Another important point she raised concerns potentially different definitions of what constitutes part-time employment. As there are no formal policies, she has to negotiate and come to an understanding with superiors who may not share her views; hopefully, without jeopardizing her future career prospects too much. Thus, approximately a third of the women (7) see a need to transform the profession and are slowly attempting to change the structure or organization of the engineering work place in order to better balance family and professional responsibilities. Some women did not consider their prospects for attaining their goals within engineering as great and, consequently, were not optimistic about the future. They are not alone in this Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 76 appraisal. Other studies have documented the belief among women engineers that opportunities for advancement are less for women than men (Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, 1983; Toohey and Whittaker, 1993). Furthermore, as mentioned in Chapter Two, several American studies suggest these feelings are not unfounded, documenting the differential advancement of men and women (Jagacinski, LeBold and Linden, 1987; Robinson and Mcllwee, 1989, 1991). These forty engineers were asked i f they felt there are disparities in the distribution of high quality assignments. Almost two-thirds of the women (13) felt this to be the case either sometimes, often or almost always, while almost two-thirds of the men (13) feel there is almost never task assignment inequity. This inequity in task assignment leads to different levels of experiences and credentials with consequences for promotions. Although the question was not posed with a specific reference to gender, one example of task assignment inequity can be found with regard to field assignments. A couple of women (2) mentioned the difficulty of obtaining assignments which would provide them with the opportunity to gain field experience, while others had heard of women having similar problems. I've been denied site work which every male engineer in my company has had. It's not for indefinite periods, I only wanted to have a few months out on site just to see how things are built so you have a good idea so that when you're designing you know how they do it. You can't read it in books, it's not the same. You have to learn how to deal with contractors and with the public and with the client and that's not easy when you're sitting in the office, you handle it over the phone right. It is not a training requirement in Canada to have site experience and that's a problem I think. In England it's required by the professional association to have 1 year on site for everyone so they have no choice they have to send you on site, companies have to and here they don't and I repeatedly ask them when I joined so for the last 4, 5 years they've made excuses saying we need to find a job large enough or small enough or close enough or far enough whatever. That job never came up and after a certain point you've become too expensive to send out because usually it's a junior staff or non-engineers who are inspecting the site, it's not more established engineers because they're just too expensive. So I don't think I'll ever get that opportunity and I think a lot of women engineers have this problem and when I discussed this with my boss he said you'll pick it up in other ways say through, though contract administration but at that point your in charge of the contract and i f you've never been on site you don't feel very secure because they, because the contractor is going Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 77 to start questioning your judgment and your experience and they have the right to. They expect you to know the practical aspects ... none of the women in my company have ever been sent out. I was the only one who came fresh out of school so some of them had site experience previously so they didn't really care that much but for me it's still a big issue (interview 8, female). Such assignments are an essential learning experience, and provide field work foundation to later positions. The lack of field experience could be viewed as an impediment to seeking subsequent promotions. Engineers were also asked whether they felt there was a double standard for the evaluation of work performance and quality of work in their companies. A large number of the engineers disagreed (7 women, 11 men). However, while a large number of the engineers were undecided on this issue, more women than men felt there is a double standard of performance evaluation (6 versus 3). Engineers were further asked whether they feel there are equal opportunities for men and women for advancement in their current workplace. Table 8 documents their responses. Table 8 Equal advancement opportunities in current place of work Women Men Not at all 2 1 Somewhat 9 4 Yes 8 , 13 Do not know 1 2_ Total 20 20 Only eight women felt there are equal opportunities at their workplaces, nine felt this to be the case only somewhat, and two did not feel this to be the case at all. Men were more optimistic in their estimates of equal opportunities. Men and women were in close agreement in their assessment of equal opportunities for men and women in the engineering profession in general. Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 78 Table 9 Equal advancement opportunities in the profession Women Men Not at all 4 3 Somewhat 12 12 Yes 1 5 Do not know 3. Q_ Total 20 20 A couple of women and men mentioned they were thinking about leaving the profession. This will be discussed in more detail in section 5.6 which reports on the career plans of the engineers. Engineers were also asked whether they felt their gender had affected their career in any way. Two men thought it probably had in a small way. Interestingly, almost three-quarters of the men (13) thought their gender had affected their career in that they recognized they might have chosen another career path, that they might not have had the same employment opportunities, or that they might not have advanced at a similar rate i f they were women. Certainly in my career I couldn't do the job I am doing, a woman couldn't because she wouldn't be taken seriously in Japan or Korea. They'd laugh. In fact, I can't hire a woman engineer as a field rep. there because they think they're stupid. Women, they don't go to them as experts and the job I'm doing is answering expert questions they come to me with. It's very demeaning to them to have to ask a woman and it's a cultural problem (interview 6, male). Being that I'm in mechanical, I don't think that being a woman I would be where I am today. I don't think that opportunity was available I mean my boss has, we'll put an ad in the paper and you'll get 200 resumes and there aren't that many women and the women that we do get the resumes from, he's generally not as interested in a woman. He doesn't, I think they have to be really good for him to consider them, better than the equivalent man (interview 20, male). If I was female my career path might have differed. Most certainly I don't think I would have ended up doing the jobs I have done ... I'm not comfortable being the odd person out and I would have been ... that fellowship or camaraderie isn't shared, so I would have sought out something that's more familiar to my circumstances and my environment, a more comfortable environment (interview 24, male). Another man recalled that a female colleague felt that her suggestions were not taken seriously because she was a woman and experienced a meeting where those same suggestion would be Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 79 discussed more seriously when suggested by a male colleague later on in the meeting (interview 26, male). A l l but a couple of women felt their gender had influenced their career. Women cited examples of gendered opportunity structures. As noted earlier in this chapter, women shared experiences of task assignment inequity (in particular field work), and gender discrimination in seeking employment in particular areas of resource engineering such as the pulp and paper industry or the mining industry. Women also discussed being harassed to varying degrees within the work environment, and not being taken serious or cases of mistaken identity while in the field. Furthermore, the effects of having a family are perceived to be costly for women. Women perceive gender differences with regard to remuneration and rates of advancement. In B C only 3% of engineers are women so there's a lot of surprise I guess when people find out you're an engineer ... the acceptance isn't there within the profession as a whole, the majority of women, there's 400 women engineers I think in B C and the majority are very young, I think between 23 and 35. There isn't many senior women engineers around so you have to prove yourself all the time and then there's more barriers as you go on and you want to start a family then it becomes more difficult, the way they view you it's not the same as they view a male upcoming engineer ... I feel I've had discrimination but I don't think it's intentional. It's just so ingrained it's societal, it's not limited to my profession, I expected some but as I progress in work I'm meeting more and more barriers because, again you have to prove yourself, you have to show dedication to the company and now I have conflicting interests in life with the baby coming, so I feel I'm going to be discriminated against for making that choice, to have a family, but I knew that would be the case. They almost told me that i f you choose say to work part-time you're gonna fall behind. I don't think that should be the case but that's the way it seems to work ... I had been considered for the family share holder this year which is I guess a mile stone, to buy shares in the company means they value you and you have more of a say, it means you've made it basically and usually that happens after 5 years so I expected to be asked this year, actually I expected to be asked last year and that would have been five but I knew that once they realized I was going to have a baby it wouldn't happen...I realized that might basically delay or ruin those plans for sure and it seems to be true, because he told me they considered me and they think I'm a good candidate but because I'm going to be on maternity leave when the shares are up they decided not to offer the shares and I consider that discrimination for sure. They think well you're not going to be here and you're going to be asking for part-time work and that's not the kind of engineer that we're going to promote so. It's an indication I guess of why I think it's going to take me much longer than a male Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 80 engineer. The male who have come in after me because they have been able to put in extra hours and show their dedication in that way they've made it basically in terms of becoming partner or share holder...It seems to be a requirement, for you to put your work before your family life. It's required that you work 80 hours a week non-stop, you do it or else you're not in the club (interview 8, female) Thus, both men and women perceive opportunity structures to be gendered. In short, career goals such as management aspirations, financial stability and job satisfaction, were shared by men and women. Both men and women discussed the difficulty of progressing into management due to the restructuring of the engineering work environment, which according to the engineers is eliminating or significantly reducing the layers of management in companies. This leads to reduced numbers of management positions and opportunities for advancement. Women, however, further recognize the 'trailblazing' nature of their work experiences within the engineering work environment and discussed the difficulty of combining one's family and professional life. Often, women will be the first in a particular workplace to explore parental leave or part-time employment options. Choosing these options is anticipated to have a negative effect on one's career progress. Career objectives mentioned by women do seem to indicate gendering of social realities and the relevance of social values and views to their work or a broader perspective in the manner in which they approach their work as suggested by the literature on the socialization of gender differences and women's ways of knowing discussed in Chapter Two. The inquiry into personal and professional goals was followed by asking whether participants would choose the field of engineering again i f they could start all over. The next section examines their reflections regarding this issue. 5.4 Career choice satisfaction One of the reasons for attracting more women to engineering is a decrease in the traditional supply of men on which the engineering profession relies. It is of interest to determine whether the engineers would choose engineering again and the reasons for their preference. This may illuminate the decrease in the traditional pool of engineering applicants, possibly why the Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 81 number of women is so slow to increase, and reasons why people are leaving engineering. Table 10 documents engineers' thoughts on whether they would choose engineering again. Table 10 Engineering as a career choice: would engineers make the same occupational choice? ' ; Women Men Would choose engineering again 10 12 Would probably choose engineering again 2 0 Not sure I would choose engineering again 3 4 Would not choose engineering again 5. 4 Total 20 20 Twelve of the twenty women and twelve out of twenty men would at least likely choose engineering again (60%). Two women and one man cited the reason for choosing engineering again was to gain the technical background and not necessarily to pursue an engineering, career. These interviewees would keep their minds open more to other employment possibilities using their technical background as a resource. This means that sixteen engineers out of forty would not make the same occupational choice again or were unsure. Four men were not sure as to whether they would make the same choice again while three women responded that they were not sure they would choose engineering again. One of the men would not choose engineering again for financial reasons but would i f only job satisfaction was important (interview 21, male). Three men and five women were certain they would not. One reason cited by several people was the lack of recognition in society of the value of engineering and, consequently, the absence of what was considered reasonable financial remuneration compared to other professions: I think the public perception of engineering is fairly poor and it's, that's a very long haul battle to overcome. It's not something you can do on an individual basis and I think that it makes the profession very difficult to be in and its getting more difficult from that point of view ... it's very frustrating, (interview 16, female) Engineering I think it's a, quite a rewarding profession, but then again you work really hard during the program and when you get out it is rewarding but sometimes because, because of the job opportunities and, and the lack of advances, you know you, i f you had to take all of that into consideration you know, sometimes we Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 82 engineers tend to, not all of them, on the average, tend to question whether we made the right choice or not and I'm not only talking about my own feelings. I have friends who, and actually a lot of them picked engineering as well and are working day and night, saying the program was hard ... and are facing restructuring. A lot of them are having second thoughts (interview 35, male). Malinowska-Tabaka (1987) examined job satisfaction and dissatisfaction among four groups of Australian professionals (lawyers, engineers, teachers, doctors). Several of her conclusions correspond with the responses of the engineers in this study. She found that regardless of occupation all professionals were relatively dissatisfied with their income, work under pressure, and had some problems with the underestimation of their profession by clients, colleagues, and society. However, the engineering profession was the only profession whose members sought a higher standing in society. Like the engineers in Malinowska-Tabaka's study (1987), engineers voiced the belief that the decline in status and financial remuneration were connected to society's lack of understanding of the vital role engineering plays in society. However, what the responses of some of these engineers (4 men, 1 woman) indicate is that the lack of status and adequate financial remuneration is not just a source of job dissatisfaction, but a reason to not choose engineering again. In light of responses as to why these engineers choose engineering, it seems logical that the apparent inability of the profession to meet these criteria would lead some of the engineers to make different occupational choices. As will be discussed in the following section (section 5.5), some of the male engineers are considering possible alternatives to continuing employment in engineering in part because of the lack of status and adequate financial remuneration. Given engineers feelings on inadequate remuneration in comparison with other professions such as law and medicine, it would be interesting to research the relative remuneration of engineers, lawyers, and doctors; especially since many alternatives considered by engineers concerned other professional pursuits. Related issues concerned the lack of job stability and limited opportunities, topics which was first raised in the prior discussion on goals. There's always the temptation I guess perhaps because the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. I often look at professions who look very mundane but from Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 83 my experience with insecure jobs I must say I'm looking for a secure job but there's a lot to be said for an ordinary job that provides you with a means for living so that's a possibility (interview 24, male). Those that did not think they would choose engineering again or were not sure, cited several more factors as reasons for their decisions. These included the repetitive nature of the work, wanting to do something different, or the introverted nature of the technical work. Women mentioned several additional reasons. Several (3) talked about the lack of flexibility in regard to forms of employment within engineering. .. .if I had to do it over again I would, I would probably go into medicine ... because of the job opportunities, the flexibility and demand ... It's really tough in engineering in, the fields are quite specialized and trying to get flexibility like trying to find a part-time job which is what I'd like to be doing is almost impossible in engineering and you're, so that's one issue is the flexibility and the second issue is the compensation. I think for considering your effort it's far below what it is in other professional fields so I think there's other professions that give you a better return on your investment and give you a lot more flexibility in terms of picking and choosing the kind of working environment you want which isn't to say that I don't enjoy engineering and I do enjoy the work (interview 23, female). The issue of compensation discussed earlier is mentioned by this woman in her reflections regarding flexibility in engineering. Some women (4) who discussed the need for flexible work options did so in reference to the anticipated need to balance family and professional lives after starting a family in the near future. However, women with one to five years of experience may want part-time work in the future when they have decided whether they want start a family. Only one man discussed an interest in part-time work as a possibility. Of the forty engineers, thirty-one were married (15 men, 16 women). Nine women and five men had children, while one woman and one male engineer's wife were pregnant. Unfortunately, participants were not asked about methods of child care, but all participants were in full-time employment positions. Consequently, it is not possible to ascertain the effect of family life and family responsibilities on professional lives. A B.C survey on flexible work options by the Division for the Advancement of Women Engineers and Geoscientists printed in the B.C Professional Engineers Magazine elicited responses of seventy-eight women and fifty-eight men. The survey identified Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 84 four methods of child care: spouse, daycare, nanny, and parents. In the case of men, the most predominant method of child care was the spouse; in the case of women, the predominant child care arrangement was nannies with daycare as a close second method of child care provision. Some women (5) felt they lack input to bringing about change or felt ineffective in their efforts to achieve change, for example, in the structure of the work environment, in the way in which work is done or in the community. No ... I would choose a science degree first as a background because I like science but I do not believe that the engineers are leaders as they were seen some you know 20 years ago. I believe the leaders now are the planners of communities so I would go into planning i f you asked me what, would I do it again ... I would like to get a first cut in you know shaping the community and I believe that is done by planning and politics ...(interview 18, female). Another woman discussed the structure of her particular work environment as traditional and difficult to change. As discussed in section 5.4, the group of women currently in engineering are breaking ground with regard to experimenting with and establishing precedents for parental leave and flexible work options. Several women (3) discussed the possibility of pursuing other options i f this task proves too difficult to achieve or too costly to their careers. A couple of women (2) felt they would choose other areas of engineering i f they were starting all over, such as this woman for example: ... probably I'd do something more along environmental studies ... Just because it's, it's an area that seems to be reaching a sort of crisis stage and something, we are all going to have to do something about (interview 19, female). Other issues raised by women concerned gender barriers to change and advancement, lack of job opportunities, and discrepancy between increasing responsibilities and years of experience. Work experiences vary by gender, a factor in whether one would choose engineering again. This woman was not sure whether she would choose engineering again citing gendered work experiences as part of the reason: Possibly not... it's not so much that I feel negative about engineering ... It's more that there, now that I know myself better I may have been able to achieve some of my long-term, some of my personal goals or feeling good about what I was doing Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 85 through other professions ... Q: "But you're still not sure i f you'd do it again?" A : I'm not positive. I, I guess the other thing in the back of my mind, and it's, it recedes farther and farther back as I go on longer. This job I'm really enjoying but I've had some jobs ... where I haven't and mostly because of who, who I've been working with and, and the kind of office relationships that develop where, where I worked for this one old guy who just undermined me all the time and that was, that was very difficult for me personally and it, it lasted for 3 years until he retired and the only reason I stuck with it was because I felt that I was here for the long-term and he wasn't and I was going to grit my teeth and stay with it and I had a long-term commitment here with the city and that I was going to ride it out. That was the worst situation but I've had other situations that weren't great coming up through and, I forgot why I was talking about this, why, would I go through engineering again. Because it, because it was so male dominated. I really had no idea what that meant, what that meant for me personally and how that would affect me. I really, I think it would have been nicer to go through a different profession that, that I wouldn't have had to put up with all that shit. It probably would have been better, for me (interview 39, female). Women mentioned the feeling of isolation in a male-dominated environment. One female engineer highlighted not only the isolation associated with her high visibility and token status, but also the lack of progress with regard to the status of women in engineering. ... I just find the work is somewhat repetitive and I find it frustrating as well to some level, you know I see a lot of information about the chances of women in the engineering profession and the way things are going and the salaries aren't all that great either and there's just things that come up, I don't know, I think also that working in a predominantly male environment that kind of gets to me after a while too, it's just not having much interaction with anyone of the same sex. I think there's something about that that's wearing after a while (interview 15, female). Both men and women cited other professional choices as alternatives to engineering. These included business careers, law, medicine, or other science degrees. However, keeping in mind Malinowska-Tabaka's findings (1987), it is likely that many of the same problems would be experienced in other professions. Furthermore, choosing another professional role might lead to a less male-dominated environment, but not necessarily a less male-defined workplace, or one that grants more equal opportunities to both sexes. Thus, despite the satisfying nature of the work, the lack of professional status or recognition, adequate financial remuneration, and job stability present a situation in which a considerable number of engineers would either not make the same career choice or are not sure Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 86 they would. Women also relayed disappointments about gender barriers to succeeding, the lack of significant change in the status of women in the profession, and the difficulty of changing the culture and structure of the engineering work environment. Some of these issue also emerged in career plans of the engineers. 5.5 Career planning A n area of concern within the profession and the research on women in non-traditional areas of employment is the attrition rate of women engineers. Little is known about the factors contributing to this phenomenon. Therefore, participants were asked how long they anticipated remaining in the field to find out whether any of them were considering leaving and i f so, for what reasons. Table 11 shows the responses regarding whether engineers intend to stay in engineering and if so the expected length of time they anticipate remaining in the profession. Table 11 Anticipated length of time of employment in engineering Men Women Until retirement . 1 0 10 Undecided 2 0 1-5 years 5 7 5-10 years 2 2 10-15 1 1 Total 20 20 Responses differed very little by sex. Ten of the men and ten of the women expected to continue working in the field of engineering until retirement. Of the remaining twenty responses two men were undecided at this point whether they would pursue something else or stay in engineering. The responses of the other eighteen, however, indicated the intent to pursue other options including leaving engineering. However, several engineers who mentioned that they were considering other things were undecided about the issue. Only half of the engineers felt sure they would remain in engineering until retirement. Five men and seven women expected to be in engineering in the next one to five years. They were either not sure whether they would still be in engineering after five years or were Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 87 definitely looking for alternative opportunities in other fields of employment. Six participants (three men and three women) expected to be in engineering for more than 5 years but not until retirement. Some of the reasons are similar to those for which engineers would not choose engineering again. For the men lack of job security, the feeling that they might be able to do better elsewhere are among the more important reasons for exploring other options. I guess it comes down to, I don't feel the long-term prospects of the consulting engineering industry are stable so, I would like to have more control over my personal future in terms of what I'm working on. So I want to get away from this particular profession at least or the consulting field and maybe that ends up being in engineering but I'm thinking that most likely it will be outside of engineering because engineering is so heavily dominated in BC by the pulp and paper industry ... (interview 26, male). Several male engineers (3) felt they could do better elsewhere in terms of salary and opportunities, and consider leaving engineering on these grounds. One male engineer was also considering his options but in a different way: I will always be applying my engineering skills, which I see as problem solving but I don't know i f I'll be doing it in a traditional way. Q: "What are some of the reasons for considering pursuing other options?" A: I think just to, to have a greater impact on individual people's lives ... it would be for the need, awareness, the need that I have to have a greater impact on a smaller scale by not working for a large X company and, so I'm just sort of toying with what's a better investment of my life (interview 17, male). This engineer, like several of his female colleagues (4), would like to have a greater impact on people's lives through his work. Self-employment, seeking more business-oriented work, and seeking further education were alternatives considered by men. These alternatives were regarded as providing better and different opportunities. Two men mentioned teaching as an alternative because they find the prospect of teaching children about technology and giving something back to the community appealing. Although a third of the women (7) thought they will only stay in engineering for another one to five years, some were not sure which alternatives they would pursue instead. A couple of Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 88 women also mentioned considering the option of teaching. One woman engineer mentioned teaching for the following reasons: I would say five years ... Some options that I've looked at are teaching, research, taking the skills I have and applying them to environmental fields which are not necessarily fields that engineers would be in ... Q: "What are some of the reasons for considering these alternatives?" A : If I were to go into teaching or some other environmental fields that are not necessarily dominated by engineers I would hope to broaden the impact that I could have on society and the way that society views the environment ... Teaching would also, another benefit would be more direct contact with people and more, I feel that there would be more emotional satisfaction to that rather than dealing with technology for the most part (interview 22, female). A n advantage of this alternative (i.e., more people-oriented) was mentioned by a couple of other women engineers (2) as desirable. One of the women mentioned wanting to start her own business to explore new areas and learn as the reason for leaving. Several women (3) stated that they will leave or try to start up their own business from home i f they do not advance in a satisfactory manner or do not attain their professional goals. One of the women raised the issue of resistance to change (e.g., flexible work options, improving the status of women in the profession, increasing the women's opportunities) encountered in the profession and work place as a factor in the decision to stay or leave the profession. Some (2) thought they may go back to school and pursue further education in such areas as accounting or law. One of the women mentioned she had considered leaving earlier in her career because of the different styles of practising engineering. I think the whole sense of, of, there were a lot of different reasons but on the whole a sense of not feeling valued because of a difference in style between men and women operate and having everyone above you being male. Everyone that evaluates you and the way you work is male. I was actually the first woman that X hired. That's always been hard, although at the time I probably didn't acknowledge it ... I know now the kinds of things I had to put up with when I started here that don't even exist anymore. You don't realize it until, until you stop banging your head against the wall that it actually hurts you know. So I think being evaluated based on someone else's perception of, of how managers ought to or should operate, basically not being valued for what you can offer because what you offer doesn't exist to them has been the hardest ... and was a source of frustration for me. So I was being evaluated against someone else's set of values and it took me a long time because I was the Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 89. only woman here for a while, that yes I was going to operate in a different way because I had no one else to look at to, to see how it was going to work ... no mentors, no, nobody else to look at to, to see oh yeah, well you can do that a different way and I would, I went through a long period where all I knew was that I wouldn't do it the way he was doing it. That's all I knew, but I didn't know how, i f I was the boss how would I do it. I had no idea (interview 39, female). This issue will be pursued more in Chapter Six in the discussion of the possibility of alternative styles of engineering. Finally, the consideration to leave is complicated for some who realize their status as role models. I've thought about getting out of engineering ... whenever I talk about getting out of engineering my husband gets mad because I've done a lot of work with the women in engineering association group ... I've done a lot of work with that and he gets mad when I say I might not want to do this anymore because I've been this role model. He doesn't think I should stop doing that. And a lot of women work for X and kinda all think it's the same thing ... it's really not fair. Like I have this friend who ... she was doing tele-commuting part-time and they never had an engineer do that before and so she was beholden to make it work or she, they could just forget it. They could say: "We've tried it, it didn't work". Fortunately she did (interview 1, female). Thus, while men discussed disappointing remuneration, lack of job stability and opportunities as reasons for possibly leaving the profession; women cited lack of progress or unmet expectations, gendered experiences, and the struggle encountered in efforts to change the work environment as reasons for possibly leaving the profession in favour of other professional options. Some of the reasons women engineers cited as potential reasons for leaving (office politics, lack of flexibility, unmet expectations, being in a male-dominated environment) have been noted as factors in women managers' intent to leave (Rosin and Korabik, 1991). Women did discuss their disappointment in remuneration and status but as a source of job dissatisfaction rather than a consideration for leaving the field. This could be due to the fact that relative to other typical women's occupations engineering has one of the higher earning ratios for women compared to men (81%). Thus, despite the disappointment in remuneration and status engineering is still a good option for women. Both men and women who are considering self-employment find this option attractive because it will yield more control over their time, actions, Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 90 and learning process. A couple of the women envision this as a possible solution to combining their family and professional commitments. The responses reveal not only reasons for pursuing alternatives, but also sources of job dissatisfaction. Engineers were asked what they enjoy about their work as an engineer and what they dislike. The next section examines the responses to this question. 5.6 Sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction There were few differences between the men and women with regard to the attractions of the work. Most often cited was the feeling that the work is interesting and technically or intellectually challenging, an appreciation for the creative or constructive nature of the work, and the sense of accomplishment from the work. Almost two-thirds of the participants (25) enjoyed the problem solving component and the logic of engineering work. Surprisingly, considering the widespread sentiment among the forty engineers regarding the lack of recognition and appreciation of engineering in society, eight engineers liked the respect and status that they feel is associated with being an engineer. Several other attractive aspects were the continuous learning process involved, the opportunity to travel, the variety of the work and working on new and different things, learning new technology, working with other engineers, and the job satisfaction it offered. Although four men found the non-technical aspects such as business aspects or social aspects attractive features of the job (e.g. dealings with other engineers and clients), over half of the women (11) indicated they enjoyed such aspects. Even though few had anticipated this would be an integral part of their work, it was a source of job satisfaction for many of these engineers, in particular women. While several men (2) liked the fact that their work is a relevant contribution and has a positive impact on society approximately twice as many women (5) discussed this aspect. Some of the women (5) also felt the work is rewarding and mentioned the satisfaction derived from the sense of helping people and the gratitude received. Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 91 The variety of work that I get involved with and different people, the types of people and groups that I deal with, that makes the job very enjoyable ... It's the problem solving aspects and being able to pass information onto people who need the assistance and, and I guess the, the gratitude that I get by providing service to people in the field (interview 4, female). It's challenging and interesting and it's rewarding I would say (interview 23, female). I enjoy the fact that what I'm doing has a purpose. So in all I can say whatever I do is good for something (interview 34, female). What stands out in these responses is the fact that these women engineers derive part of their job satisfaction from the non-technical aspects of their work, specifically those activities that involve interaction with other people or are people-oriented in some way. Like their male counterparts, they enjoy the intellectual stimulation and the problem-solving nature of the work, but more frequently than the men, they also cited non-technical aspects of the work as a source of job satisfaction. The sense of accomplishment when something gets completed. I enjoy working with people, both our clients, the people in the office, the people on the job site. I like the resolution of difficulties because there always are many in anything you do, I like being able to be in the office but also have the opportunity to do a little bit of traveling (interview 16, female). As discussed in Chapter Two, section 4.2, several women (3) mentioned having actively sought positions that are more people-oriented or found they preferred such positions once in the workplace. One woman realized that her job is not as emotionally satisfying as other work would have been. On the other hand, she derives not only intellectual satisfaction from her work, but also satisfaction from the awareness that she is providing a role model as a woman engineer. Well, I find the work that I do challenging and interesting. I feel that I contribute to the way the company is run. I find it interesting, intellectually interesting. It's more, I'd have to say it's more intellectually satisfying than emotionally whereas I think i f I were working in an industry that was more directed towards people, like medicine would be another option that I was looking at, that, I would have found that more emotionally satisfying. Another, I guess another positive, positive aspect to the work is that I feel that, that I can be a positive role model for women and young women that they can see that women can work in non-traditional fields and be successful and that's definitely another consideration (interview 22, female). Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 92 Women also mentioned other gender related aspects that are satisfying. For example, the remuneration is better than most things open to women (interview 1, female). Two women mentioned they enjoy people's surprised reactions due to gender stereotypes. Oh, well, I guess I like the shocked look on people's face when they realize they are talking to an engineer. I know I don't look like other engineers because I'm female (interview 3, female). The fact that their presence reminds people of the presence of women in engineering and raises people's awareness of women in engineering is satisfying. Men and women shared two main frustrations about engineering. One of the complaints, voiced by over a third of the engineers (14), was the remuneration. The comparison to other professions was often drawn in the discussion of the disappointment in the salaries. The pay. I think for the amount of responsibility and the risks we have to take engineers aren't given adequate compensations. We're professionals (interview 12, male). There's the issue of compensation. I feel that for the level of responsibility that engineers have within our society they're not compensated in a fair way as compared to other professionals like architects or lawyers (interview 22, female). Lack of public recognition is one thing. We're not compensated on the same level as other professionals even though we take risks too. Something I design, I have to sign and seal a drawing for and I'm responsible for that for many, many years and it can come back and haunt me so I'm taking a lot of responsibility and risk for that. I don't feel I'm getting paid the same amount of money or respect as other professionals tend to (interview 8, female). I dislike the fact that, I don't think that engineers get the monetary reward other professional employers like physicians get (interview 14, male). I guess I feel it's not as rewarding a profession as I might like to think from a personal satisfaction perspective, that engineering isn't valued as highly by society in general. I guess you look at the image of the doctor and the lawyers and some of these other professions and there's basically a salary structure that's fairly high is what it comes down to for those professions while engineering seems to be sort of a viewed as secondary function by a lot of people in society. They don't appreciate perhaps the, the technical importance of having good engineering designs and its impact on society in general as we were talking about earlier. So to me it seems Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 93 there's not enough rewards for the engineer, because there's so many risks associated with it in terms of liability (interview 26, male). The last quote highlights the other main frustration for many of these engineers. Over half of all the engineers (21) mentioned the low status or lack recognition of engineering and its contribution to society in the eyes of the public and the business world in their responses. As mentioned in the prior discussion in section 5.4, Malinowska-Tabaka (1987) found similar sentiments among Australian engineers, namely dissatisfaction with their income and the underestimation of the engineering profession in society. Approximately half of the engineers (21) interviewed expressed this sentiment. I think it's just the lack of recognition that so much, that engineering is taken for granted in society. That, I mean an example is i f you're i l l you want the best doctor. If you're in a law suit you want the best lawyer. If you're going to build something you want the cheapest engineer. And it's just, the lack of understanding of what engineers can contribute or how they do contribute is I guess, that's the most frustrating thing about it (interview 17, male). There was no significant variation by gender with regard to either engineers' disappointment in remuneration or the lack of recognition of the important role engineering plays in society. Some of the engineers would like to see a public campaign to raise the profile of the profession. Several other dissatisfactions were mentioned by men and women such as the stereotype of engineers as either 'nerds' or 'jocks', the feeling that the work is not very social or people-oriented, and the male-dominated environment. A quarter of the men (5) expressed a dislike of the non-technical aspect of their work, and several mentioned the frustration due to lack of job security in the field. Some engineers (4 men, 3 women) employed in larger organizations mentioned the frustration administrative and corporate goals can pose for obtaining approval and finances for projects and getting projects done. Alexander (1981) refers to this as the fundamental conflict between the characteristics of professionalism and the characteristics of the bureaucracies large organizations create. Engineers' professional goals are compromised by bureaucratic goals. He describes characteristics of a profession as: (1) a formal body of knowledge, (2) autonomy over the application of special expertise, (3) commitment to an Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 94 occupation, and (4) a sense of responsibility to society (Alexander, 1981:52). He further discusses the bureaucratic organizational context in which objectives, task assignments, adoption of methods, criteria of success and failure, and the basis of the reward system are determined by management. Management, he theorizes, seeks conformance and commitment to organizational objectives over a commitment to the profession. In contrast, Wallace (1995) argues there is no inherent conflict between professional and bureaucratic goals. She suggests that enhancing employee integration, upward mobility, participation in decision-making, and the legitimacy of the authority system (for example, legitimacy of criteria for promotion) results in enhanced commitment to an organization and increased job satisfaction. This leads employees to identify more with an organization and adopt its values and goals thus reducing conflict in the workplace. Alexander (1981) further surmises that engineers often feel their skills and talents are underutilized. A fair number of the responses (6 men, 5 women) support Alexander's summation. Three men and three women felt their skills are underutilized some of the time. Women added yet other factors to the list that can be viewed as gender-related. For example, the need for flexible work options was raised. Over a quarter of the women engineers (6) remarked that the work ethic was too rigid and inflexible to accommodate for family responsibilities or a balance between personal and professional lives. Further frustrations arise out of the politics involved, the 'old boys network,' harassment, lack of parental leave options, the way ideas are communicated or the communicative styles, and the feeling that women are not part of the decision-making process. Some of these issues already emerged in section 5.4 within the context of whether engineers would make the same career choice i f they could start over. A quarter of the women (5) also mentioned gender in the sense of the responsibility they feel for changing things for the better and the frustration to which this can lead. The gender aspect is a big thing. I'm always on the forefront and I'm always having to fight and change because we're the first group basically. To always be educating people or, or confronting them or accepting. Sometimes you just have to let it go and you have to accept some attitudes that are not right (interview 8, female). Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 95 Some of the gender stuff, but it's not too bad for me as an individual but just the societal expectations ... people are always surprised, new people, like people that you just meet, that you are an engineer. And just reading through contract specifications and sending little notes back saying their not gender inclusive, try again. And just always pushing that back a little bit (interview 1, female). Several women (2) prefaced statements by qualifying that gender-related issues are not really a problem for themselves, but are a contributing factor to other women's negative work experiences. Such responses touching upon gender-related difficulties in women's work experiences raise the question of what the consequences are for women engineers, who feel they should be agents of change and feel responsible for affecting change, when they do need to succeed in such a larger than life goal. It may set women engineers up for burnout or a sense of ineffectiveness quite unrelated to and despite their successful performance as an engineer. Women realize the struggle involved in changing the engineering work environment and culture. One woman felt although she would encourage her two children (daughters) to pursue the sciences, she was not sure if she would encourage them to go into engineering because of the struggle to succeed in the face of traditional attitudes and gender stereotypes (interview 33, female). 5.7 Conclusion Apparent from the engineers' responses is that while the men and women share many experiences as engineers, specific aspects of their experiences in the engineering work environment differ. In discussing how their expectations about engineering work compared with reality, whether they would choose engineering again, their sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction, and career planning, similar views were shared by both sexes. As engineers, men and women share the joys and frustrations of their work. Experiences and views shared by men and women as engineers include the surprise at the importance of non-technical skills (business skills, interpersonal skills or communicative skills) in their work and the surprise that engineering work is less technical than anticipated. Men and women expressed similar ambitions Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 96 in their discussions of career aspirations, while both men and women expressed a disappointment with the status of the profession in society and the remuneration it yields. Yet, experiences differed too. While men and women shared experiences and views as engineers, responses also indicate gendered experiences. What many men discussed as a source of job dissatisfaction, quite a few women discussed as a source of job satisfaction (i.e., the non-technical components of engineering work). For some of the women work experiences opened their eyes to the gendered nature of engineering and what this means in terms of their status or visibility in the profession. Work experiences raised women's awareness of the continuing existence of gender barriers. Consequently, women's assessments of their prospects were not as optimistic as those of their male colleagues. Furthermore, women's ambitions included aspirations beyond those held in common with their male colleagues and would seem to indicate that women are more expressive of the relevance of some of their views and values such as being a role model to others, improving women's status in the profession, and changing the structure and culture of the engineering work environment. Women also talked about breaking into management or changing the way the environment is viewed and treated both within the profession and society. Thus, at least some women do feel the need and responsibility to change the profession in several ways. They also feel a responsibility to provide a role model for improving women's opportunities in engineering and to increase girls' interest in engineering as a plausible profession. In taking up this responsibility, they have undertaken a considerable struggle, as recognized by many of the women interviewed. This is not to say that the women feel more relevance of their values to their work than the men interviewed, but they were certainly more focused upon social issues and how these come to bear on the work they do. They also displayed a personal involvement in the status of women in their profession. Men appeared more likely to view their work, career aspirations, or job satisfaction in objective terms such as financial stability, issues of adequate remuneration, and job satisfaction. Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 97 The experiences and views of men and women differed in another way, namely with regard to possible reasons for leaving the profession. Both men and women discussed the disappointment of the lack of status of engineering, the lack of financial or job stability, and what is considered inadequate professional remuneration; however, women did not cite these issues as reasons for leaving the field. Women discussed these issues as sources of disappointment and job dissatisfaction. Men, on the other hand, cited these as reasons for either planning to leave or considering leaving the field. Many of the women who are considering leaving discussed the gender barriers, the difficulty of changing the culture and the structure of the engineering work environment as reasons for exploring different employment. Some plan to leave if they do not achieve their aspirations within a certain time span, while others foresee problems balancing family and professional responsibilities because of the rigid work ethic which does not reflect an appreciation for other considerations beyond professional commitments. Women further discussed experiences of feeling isolated in such a male-dominated work environment and encountering traditional views regarding women in engineering. This was energy consuming and drew energy away from professional responsibilities. Women's decisions to leave are complicated by an awareness of their status as role models. Thus, as women engineers, women shared not just personal aspirations, but aspirations which reflect wider social concerns. Women cited gendered experiences as sources of job satisfaction and possibly reasons for leaving the profession. Consequently, any effort to improve the retention of engineers requires a recognition of the variety of reasons for which they are leaving. Furthermore, reasons for leaving engineering indicate variations by gender and thus, imply that different methods must be employed for the retention of men and women. Improving the status of the engineering profession and raising its remuneration might retain some of the male engineering workforce. It could be ineffective in itself as a means to retain some of the female engineering workforce given the fact women referred to gendered experiences and gender barriers as possible reasons for leaving engineering. Therefore, these findings suggest that the retention of women requires the elimination of gendered opportunity structures and a change in Work Experiences. Career aspirations and Career planning 98 the structure of the engineering work environment. This includes flexible employment patterns such as flexible hours, telecommuting, part-time employment, parental leave and provisions to return to work by re-entering on a part-time basis and gradually increasing work hours to full-time. Such measures would facilitate balancing family and professional lives. These concerns also apply to the prospects of attracting new people to the profession. Such gender differences are also evident in Chapter Six which explores the struggle of striking a balance between fitting into the culture and structure of the engineering work environment and striving to change it. The themes discussed in this chapter foreshadow the changes these engineers would like to see in their profession. Chapter Six looks at engineers as agents of change through an examination of their views. 99 CHAPTER 6 THE PROCESS OF CHANGE AND ALTERNATIVE STYLES OF ENGINEERING 6.1 Introduction As previously discussed (Chapter Two), the view that an increased number of women engineers will change the nature and image of the profession (Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Johnson, Chalmers, and Twombly, 1991; Mcllwee and Robinson, 1992) is related to the idea that women will introduce nurturing and social values. These values are the result of different and gendered socialization practices (Chodorow, 1978; Gilligan, 1982; Menkel-Meadow, 1985). This difference is theorized to lead to distinctive moral, emotional, and reasoning styles, and gendered orientations and values. However, even if these differences exist, the process through which these differences are translated into work behaviour and styles has remained elusive and speculative in nature. This chapter examines the impact women engineers may have on the profession through engineers' perceptions of the relevance of their personal values and social views to their work. The engineers were questioned about their perceptions regarding the change women engineers may bring to engineering in either the task of engineering, the process of doing engineering, or the structure and culture of the engineering work environment. The chapter first reviews the changes engineers would like to see in the profession before examining the role of engineers as possible agents of change. The Process of Change and Alternat ive Styles of Engineer ing 100 6.2 The desired engineering wo rk environment When engineers were polled on the changes they would like to see or consider necessary for the profession in general they had very specific ideas. There were several themes which were mentioned frequently. Once again the issue of status and remuneration surfaced as almost half of the engineers felt that professional recognition and appreciation need improvement. I think the profession should look at promoting itself more, building a public image. We have no public image. Nobody knows what we do (interview 8, female). In engineering we talk a lot about the changes we would like to see, a lot of talk for example about we ought to promote ourselves more, we ought to more public recognition and appreciation for what we do, we ought to get better salaries. A l l that kind of stuff, and to a certain extent I would probably say I agree with that. As an engineer I take an awful lot of risk in what I do but don't tend to be compensated as well for those risks a I would i f say I was a lawyer doing the same kind of thing and taking the same kinds of risks (interview 5, female). Seven engineers (3 men, 4 women) would like to see changes in the bidding process for jobs arguing that the competition for projects leads companies to underbid each other, a process which could sacrifice the quality and safety of the engineering work required. In consulting people lowball each other. That should be stopped. It hurts the profession. It means you try and do the job for as cheaply as you can and then the job doesn't get done properly or as well as it should. The jobs go to the lowest bidder rather than the best... all engineers aren't the same and if you want something good you have to pay for it (interview 13, female). Engineers who raised this issue feel this is a significant problem that the profession needs to address. The concern expressed was not only that the current process will continue to require projects to be completed within reduced time and money budgets, but that this may also pose a risk to safety and quality standards. A significant issue for the interviewees was to change the engineering education to reflect the demands and skills required in the workplace. A quarter of the engineers (7 men, 5 women) see the need to revise the undergraduate education to prepare students for today's engineering workplace. The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 101 Education wise there's gotta be some changes. For example, they need more coop programs to give the students practical exposure, more than just mathematical equations ... give them a feel for practical work...For the profession I think there should be some kind of skill upgrade for engineers... writing, like I said, is important so there should be some training in that, things like training in writing skills and some management skills should be provided to engineers, courses or skills. I think nowadays engineers are taking on more of a management role. We deal with people, other engineers, coops so management skills, interpersonal skills are something that I think is quite important to an engineer (interview 35, male). I think the engineering education has to be a lot more pragmatic. They have to teach you how to be an engineer ... a lot of the courses were unfocused and really had no value ... when you graduated they were of no use to you and they don't give you the skills that you need to be an engineer. Q: "So what schooling do you think an engineer should have?" A : Certainly strong computing skills, strong technical skills, strong background in finance actually strong background probably in marketing and business strategy would also, would also be useful, accounting. Those are important components to an engineer's job. Also communication skills, writing and oral presentations, how to behave during an interview, how to, how to conduct a telephone conversation. Most engineers the writing is, especially the writing is just atrocious (interview 36, male). I think the education that prepares people for this profession could be revised quite dramatically and be much more open. Less focused on technical and more focused on the societal implications, communication skills. I mean, we do a lot of report writing and for the most part a lot of engineering is, is crunching numbers. It doesn't prepare you for trying to express yourself in a written form and so I can see some big changes to the educational structure (interview 9, female). Not surprisingly, it was the aspects of engineering work for which engineers had felt unprepared that they recommended be incorporated into the curriculum. Communication skills (oral and verbal), people skills, and business skills ranked high on their lists. A number of engineers (3 men, 3 women) also felt that there should be an attitude change among engineers to reflect a broader, long-term thinking approaches to projects. As mentioned previously, they also felt that salaries should improve. Engineers raised the issue of the status of women in the profession, and the need for improvement in this area. One of the two men who raised this issue argued for the need for women's presence in engineering: The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering ; 102 We definitely need more of the other gender into the profession, because simply sounds incomplete i f it remains a male dominated profession ... I mean something that is ruptured ... you can only see the full picture when both genders are presented in the field. Truly because there are no reasons why women should not be represented within the field of engineering (interview 30, male). A quarter of the women (5) and one man also addressed the need for improving women's status in the profession. Women, however, also discussed traditional views on gender-appropriate behaviour and roles which they still encounter and would like to see change. There's the gender issues, I think the profession has to start accepting women because right now we're just tokens and, I've had it relatively good, but I know of a lot of people who've had a very hard time. They've had a lot of discrimination and harassment or just being totally ignored because they're female. People say look at that or they keep saying there's no problem or, or some people even say what are you doing in engineering? You have comments like that so it's outright stupid when somebody, there was a conference and one man had said that there's far too many women here and there all wearing pants, something like that. It was a technical conference ... this was the attitude like there's too many of them and why are they wearing pants you know, they're women, they should be wearing skirts. It's just that attitude. They need to open up. I've been in a lot of situations where I've been taken as the secretary or somebody's wife or somebody there to take minutes but not as an engineer, which at the beginning, it was funny, I thought oh that's cute you know. One time I was out on site with a colleague of mine who was about the same age and it was a member of the public, it was a house somewhere and he came and talked to me first about the problem there was and I talked to him and then my colleague came by and as soon as he came he just stopped talking to me and he turned to my colleague and said: so, this is your wife? and I thought who would bring his wife at a site with him you know. It's just so stupid, but that's where we need education to tell people that there are women engineers and they do the same work and you gotta accept that and respect them, so that's a major thing for me, to, to work on and to increase numbers so that we're not only 3 percent, but that's a major problem (interview 8, female). One woman expressed concern about the level of commitment of the profession to support women in engineering, and affecting change which would facilitate the diversification of the engineering work force: As far as the, globally in terms of the profession I'd like to see it a lot more gender balanced and I'd like to see it be a lot more, not just family, family because in my opinion flex-time whether it's for children or for personal time ... is valuable and that's sort of a global business structure thing ... From my perspective a real commitment to supporting women in the profession would be a giant step, because I The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 103 think right now it's, it's a very political thing and when the political heat is off then , there may be some, you loose some of the ground you gained in the last four, five years (interview 9, female). Some suggestions toward improving the integration of women in engineering were to introduce formal policies on parental leave and flexible work options. Flexible work options cited included telecommuting, flexible hours, and part-time work. Three men thought part-time employment cannot easily be combined with project and team work. McRae, Devine, and Lakey (1991) documented similar repsonses from male engineers and managers in their British study on policies and practices in engineering companies, but note that women felt work tasks and job specifications could be tailored to part-time employment. Another suggestion was to introduce mandatory or standard training requirements for engineers in training such as field experience. They're just general changes which would apply to everyone which I would think is better training requirements ... I think site work should be mandatory so everyone gets a chance to get out, and then, the training should be more rigid so people get similar training because no, depending on where you end up working you get totally different training and, and at the end of the day the standards are not the same so it's not good for the profession (interview 8, female). As mentioned in Chapter Five, a couple of women (2) talked about the difficulty of obtaining field assignments necessary to gain experience in engineering. One woman's suggestion (noted above), the implementation of standard training requirements, would remedy this situation and ensure standard training. A standard or mandatory training requirement would pressure supervisors to provide equal training opportunities, because women would be able to refer to the mandatory nature of the training requirement when they encounter difficulty obtaining field assignments. Some engineers also would like to see attitudinal changes among engineers reflecting an awareness and consideration for the fact that engineers do not work in isolation. Several men (2) and women (5) felt that engineers should have a consideration for the social context in which they practice engineering and that engineers should be socially responsible. I think there needs to be some attitude shift in engineering and I think in school and they might have already done this at university, but there needs to be more of an The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 104 emphasis on being able to, let's see conflict resolution and, I don't have the right word but sensitivity training and knowing what, what the impact of what they're saying, doing or designing has on other people. That they're not in isolation. A lot of engineers think they are and they're not and there needs to be more of an emphasis on that at school ... I think the curriculum at the university needs to be more in tune with what actually happens when you leave school (interview 38, female). A lot of what we do impacts people and geography you know, things that tend to fall outside of engineering, planning, community planning, that sort of thing. So, engineers, some engineers, need to be more aware of those things so they can work better and get solutions that meet everybody's needs, not just maybe the best technical solution which is what we've tended to do in the past (interview 5, female). More women discussed the need for an increased awareness of the social context within which engineering is practised. One of the women discussed the issue in a different light. That is, in terms of who the profession attract. Engineering has to be socially responsible ... Engineering has to be made much more human and sympathetic. The profession has to start attracting people who care about what they design. The government should regulate and the public should question what we are doing. Engineering should treat other engineers better, in other words there should be support for each other's work and here should be more teamwork and less competition. Evaluations need to be fair and flexibility in work options and lifestyles are needed. That's why people aren't good engineers. They're not allowed to grow, there's no support for that... The undergraduate program needs a complete overhaul, but so does the work environment. People should take things like humanities, technical writing, law courses to get broader minded people into the profession (interview 29, female). One suggestion was that perhaps there should be engineers who specialize in combination with other engineers who consider and evaluate social and environmental needs or consequences as a possible solution. Some (2 men) also suggested the creation of two different promotion tracks. ...promoting people based on their business skills as opposed to promoting people based on their highly technical skills. The trend is now and the tradition in all corporations ... is that i f you fulfill the objectives of the corporation you're most likely to get promoted ... and most of the time, people at the front who look like they are pushing those objectives happen to be good business men, but these good business men who happen to be usually promoted and getting the high, high, high position on the managerial scale ... are usually backed up by strong technical people ... I feel strong about my technical exper, skills and I'd like to pursue my career along the technical field. I should not be punished ... you really need highly qualified people, and i f you're not going to, i f the company is not going to encourage those The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 105 people by promoting them, the people who are using those high tech products, they will end up pushing forward the objectives of the company ... They say, i f I'm going to concentrate on the technical stuff I wil l never get promoted so I would rather concentrate on my business skills and then you don't necessarily produce the high quality of the lower level right there. So I view things as being you know, in the future we would be better off having two lines of promotion (interview 30, male). This is not a new solution to this dilemma. Alexander (1981) refers to this concept as the "dual ladder" approach This is the creation of alternative lines of progression for engineers who choose to specialize versus engineers who choose management. Alexander, however, argues that the power, status, and salary in this design continues to reside with and, thus, favour, management. A couple of men (2) expressed the desire to continue progress along a technical line, but realize this will not lead to advancements. Recommendations for change were specific. For the majority of engineers, changes to the current bidding process, engineering undergraduate programs, and improvement in the status and remuneration engineers receive were high on the list. These suggestions were mentioned most frequently by both men and women. Women would like a greater awareness of engineers' social responsibility through an increased sense of the social context within which engineering takes place and, thus, an increased consideration for social consequences and needs. Women were also more likely to express a concern for the need to improve women's status in the profession, and cited practical suggestions to facilitate the process of integration such as flexible work options, standard training requirements, formal policies regarding parental leave. Having reviewed the innovations engineers would like to see in the profession, we turn to to study the role of engineers as agents of change. In examining the relevance of engineers' personal views, values, or characteristics, engineers were asked a series of questions including the characteristics a good engineer should have. 6.3 Visions of the Ideal Engineer Several questions were asked to explore whether perceptions of what makes a good engineer suggest an association of engineers' identity with a particular gender. The idea was to The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 106 explore the importance given to traditionally defined masculine and feminine values and the frequency with which these were mentioned. Subjects were asked which personal values, characteristics or attributes they considered a strength or drawback for their work as an engineer. This was not to establish their capability or ability as an engineer, but rather to form a picture of a good engineer based on their perceptions. As such, the question (see Appendix E , question 27) was which of their personal skills and values they considered a strength or drawback in their engineering work. A more direct question first asked the participants to describe the characteristics and values of the ideal engineer. The intent was to explore the prevalence of behavioural gender stereotypes in the descriptions of a good engineer to gauge the value given to stereotypically masculine and feminine traits. Many characteristics described the ideal engineer. For the majority technical, analytic, mathematical and practical skills, written and verbal communication skills, an understanding of the non-technical aspects of engineering work such as the social impact or business skills, and interpersonal or "people' skills were at the top of a long list. Something else that was considered important by both sexes was honesty about personal limitations and honesty with clients. I think a lot of engineers deal with positions of great power to some extent, making decisions about the type of structures they are going to use. I think their values are very important in guiding them in making correct decisions ... valuing human life, valuing honesty both in financial and in interpersonal relations. Valuing power, I think an engineer does have to value that in order to appreciate it and in order to recognize whether his or her opinion is listened to or not listened to ... I think engineers also need good communication skills. They need to value them so they can recognize whether they are being understood and when they are not being understood. Honesty, I think is right up on the top of the list. Honesty with themselves about what they are and are not capable of, and honesty in dealings with others (interview 3, female). Men's responses differed little from those of the women with regard to their visions of the ideal engineer except for interpersonal skills. Half of the women (10) and a fifth of the men (4) recognized the importance of good interpersonal skills as valuable for a good engineer. Perhaps because many had been surprised by the importance of these assets in the engineering workplace. The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 107 Further traits and skills that were mentioned occasionally were organizational skills, creativity and curiousity, good listening skills, persistence, negotiation skills, a sense of ethics, flexible and quick thinking, a desire to learn, and being a team-player. Various engineers (3 men, 4 women) mentioned the importance of the ability to incorporate others' values into your work and a sense of belonging to the community and its goals and values. Some other aspects predominantly mentioned by women were strong family values and a value for human life. How do engineers measure up to their visions of the ideal engineer? Engineers were asked what personal characteristics and values they perceive as a strength for their work as an engineer. The most frequently cited traits of the ideal engineer were also cited in the list personal strengths. Skills frequently cited as personal strengths were technical skills or competence, a systematic, logical approach, and analytical and reasoning skills. Some of the characteristics and skills cited as important for a good engineer and as personal strengths reflect what feminist critiques of science and technology consider a masculine tendency to view these activities as objective, analytical, rational, and autonomous of context (i.e. beyond the reach of historically and culturally specific gendered realities and world views). Other strengths mentioned by some of the men (6) and women (7) were honesty and integrity and a practical bent or common sense. The variation between the responses of men and women was found in the frequency with which each sex listed interpersonal, communication, listening skills, and writing skills. While many engineers had listed these skills in their visions of the ideal engineer; twice as many women than men felt these were personal strengths for their work. A quarter of the women (5) cited listening and writing skills as personal strengths while only one male engineer cited listening skills. Eight women versus four men mentioned interpersonal skills, while over half of the women (11) considered communication skills as a personal strength compared with only three of the men. Thus, despite the realization of the importance of such skills upon entering the work force and suggestions to incorporate these skills into the educational experience, in thinking of the make-up of a good engineer men did not value interpersonal and communications The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 108 skills as often as the women. Although men recognize such skills as valuable assets, it is possible they do not regard them as crucial for success. Women cited some other personal attributes in addition to those mentioned above. Some suggested coping mechanisms while others are an indicated the possibility of gendered world views in engineering. For example, things such as a sense of humour, a tough skin, stubbornness, good attitude, willingness to take risks and being outspoken were mentioned as personal strengths. These strengths were seen as assets for working and succeeding in the male-dominated environment. Some of the women also considered a broad scope, a sense of fairness, a strong sense of environmental concern, being supportive of others, and strong family values personal assets. However, the perception of traits and skills as drawbacks are far more revealing of gendered self perceptions in relation to one's work as an engineer. When asked what personal characteristics, skills and values these engineers viewed as drawbacks in their engineering work no real pattern emerged. The list given by both men and women was extensive but extremely variable with items such as the need for better listening skills, social skills, and computer skills, the need to gain a better understanding of corporate culture, the need to be more detail-oriented or focused, and the need to become less of a workaholic (i.e., becoming less devoted to engineering). As noted by Mcllwee and Robinson (1989, 1991, 1992), the gendered identity of engineering includes the gendered forms of interaction and the gendered image of an engineer modelled on the behaviour and characteristics conforming to the male gender role. Characteristics or skills considered as personal drawbacks by women seem to suggest some of them measure themselves by behavioural styles (communication style and interactional style) and values consistent with the male gender role. Examples include their not being confrontational or assertive enough, not liking or wanting to hurt people's feelings, and being too emotional (when mistakes are made). Women also mentioned other drawbacks such as wanting to be liked by everyone, being too honest, being considered approachable at the cost of being taken seriously, not liking or wanting to hurt people's feelings, and not being good at self-The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 109 promotion. One woman mentioned an unwillingness to work for aggressive people. Other interesting drawbacks women mentioned include being too defensive, too bossy, too sensitive, too opiniated, and having too strong a personality. Finally, being a woman, balancing family and professional responsibilities, and having a political agenda with regard to the environment and women in engineering, were considered a drawback. These so called drawbacks suggest that women perceive difficulties resulting from working in a male-dominated and defined work environment and profession as a personal failure rather than an issue of gendered power relations, social structure and opportunity structures in society. So far this chapter has explored the relevance of gender to understanding the working lives and experiences, the self-perceptions, and world views of these engineers in a somewhat indirect manner. The following sections document responses to questions which were more direct with regard to changes in engineering, the role engineers play or can play in these changes, and the potential transformatory role of women engineers based on the hypothesis of alternative or different work and cognitive styles. 6.4 Engineers as agents of change Much has been theorized about the transformatory potential of women engineers with speculations both for a 'no difference' position and the position that women will change the profession in a variety of ways. The driving force behind this study is to ascertain the ideas amongst engineers about this subject. This debate is explored through questions as to whether participants feel the role of engineers today is changing to a much broader nature, what role they feel they have in the process of change in the profession, whether they think there are differences between men and women engineers' work styles, and whether they feel the increasing presence of women will change the task of engineering or the profession in any way. Participants were asked i f they felt their personal values and social or political views influence the way they approach their work or their work behaviour. A l l but one of the men (19) felt their values influence the way they approach their work and the work they do as an engineer. The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 110 Things such as honesty, knowing right from wrong, integrity, and work ethic were cited as illustrations. However, several distinctions were drawn. A quarter of the men (5) made the distinction that while their personal values influence their work; social and political values do not. Although they felt values influence their work beyond values such as honesty, integrity or professionalism, it was hard for them to specify or crystallize how values or views come to bear on their work. Six of the men made the distinction between technical work and dealing with people, stating that only the latter is affected by personal values. These views would appear to support Sorensen's (1992) suggestion that one cannot assume values are translated in an explicit and rational manner in technological decisions or applied to technological choices in an explicit or rational manner (see Chapter Two, section 2.4.3). Certainly, a number of the men (4) drew the distinction between the purely technical aspects of their work and social aspects such as interpersonal relations. This, however, could also suggest that the way in which values and social views relate to individual work styles or influence technological products is a more subtle process. Participants may also have previously given little thought to this issue. The practice of engineering is still primarily defined and regarded as an objective, scientific activity. In her discussion of science as a cultural practice, Longino (1989:47) distinguishes between two kinds of values: (1) constitutive values which are the source of rules determining what constitutes acceptable scientific practice or method and (2) personal, cultural and social values which express group or individual preferences about what ought to be. Longino refers to the latter as contextual values. In the case of engineering, constitutive values would refer to rules governing what constitutes proper technological practice and methods; while the expression of personal, social and cultural values can be found in particular technologies pursued, the choice between competing solutions to a problem, or particular design characteristics (Wajcman, 1991:22-3). It would appear that many of the engineers recognize the relevance of 'constitutive' values, but not 'contextual values' (that is, personal, social or cultural values). The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 111 Similar to the men, all but one of the women (19) felt their values and views influence their work. However, fewer of them drew the distinction between values and views. Women also had a clearer conception on how values influence their engineering work. Yes, definitely. I have a strong commitment to, to do what I can to protect the environment and preserve, preserve what we have in terms of wilderness areas and that type of thing so that's, that's I think a high, high standard of myself because of that, because of that value I guess (interview 22, female). I think your values are part of who you are and how you make decisions ... particularly in areas where there is a potential for conflict ... it's a fine line sometimes between convincing the legislative people that yes this is a good idea and between convincing your client that no this is not a good idea. You have to make some decisions in there about what you value, what you think is important, which side of the issue you are going to choose, and on which side you are going to debate it (interview 3, female). Well, it's something I always keep in mind when I have a project or there's a project coming up. I do think about it and think about its impacts so i f it's creating a weapon or something I probably wouldn't do it (interview 13, female). Oh certainly. I mean the value of treating people decently, because I know a number of engineers for instance who are dealing with, with construction tenders and this is an area in which in the past I have had quite a number of disagreements with other engineers where they've said well ok our bottom line here is to get the absolute best price no matter what happens ... engineers who say well you have to actually do the work to the point of actually putting the company out of business. That to me is not ethical and it doesn't in the long term help the profession at all and some engineers deal with these contracts with areas where they have legal ability to do things but I don't think moral, moral responsible for doing some things (interview 18, female). Some of the women (6) also had a clear perception of how personal and social values translate into technological results. The following quote illustrates the relevance of one's values and views through the eyes of one of the women. The same job done by different people can have different outcomes. You go back to the idea, there might be a right and wrong but often there is a combination. You have to find your way, you find your way through the solution. You find a solution, but quite often there isn't a single solution. So the way I think of something may be different from the way another person thinks ... personal values affect the way you think ... Some people might think some alternatives more viable than others, or The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 112 something that to me may not be particularly important to another person might seem like a major drawback therefore they wouldn't continue along that line where I would. You try and keep it as technical as possible but, it's science we're dealing with, but there's always a personal preference (interview 34, female). Thus, in congruence with Wajcman's theory (1991), some of these women's (6) expression of values and preferences can be found in alternatives pursued or features in a design. This would suggest that some of the women have a more subjective approach to their engineering work, which recognizes and incorporates the context within which engineering takes place. Moreover, the expression of their contextual values can also be found in their approach to non-technical aspects of their work such as interpersonal relations and the importance placed on consideration of social responsibilities and consequences, more so than in the case of men. Some of the women (6) feel their values do not have as large a bearing on their work as they would like, feel they have to compromise their values, or that only certain personal values influence work styles. I guess they do in so far as you know I have values that maybe drive me to do my best or to do quality work but I can't think of any other way, like you know social values that I have would impact design ... often you're just given a problem to solve by a client and, let's say he wants to build a dam, you don't have the luxury of saying well wait a minute should we really build a dam here. Your job is to design that dam for him and do the best dam design, that sounds terrible, the best design of a dam that you can, and never really say well maybe we shouldn't put a dam here. Like, that's somebody else's job (interview 5, female). Sometimes I have problems with ethical issues or just the way things are handled because of my political ideas which may not be the same as the majority but I found I have to be realistic. If I intend to work I cannot be questioning the decisions that I make ... you're effected by your background and ideas all the time but you have to reach a compromise too (interview 8, female). Less than I would like. I think integrity is important. You know, when you do something do it because it is right and not because of an alternative motive ... I think there's an alternative way of doing business ... but then you work for someone aged fifty-plus and you take over their characteristics, things like making money for the sake of business and money itself. A young person is impressionable and like a sponge...(interview 29, female). The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 113 These responses draw attention to the question of how much power, resource, or agency engineers have to translate values or views into their work and affect change. As reviewed in Chapter Two, section 2.4.3, Sorensen (1992) discusses the problem of translation of values and views into physical characteristics of technological products, and it was noted that this can be extended to the process through which technology is created, that is, the way in which engineering is done. Sorensen posits that values are not necessarily brought to bear on engineering decisions in a rational manner because of 'secondary' or professional socialization which continues to promote the hegemous (masculine) value system. The majority of engineers felt that the profession and the role of engineers is changing. The general sentiment, however, was that change is slow and mostly driven by outside sources such as the governmental regulations. These regualtions result from public awareness and pressure and the evolving and changing values of society at large. Some engineers felt that there is a broadening of considerations in the task of engineering towards environmental or social impacts. Others, however, were less optimistic and felt a lot is just lip service. Despite earlier responses on the relevance of personal and social values; the majority of engineers replied that there is limited, i f any, room for the application or expression of personal views in the engineering tasks they undertake. This is consistent with the distinction drawn by several engineers in the prior section between personal and social values where personal values but not social values were regarded as an influence in one's approach to engineering. A n explanation for this was the business nature of much of engineering which is client driven and in which engineers are contracted to provide a service. An engineer's personal perceptions I think can be accounted for and discussed and considered on a project, but whether or not they're accepted, really it's the end user of the project, of whatever we're creating that makes the decision on, on what they want to account for and what they want to pay for ... i f it's a woman or man that has a different perspective on something, their suggestions and input can be considered and evaluated and the final decision will rest with the client and what he is prepared to pay for ... I guess my initial concepts might be different than somebody else's and that might lead to different end results on a product but I don't think the individual is necessarily going to make the changes. It's going to be the acceptance of the The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 114 consumer of our products ... It just depends on, on what the client is prepared to accept (interview 26, male). Thus, although values may be expressed or translated into technological alternatives, the choice among different possible technological solutions often depends on the client or an organization's objectives. This includes, for example, what clients are willing to pay for or able to afford. Some engineers (2) suggested that these changes are more relevant in areas of engineering that have a social impact (environmental engineering, for example), while others (4 men, 2 women) felt the importance depended on one's position or job. For example, clients in the consulting business or those in a corporation's management are the ones weighing those elements so that when a project is handed to the engineer the decisions have already been made and what is left is perceived as a technical problem. Thus, one's power and resources to express social values or to effect change are dependent on the level of one's position, company mandates, and clients' objectives and values. All in all, engineers considered the changes in the profession or in the way engineering is done to be mostly a response to changes in public awareness and changing values in society rather than the result of either engineers or the profession as a whole taking a pro-active role. A minority of the engineers (2 men, 4 women) had a more positive view of the role individual engineers play, while a number of engineers (2 men, 2 women) felt individual engineers, and the profession, could and should play a bigger role. Thus, in spite of the feeling their values and views influence their work, few feel the profession or engineering work is changing because of individual engineers' views or actions. Nevertheless, women appeared more cognizant of the relevance of their values and views in their approach to the work they do, and were more likely to discuss this relevance. The problem of translation discussed by Sorensen (1992), suggest that values are not necessarily brought to bear on the practice and content of engineering due to 'secondary' socialization into the culture of engineering. Yet, a third of the women (7) felt their values and views do shape their work styles and technological outcomes. Another possibility is that some engineers may not reflect upon the translation of their values into specific problem-The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 115 solving in engineering work because of the approach to engineering as a purely technical practice which does not interact with the social or political sphere, a distinction made by a number of engineers. This may be a result of the traditional definition of technology which does not acknowledge the political, economic or social context in which technology is developed as argued by feminist critiques of science and technology (Longino, 1989; Wajcman, 1991). However, Wajcman (1991:23) writes that social groups have different interests and resources and, consequently, "the development process brings out conflicts between different views of the technical requirements of the device." Furthermore, "the stability and form of artifacts depends on the capacity and the resources that salient social groups can mobilize in the course of the development process" (Wajcman, 1991:23). Only a small number of engineers, mostly women, discussed different outcomes as a result of different perspectives. In view of engineers' opinions that changes in the profession are mostly driven by changes in the public's attitudes the question remains whether the presence of women in engineering will lead to changes through alternative styles of engineering. 6.5 Women as agents of social change in the engineering profession Several questions were asked to ascertain engineers' views and experiences regarding the idea that women engineers will act as diffusion agents of values thus far unexpressed in engineering and, consequently, change engineering. Engineers shared whether they thought the presence of women will lead to any changes in the profession, for example the organization of the work environment, the process by which engineering is done or, the nature of the work. As with prior discussions, the distinction between technical and non-technical aspects of engineering work was drawn. Change was mostly predicted in the organization of the work environment and the way work is done and perhaps the process by which engineering tasks or projects are carried out, but not to the content of the work. Most of the men (18) and women (14) did not feel the presence of women in the profession would result in technological differences or differences in The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 116 the end product. Thus, the majority of engineers thought men and women seem to do the same job and did not feel that men and women differ in their approach to engineering work. A couple of male engineers (2) thought the differences would be subtle i f any or that results would be similar, while only two men speculated that women might challenge conventional ways of thinking or introduce different perspectives. It's starting to change engineering. I think it's challenging some of the conventional thinking. There, in a group of men there can, they often share the same assumptions and assessments of a particular situation and, I'm not sure whether it's necessarily because some of my friends are women that they see the situation differently or just, outsiders bring a certain perspective to a situation and they analyze it, they see things that insiders don't. To a certain extent, to a large extent women are still outsiders within the engineering profession ... I don't think technically there'd be a, a lot of differences. There might be some new approaches to problem solving and more emphasis on, a lot of the women engineers are much better at working within, with teams, with facility teams. The, but I don't think you would see a striking difference between a, a concrete pad designed for a transformer designed by a woman as compared to a man. I think it's largely process issues but in front of it the finished product could end up looking quite similar but it, I think it's changing the processes, the processes in how engineering is done and as to the work, the thoughts in engineering is where the biggest impact is felt (interview 17, male). That's a tough question, I mean on the one hand I'll say no because the profession is driven by technological needs, what are the operating ability plants or making them run better, improvements. However, because we don't have a lot of women engineers out there right now I think it's, it would be a little crazy of me to say that they're not going to change things because they will bring in I think a different perception of how the work might want to be done ... I don't dispute the fact that many women are different and so I think that, I'm not saying one is better than the other but I think that because there is a difference different attitudes might be brought in, different, different approaches to a problem ... The training tends to be very similar across the board so that's, so I don't know that the training, the technical aspect would be a whole lot different (interview 20, male) Many of the men (13) thought the practice of engineering (i.e., work styles), may differ between men and women but that nevertheless the end result would probably be very similar. Differences in communication and interpersonal relations, for example, were thought to lead to differences in the process of engineering or work styles. The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 117 Although several of the men (3) specified the need for higher numbers of women in order for change, over half of the men (13) espoused the view that the presence of women engineers would lead to change in the work environment. The profession and employers will have to deal with issues such as parental leave and flexible work options, while the presence of women engineers is viewed to have a positive effect on the behaviour of men engineers. Various male engineers (3) mentioned things such as the use of bad language and the display of inappropriate pictures and calendars decreased as a result of women in offices and on sites. The biggest difference mentioned by the men between the work styles of men and women engineers were the better or different communication and interpersonal skills women engineers seem to posses. Women are thought to have better people skills, be consensus builders, and add humanity to the work environment because they are more people-oriented and social, have better communication and listening skills, and are better at considering all aspects involved or the context of the project. I guess the biggest difference would be that, I think women, women colleagues probably listen more, are better listeners so they are more aware of some of the other things, have a better, in some ways have a better reading of the context (interview 17, male). I would like to think that the workplace would change somewhat i f there were women around. I would like to think that we would end up with, where everybody behaved a little bit better toward each other (interview 25, male). Some of the men (5) discussed the possibility of a female perspective, but with some ambivalence. I don't think it will change it from a technical standpoint. It might improve it from a communication standpoint... Some other aspects might be taken into consideration, I mean a female perspective on, on a nuclear issue might be different than your standard male perspective. The pulp and paper industry doesn't really have a significant impact I guess, but the design of office buildings and, and the workplace and what not, where there's a more equal distribution of women. Maybe always having a male design something isn't the best thing because they have certain biases built into their idea and what not and so maybe a different perspective would have some benefit (interview 26, male). The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 118 Not in the day to day technical questions but I think it will bring a different perspective, kind of outside of the core of what engineers do, a different thought process or a different viewpoint. I don't think it relates to the technical as much as, as, just a different perspective I guess. I hope that with perhaps with more women in the profession, I think there's, there may be a perspective shift. There may be a change in the way the profession thinks. I would think, there's a difference the way men and women think so on a non-technical basis there going to be some changes I would think. When more women enter the profession the profession would change. I'm not sure how but you'll have a different bias, a different way of thinking ... I think there'll be some changes yeah, yeah. And I think they'll be positive... I don't think that women will fit in a mold that's established by the profession ...I think there'll be a change when more women enter because I don't think that they're going to fit or, or fit the stereotype (interview 27, male). Even though some of the men did not feel gender matters in terms of technical matters or outcomes, they would at the same time discuss how the presence of women will introduce a different perspective or way of thinking. In the last two quotes, the distinction between technical dimensions and social dimensions is drawn to illustrate where engineers perceive change will occur. This is consistent with the distinction drawn between personal and social values in the preceding discussion. One point made by several individuals (2 men, 1 woman) in the discussion of the presence of women in engineering was that despite differences between men and women in engineering there are more similarities than differences. I've been in projects and in situations where there have been large numbers of, where the female contingent is a large piece of the engineering that's going on ... and I don't, it doesn't change, materially change the nature of the work performed. It changes some of the social dimensions ... The nature of the work tends to drive the individual rather than the nature of the individual driving the work ... There's some, there are probably minor differences. Though they really are minor in comparison to the personality traits of the individual and, and women and, and male engineers are more like each other than they are like, I don't know, another profession so there are minor differences, some small differences between male and female engineers, but compare those to a set like doctors or accountants, those differences are more striking (interview 40, male). Various engineers indicated earlier (section 4.2) the difficulties experienced by women in positions of authority, more so in some work environments than others. One man, however, related the experience of reporting to a female supervisor as a positive experience. The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 119 I think they bring a new life into the process. I frankly experienced, experienced reporting to a woman engineer and I enjoyed that much more than reporting to male managers... See until, for myself personally, until I experienced for instance what it is like reporting to a female boss I would have never thought what I am missing. You see what I am saying. You've got two different approaches to, to bossing, to managing, to supervising, and this is why I refer now back to my explanation of the profession as being incomplete. Incomplete in the sense that I would have never think what it would be like reporting to a female boss engineer until I experienced it. So from that perspective there is something missing... so I think it would change ... In the way probably society looks at engineering, values engineering... The work environment is another thing that would certainly change. As I told you before I experienced working with one female boss amongst the male bosses I've worked for and that was a major change for me. I like it much more, it could be an exception but it may not necessarily be and until we have the, we have enough women to prove the case then you cannot really tell so changes, there would definitely be a change because the, women process things differently from many perspectives and that in itself, both gender, and that in itself would bring more benefits to the profession, diversity you know what I'm saying... when you have a specific project and you bring up different professionals form different fields, and they're going to work on that project, you are going to have a very fine product because you've got different views put into it. It's like the profession engineering. With both gender well represented in it, we would then end up with a different profession all together... I hate to generalize and I probably cannot generalize because women again are not represented proportionally but there's certainly a difference between both approaches definitely. We would be much better of with both represented (interview 30, male). This engineer's realization that without this experience he would not have known the different styles of supervision and learned of his preference for a different approach to supervising is and important insight. Women also relayed their experience with different work styles. Women feel that women's presence will lead to changes in the organization of the work environment or force the profession to deal with issues such as flexible work options, telecommuting, and parental leave. Others anticipated and hoped for changes by women were the infiltration of the "old boys network," and the work ethic with regard to the long hours engineers are expected to work. Women also hope values will shift more towards family. Approximately three quarters of the women (16) expressed similar views to the men in that they feel there are different, gendered work styles between men and women, in particular women are viewed to have better communication and interpersonal skills. Such perceived The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 120 differences are consistent with gender differences based on ideal gender roles in society. Another difference women raised is a more cooperative, interactive model of decision making versus the traditional hierarchical model. I think the way women communicate is also going to help change engineering ... I think the styles are very different... just in working here, women seem to draw more on the team whereas men seem to prefer a much more traditional hierarchy of I'm in charge and we're going to do it this way ... I think women value interpersonal relations more than men (interview 3, female). I think I handle engineering differently than my male colleagues, for example I like to, it's not that I can't make decisions or anything like that but I like to get input from the people that need to be involved in the decision making process just to hear them out and then I still come up with my own decision but I like to get people's input (interview 4, female). Hmm, a little bit. It reduces the old boys network, or preferably infiltrates it ... Women do take that slightly different approach ... More consulting I find, more questioning, more, they like to get everybody'll feedback first before they make a decision whereas men can often, prefer to make a decision based on their own study or research or whatever individually without as much consultation to make sure that everybody's happy ... Women are consultative, would prefer that the consensus governs (interview 16, female). The skills that women seem to have, that women seem to bring to engineering which is a more personal approach and there's, it's not a coincidence that our branch here has a lot of women because we tend to be good conflict resolution people, we tend to be good communicators, we tend to work well in the community, those are all skills that I have seen over the last 5 years in working with X that have become valued that weren't valued when I started here and I don't think that it's a coincidence that I have succeeded in this organization and that other women have succeeded in this organization with the changing of values (interview 18, female). This corresponds to the feminist model of engineering reviewed in Chapter Two (see section 2.4.1), which posits a less hierarchical and competitive approach to engineering (Carter and Kirkup, 1990). These responses seem to support the suggestion of feminist critiques of science and technology that women's approach reflects a less competitive way of relating to colleagues and a greater affinity to users. On the other hand, one woman discussed adapting her style to fit in and to be understand by men, i.e. a managed self-presentation to fit in. The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 121 I feel that they [men and women] definitely communicate in different way ... I find that the way that I communicate at work is different from the way I communicate on a personal level outside of work. I've had to very much tailor my style of communication to the way men interact so that they can understand where I'm coming from and also so that I , I feel that I do fit in more when I do that and it's hard to do that all the time. I find that things are more cut and dry with men, black and white and they're much more focused on the hierarchy of the organization and your position within that structure whereas I think women, they're not so focused on the hierarchy and what your position is (interview 22, female). This corresponds to the view that the culture of engineering values behaviours and orientations consistent with the male gender role in which women have to talk and act male to function in the work place and to fit in (Mcllwee and Robinson, 1991). Some of the literature on alternative styles of engineering and feminist models of engineering also propose that women's approaches reflect an 'other-oriented' relationship to nature and people and a more integrated, more holistic view of the world (Keller, 1985; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Sorensen, 1992). A number of women (7) did discuss a difference in perspective with regard to a consideration for social aspects and implications, that is to say a more contextual approach. I think women tend to be more aware of, of social aspects and tend to have a broader outlook on things than men. Q: "Do you feel that compared to some of your male colleagues you differ in that sense?" A : In terms of the way I look at things and the way I make decisions, yes (interview 33, female). I think going back to the other answer being more responsible socially and just being able to look at it on a broader scale and look at it in a different way than men look at it (interview 38, female). I don't think significantly. I think engineers whether they are male or female do the same kind of work. There's certainly, probably a little different focus on, on how projects are developed. I think women are more likely to consider social implications of, of the work they do, I think they are more in tune with that than young men are but I'm speaking from my era. I don't know about the men today (interview 7, female). Engineers were also asked what they take into consideration in doing their work. Factors such as financial budget, client's expectations and objectives, time budget, and regulatory codes were The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 122 cited most often. A quarter of the women (5), however, also cited social and environmental considerations and impacts. Seven of the women also felt that women's different approaches can lead to different end results. Two thought it might. Certainly there's a different way of approaching civil engineering, approaching how construction is done, what, what the, what values come into play when putting together a certain design (interview 23, female). I think it could make differences in how things are done, like, and I don't know why this just came to me, but things like street lighting, issues, like engineering departments that decide on these kind of things, like things like that, women have a perspective that men don't have so maybe the fact that, i f we were designing a neighbourhood, say we're doing civil or something, we would think of things that we would think important to us that they wouldn't think of and, and in that way things created by the profession would be more accessible to all. Of course that's just an example that came to mind but I'm sure there's lots of things like that (interview 9, female). Several of the female engineers (3) brought up the question of the number of women as a factor in this issue suggesting that higher numbers are necessary to introducing diffferent approaches and values. Another problem with women affecting change was the perceived conservative outlook of some women engineers and the difficulty of pushing a political agenda to improve the status of women in the profession. At least a quarter of the women (6) felt that change will only occur i f women are willing to take a stand and speak out. The difficulty with this is the recognition that one gets rewarded for conformity and "not causing trouble." I guess i f you, women who are prepared to stand up and, it's hard because you get labeled for being a trouble maker, but as long as women don't speak up then you're not going to see change and men aren't going to assist in that area ... numbers play a role so i f more women go into engineering that would help and I think you can't rely on management in a company for putting women in more responsible roles ... what companies tend to do is you know they'll look for, ok say we have this vp so we'll look for someone that will not, isn't going to raise any problems and ok so we'll put this individual there and this individual isn't going to do anything for other employees (interview 4, female). The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 123 It's hard because you know, talk about stereotypes I'm going to make one, I know about all the diversity but I find that there are a certain percentage of women in engineering who are very conservative and in my perspective who don't want to make waves, don't want to point fingers at their colleagues and, and don't want to tarnish the profession. So the, I think the changes will come as women demand more and as the men demand more too, i f they take some responsibility and i f society in general takes responsibility I think that'll, that is when the changes will come ... It just depends on the perspective, you know the whole phrase I had before "designed by men for men", it's not because they're trying to exclude people. It's just, you know, there's 20 of them sitting around the table and what they think, they all have consensus ... That by diversifying the workplace that, that products that are generated and things that are created will be more representative of the needs of all of society and, and accessible... It depends on how you approach it because lots of times they come in and it depends on their views. You know, there's some women who come into the system and they're honorary men and succeed. Well, they've hardly changed anything ... It's hard because you are rewarded for conformance. The more you conform the more you're going to be rewarded so just because you get more women in ... doesn't mean you're going to have change necessarily. It depends i f they try to shake it up a bit (interview 9, female). Yeah, it will certainly change the image of engineering ... certainly women are going to have to adapt, but we will also slowly change it. It's, you know when you're a student you can either be one of the boys or fight against it and when you fight against it you don't have a lot of friends but slowly as more women are in there it will be easier to do that so it's the same thing in management (interview 13, female). You'd have to have significant numbers like half and half. You might see a lot more changes in terms of flexible working options ... If it ever got to the 50-50 point then I think you'd see a much broader spectrum of different types of people, but at the moment engineering self-selects the kind of people, that attracts, which are. I don't see women, the ones that I know, making, being any different than the men that I know in the profession (interview 23, female). There are women in a senior position right now. I don't see too many of them actually trying to help other women along. I don't know i f it's because of they're in a position where they can't provide the assistance or there's simple resistance (interview 4, female). Thus, a number of the women (3) felt that numbers play a role in affecting change. Others (6) thought this alone will not be enough and felt that change depends on whether women are willing to speak up rather than conform and become "honorary men." As illustrated by several of the above quotes, several women (3) noted that they do not see many women who are in a position (management) to help other women trying to do so. A couple of women (2) further The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 124 made the observation that management selects and promotes individuals who conform and fit the mould. Even women who thought women would change engineering mentioned the cost of having a political agenda. Several of the women (4) mentioned the burden for change lies on the shoulders of women engineers with little help from their professional association, corporate culture or male colleagues, even though men will also benefit from advocated changes. Women, their approach is different, maybe to management and human issues, they tend to want to consult more and work in teams and make things work instead of being confrontational all the time so in terms of just the organization say in my company you had a few women at the senior level, I think things would might be different in terms of how it's run, more open, more flexible because they need it with the children and it's probably more accepting socially for them to be asking rather than, a man might want flexibility but he will never ask. I know of men in my company who would like to work less or have flexibility but they're all wait for me to say it because they know that their career would be jeopardized, even more than mine maybe because it's less socially acceptable whereas so i f there's more and more women and there's more of us asking for these things, these things are happening slowly. The whole profession is changing, they are looking at flexibility, they're looking at putting maybe family at a higher level, so i f they can see that a woman can achieve as much and get as much respect without being there 24 hours a day maybe that will affect their thinking that you need to work 60, 80 hours a week to be a good engineer because you don't. You need to efficient. The ideal engineer image will change. I think communication skills will improve and just human interaction will improve because from what I see a lot of men are lacking those qualities for some reason. I don't know what it is. If that kind of a person gets attracted to engineering or i f it's the training that makes them so insular so technically oriented that they don't want to talk to anyone. I think it's again the communication aspect and the human interaction aspect that are different. Technical work is no different, it has to get done, same way usually or in the most efficient way but how you go about it, how you try to make the whole team work and how you try to motivate other people seems to be different (interview 8 , female). Similar to several of the men, some of the women (2) appeared ambivalent with regard to different work styles between men and women. On the one hand, differences in communication and interpersonal styles and different perspectives were discussed, but on the other hand these were not equated with differences in technical results. Several women engineers (3) felt that this different style is becoming valued and recognized as a strength rather than a weakness within The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 125 their niche of engineering. This quote, albeit lengthy, illustrates one woman's growth process very well. I think understanding the corporate culture, understanding a male-oriented environment, having sort of a differing mind set is now being valued but has not been valued over the years, and I, I guess I sort of I think in the past beat myself up quite a bit because I couldn't understand why, maybe I wasn't understood or, or, why is this so difficult, can't everybody else see that my point of view, realizing that the point of view, understanding that being still able to be myself and get myself through it. ... Over the number of years I've had a number, I mean there are a number of what I call those key turning points for me where all of a sudden you get a realization that people are really seeing things from a different point of view. I had been working on a major construction project and my boss took me aside one time, I think it was a performance evaluation and said: you're doing really well and you seem to really understand the technical issues, it's just that your style is not quite right, you're just too soft on people and I didn't know what soft on people meant and, and I understood, you know we had quite a discussion around it, he said well you know you go into meetings and you listen to people and you, you know instead of going in there and telling people how things are supposed to be done and it's interesting and I've had this discussion with this fellow who, who I have always had great respect for but he has now come to appreciate the work that I do and we're now at the same level in the organization and he says: you know, your approach of actually sitting down and consulting and working out conflicts before they happen works better than my way of going in and telling people how it's supposed to work from my point of view and then dealing with all of the problems that come afterwards when people haven't bought into my solution so there was kind of one those, I call it a key turning point for me like it was a point where I had to sit down and say, yeah this is how I handle things. I'm not ever going to be able to, I can't personally make myself handle it in the way that has been traditional in this field so I either have to decide that I'm going to persist with my personal style or I'm going to have to look for somewhere else where my personal style is, is more the norm or a different profession where my personal style is more the norm and as I said it was one of those key, key realization times, that was on where I decided no you know I feel ok about the way I'm handling things. It's different but it's not bad and I'm going to keep persisting. Q: "Where you worried this was going to affect whether you were going to advance or not?" A : Oh, of course. But it came down to a point where I personally had to decided could I get up every morning and live with myself. I could not live with myself i f I was going to be one of those rough, gruff instruction engineers who was going to get every morning and tell people how things were going to be done my way when I realized I didn't have all of the answers and I was going to have more of a consultative style even i f that wasn't the norm and I was going to be viewed as weak, but people, other people's definitions of weak would just have to change because I could be very strong on the issues that I have, you know that we personally The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 126 have come to some agreement on so... when you're talking about building a high-rise or building a road whatever there have been some pretty traditional ways of handling those type of projects and there have been a really directive style of, of management or project management that has been the norm, and I was not personally comfortable with that so I was changing things... I think that it, personally I have always found that it does make a difference,... The actual end result and how quickly it is that you get there, how much buy in you get from the people who are working with you. You're not, it would really depend on what type of project you're working on...I think that the women engineers have a better, have been socialized to be more concerned about people issues so I think they, that we find that when you are put into these situations, we tend to not say well that's part of that. We tend to think that ok well what I'm doing here has an impact here socially, I should think through that, I should think though. So we, we tend to think ok how I handle this problem technically will have a certain social impact and what is another technical solution I might have here that might lessen the social impacts. I think that women think through that a little bit easier. I think what we're seeing is that a lot of the male engineers, a number of the younger male , the younger male engineers are not having any difficulty with that. Some of the older engineers I think have gained experience whereby they recognize and appreciate the value of that, of that thought process and bringing those kind of issues into the equation ... My experience has been yes, that there has, what I'm seeing, obviously this is a big generalization, where you know I started from '82 was that there was a big chasm between the way I wanted to operate and the way I viewed other engineers operating practising the profession, and I'm talking more in the interpersonal sphere than the technical sphere because in the technical sphere besides the underlying things we talked about we were doing similar work. I have seen that difference decrease in time and I think that you have to, I think there's two things happening here. One is that I think things are actually changing and the other is that I'm getting a feeling, and obviously I wouldn't be progressing through this organization i f I wasn't valued. I'm getting the feeling others are valuing some of my views of the world and my view point of how to practice engineering but I also feel I've, there's something else which is happening which is that I've gained the technical expertise and that I have become experienced enough to be of value which was something that was not, so individual differences are more tolerated as you become more experienced in your technical ability as well so some of the things that were happening to me years ago were, were part of both the climate and my lack of experience and I'm seeing now that as I get older and my experience level is much higher that some of those other things that were difficulties are becoming less frequent and I think that those values are changing too (interview 18, female). This change in attitude toward different styles and appreciating its strength was a lengthy one. However, over half of the women (11) did not feel the end result of engineering would be different or felt they (2) did not know whether it would or not. The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 127 Thus, well over half of the men and women felt there were differences in work styles of men and women in engineering. The view that women may introduce in a different perspective was thought to slowly change the way engineering work is done and the organization of the engineering work environment. Many of the differences in work styles between men and women commented on by the participants were stereotypical behavioural differences between men and women. The main differences cited were communication and interpersonal skills, a more team-oriented approach, and favouring a consensual approach over conflict or a hierarchical model for decision-making. Many of these differences refer to behaviour which has traditionally been appropriated as either masculine or feminine, and thus, convey gender stereotypes of gender appropriate behaviour. A few men (2) versus a third of the women (7) felt that differing perspectives can lead to different end results. 6.6 Conclusion Discussions on the process of change and the possibility of alternative styles of engineering illuminated differences between the experiences and perceptions of men and women perhaps more than other topics on which participants were polled. The preceding chapters have shown that from a sample of forty open-ended interviews clear patterns are difficult to obtain. This is evident in the variety of responses documented in this study. Nevertheless, through conducting the interviews and the analysis of data several themes seem to emerge. In order to fully understand the differences and perceptions between men and women, further directed research probing the following themes is required. Men and women were in agreement over the need for change in regard to the status of the profession, remuneration, engineering education, and the organization of work (for example, flexible work option, parental leave). Women were more likely to address the need for change in the organization of the work environment. They also raised the need for a change in traditional attitudes and behaviour toward women in engineering and a more contextual approach to engineering. However, perceptions of the ideal engineer indicate the continuing identification The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering 128 between technical competence and the male gender role in that technical competence in engineering is still largely identified with characteristics (for example, objectivity, rationality, and non-emotional) feminist critiques have regarded as masculine (Keller, 1985; Harding, 1989; Longino, 1989; Carter and Kirkup, 1990; Wajcman, 1991; Sorensen, 1992). Characteristics such as rational, objective and analytical were often mentioned first and most frequently. Some attributes cited as personal strengths reflect the experience of working in a male-dominated environment. Attributes such as a tough skin or a sense of humour can be viewed as coping mechanisms; while personal attributes cited as drawbacks by women(too defensive, too aggressive, too bossy, too sensitive, too opinionated or political) seem to suggest engineers' gender identity is as much of a defining factor of appropriate professional behaviour as their professional identity as an engineer. Women were also much more likely to cite strong communication and interactional skills as personal assets. Participants think the presence of women in engineering will bring change to the profession. Moreover, women's responses from Chapters Five and Six indicate many of the women do perceive a need for change in the profession and feel a responsibility to contribute toward such change. The fact that engineers, men more so than women, feel changes will primarily occur along non-technical or social dimensions, such as the structure and culture of the work environment (for example communication and interactive styles, an increased understanding and appreciation of family values and responsibilities), indicates the prevalence of the approach to engineering as an objective value-free activity in which only 'constitutive' values are involved. Many participants drew distinctions between the relevance of personal values versus social or political values ('contextual' values). Most engineers thought their personal values shape their work behaviour referring to personal values such as work ethic, honesty or integrity rather than social and political values. They also distinguished the aspects of engineering work to which these values are relevant, and which dimensions of engineering work (social dimensions) women will change. For example, women were thought to favour a collective or consensual approach versus a hierarchical approach to the engineering workplace The Process of Change and Alternative Styles of Engineering ; 129 structure and a more cooperative versus competitive working relationship with colleagues. These perceived differences in work styles were anticipated to change the way engineering is done, but not the content. Only a couple of men and a third of the women thought differing perspectives, 'contextual' values, can lead to different end results. It is interesting to note is that a number of women feel that the practice of engineering should change toward a more contextual approach in that they would like to see more consideration and awareness of the social, context within which engineering takes place. A small group of women did reflect a preference for a more contextual approach to engineering throughout their discussion of changes they would like to see, the characteristics and values of the ideal engineer, what they consider in executing in project, and the relevance of their values. 130 CHAPTER 7 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Technology touches us al l . . . Yet how that touch feels - how we use technology, what technologies we think appropriate, whether a particular technology brings benefits or burdens, and to whom, whether it is useful or out of reach - is very much influenced by who we are: what gender, class, and race we are and where we live (Kirkup and Keller, 1992:1). Doing science differently requires more than just the will to do so and it would be disingenuous to pretend that our philosophies of science are the only barrier. Scientific inquiry takes place in a social, political and economic context which imposes institutional obstacles to innovation, let alone to the intellectual working out of oppositional and political commitments (Longino, 1989:55). The first quote suggests that rather than the product of objective, value-free engineering, technology is a cultural product and engineering a cultural practice; while the second quote draws attention to the context within which science, or in this case engineering, is practiced and constraints the culture and structure of the engineering work environment can present to the expression of different perspectives and work styles. The slowly increasing presence of women has led to a debate over the transformatory potential of women to engineering. However, as noted in Chapter One, the possibility of alternative styles of engineering raises other questions such as what alternative, gendered styles of engineering would look like, and what alternative styles would mean in terms of the practice and content of engineering (type of technology developed) or the organization and culture of the workplace. Other questions include whether engineers perceive the need for change in the profession or the practice of engineering, in particular whether women perceive the need for change and feel a responsibility for introducing such change? Few empirical studies, however, have been conducted to explore these issues. To learn about the role of engineers, in particular women, as agents of change, this study set out to Discussion and Conclusion 131 develop a better understanding of the work experiences of engineers, the relevance of values to work styles and behaviour or the translation of values into work behaviour, and the transformatory potential of women engineers based on the concept of alternative styles of engineering. Thus, this study contributes to our understanding of (1) the impact the presence of women may have on the profession in general, and (2) the changes women may bring to the practice and content of engineering by possibly bringing in values and perspectives thus far un-represented in engineering. The perception of the engineers in this study support the accuracy of Sorensen's (1992) analysis and Longino's (1989) assessment would seem accurate; given the present social structure of the industrial environment the possibility of alternative styles of engineering is partly dependent on whether alternative styles can be linked to profitability. Nonetheless, most engineers thought the organization and culture of the engineering work environment will change as a result of the presence of women in the profession. Well over half of the men (13) and women (16) felt there were differences in the work styles of men and women. This was thought to slowly change the practice, but not the content of engineering. Perceived differences in work styles in the practice of engineering were that women have better communication and interpersonal skills, women appear to favour a consenting, interactive, and cooperative working relationship with colleagues over a hierarchical and competitive one, and to some extent women appeared to have a more holistic approach. This latter aspect referred to a more contextual approach to engineering in that some engineers thought women were better at incorporating the big picture and concerns and needs of everyone involved in a project. These perceptions and experiences of the engineers with regard to gender differences in work styles evident in the practice of engineering correspond to ideas in feminist critiques on the masculine nature of the practice of science and engineering and the alternative styles women in science and engineering are theorized to contribute. Only a few men (2) and at least a third of the women (7), constituting approximately a quarter of the engineers, were supportive of the relevance of contextual values and that this Discussion and Conclusion 132 translates into the type of technology they produce and their approach to their work. The majority, however, did not perceive this to be the case or felt ambivalent as to whether it would or not. One reason appears to be the approach to engineering as an objective, value-free activity and the distinction drawn between what values are relevant to work (personal versus contextual values) and to which aspects of engineering work values are relevant (social or non-technical aspects versus technical aspects). Thus, most of engineers (38) thought personal values such as honesty, work ethic, and integrity shape work behaviour, but not contextual values such as social and political values. Values were perceived to influence aspects of work behaviour related to the process of doing engineering and the culture and organization of the engineering work environment, but not the kind of technology produced. Examples offered were the nature of working relationships with colleagues, decision-making models in teams, and a higher value and interest in flexible work options. Consequently, these were the areas women are anticipated to slowly change. These engineers felt that the presence of women will transform the culture of engineering, the structure of the engineering work environment, and the practice of engineering. As suggested by the idea of alternative styles of engineering, some of the women (7) do approach engineering with, different priorities and values thereby producing different technological knowledge and products; while they felt they do make different choices reflecting different perspectives and values. Not all women feel they are able to approach their work differently or able to introduce change as much as they would like. Some felt that they have tried and mentioned the costs of having a political agenda or different work styles. Several of the women (3) with at least 10 years of work experience felt there is slowly more acceptance and appreciation for different (alternative) styles in the workplace today. Thus, despite the rewards for conformity or benefits to 'secondary' socialization in the culture of engineering, Sorensen's (1992) problem of translation does not always appear to be the case. In spite of the cost associated with different styles of engineering perceived by women (slower rate of advancement, not meeting criteria for success and advancement modeled on male patterns of work behaviour), Discussion and Conclusion 133 a third of the women (7) did feel they have different work styles including a recognition of contextual values in their work behaviour. Furthermore, women shared broader career aspirations. Objectives such as improving the environment, being a role model, breaking stereotypes, setting precedents for flexible work options and parental leave, breaking into management, or 'proving women can cut it' were mentioned in addition to career aspirations they shared with their male colleagues. As indicated by many of these objectives, the majority of the women shared career objectives concerning the integration of women in engineering, improving the status of women in engineering, and changing the existing gendered opportunity structures. These variations indicate what would appear to be the relevance of social and political values (contextual values) or what Longino (1989) would call practising engineering as a feminist rather than a woman although few of the women referred to themselves as such. It further indicates women do feel a responsibility for affecting change in their profession and strive to accomplish reform despite potential costs to one's career and the resistance or constraints the structure and culture of the engineering work environment present. Thus, in congruence with the assessment of Wajcman (1991) and Sorensen (1992), women felt power and gender relations need to change. However, contrary to the views of Wajcman (1991), Sorensen (1992), and Longino (1989) views, some women did feel that within the constraints of a profit or client-driven, industrial environment, they contribute different technological interests and different values and perspectives. Sources of job satisfaction, disciplinary preferences, and preferences in the nature of engineering employment further attest to gender differences and partially appear to be an expression of different values. Some women also cited career objectives as motivating factors in educational disciplinary choices. Moreover, approximately a third of the women (7) thought the role engineering plays in society partially influenced their decision; while approximately a third of the women (7) were of the opinion that their contextual values (social and political values) influenced their career decision. Women also acknowledged the constraints within which disciplinary 'choices' were made. Both sexes recognized the existence of a hierarchy of Discussion and Conclusion 134 disciplines within engineering which render some disciplines more masculine, or more appropriate and accepting. Hence, some of the women mentioned a consideration for the variation in opportunities by disciplines. Gendered opportunity structures and gendered work experiences also produced differences between men and women with regard to career choice satisfaction and career planning. Men discussed lack of job stability, status, and adequate remuneration as reasons for not choosing engineering again and for considering leaving the profession. Women only cited such issues as sources of job dissatisfaction and changes they would like to see in the profession. They cited gendered opportunity structures, the social structure of the engineering work environment, and other gender-related experiences and issues as reasons for not choosing engineering again and considering leaving the profession. Hence, these women and men considered leaving the field for different reasons, which implies the need for different measures to retain men and women engineers. Most women were less optimistic about attaining their career aspirations than men. Thus, work experiences differed with regard to career aspirations and prospects, job satisfaction, whether they would choose engineering again, and reasons for leaving the field. It is ironic to cite the introduction of different values, perspectives, and work styles in engineering as a benefit of the increasing presence of women in the profession in a society where such values, perspectives and work styles are not valued as highly as those associated with the male gender role. Many of the issues faced by women engineers are concerns for women in the work force in general. Social realities with regard to family responsibilities differ such that women are still primarily responsible for child care. Women in the work force need flexible work options and parental leave, but struggle to establish such policies. They also struggle with the stigma associated with taking parental leave, which continues to be regarded as a sign of lesser commitment to an organization or one's career. Women engineers do not differ in this regard with women in the work force in general. Discussion and Conclusion 135 Furthermore, gendered social structure, power relations, opportunity structures, and work place culture favouring masculine characteristics and behaviour associated with the male gender role in engineering are a symptom of the nature of gender relations in society. Thus, the efforts to restructure the structure and cultures of workplaces by introducing family values and by changing the gendered nature of power relations and opportunity structures are symptomatic of efforts for such change in society at large. These issues of justice and equity concern the need to value diversity in the work force by learning to value the skills and talents women have to offer and acknowledging the different social realities of men and women. The need to change the gendered power relations, and structure and culture of workplaces is essential for the integration of women in the work force at large. Insights yielded by this study need to be qualified in that the study was exploratory in nature and interpretations are based on a small non-random sample. Thus, although it provides empirical research in answer to issues thus far explored mostly in a theoretical manner, the nature of the sample decreases the generalizability of these insights and restricts the findings to this study. Hence, additional research is needed to develop our understanding of these issues, to build on the engineers' ideas and perceptions documented in this study, and to expand these insight beyond the scope of the present study. The findings in this study raise a number of questions for future research. Our understanding of the process of change and the process of integration of women would benefit from subsequent research which explores the process of redefinition of a discipline from pure engineering to 'soft' engineering and the role the presence of women in such a field plays in the process of redefinition. More research is also needed in the area of disciplinary and subsequent employment choices. As suggested by Sorensen and Berg (1987) masculinization appears to vary by discipline. There was the perception among a number of engineers that the expression of alternative styles of engineering with regard to different contextual values varies by discipline. It was suggested that alternative styles of engineering are more relevant in particular disciplines such as environmental engineering. Given the motivations for disciplinary Discussion and Conclusion 136 preferences and employment preferences expressed by a number of women, it may be the case that the potential for expressing or employing different styles of engineering is a factor in disciplinary and employment choices. Another useful contribution would entail research with regard to attrition. Polling engineers who have left the field would indicate whether motivating factors for leaving correspond to issues cited by engineers in this study as reasons for considering leaving the field. Such knowledge would benefit the development of measures for retention. One concern is the need to explore and incorporate the relevance of demographic factors such as ethnicity or age in our understanding of the idea of alternative styles of engineering. For example, years of work experience appeared to contribute to women's awareness of gendered work styles. Several women pointed out that it took a long time to recognize differences in work styles and how these affected their place in the engineering work environment in terms of identification with other engineers and rate of progress. However, the present study only explored gender-based differences. Future studies should expand this one by including other demographic factors. Women also felt that different values and work styles had slowed down their rate of progress and promotions. Thus, a better understanding needs to be developed of the effects of alternative styles of engineering on career progress in a male-dominated and defined profession where criteria of success, interactional style and style of communication favoured, and the image of an engineer are imbued with masculine values. In analysis, the course for future research requires both a broader survey of alternative styles of engineering to allow for a better development of the complexity and variety of alternative styles of engineering, and a deeper probe into the nature of gender differences and the effect of gender differences on women's career progress. This study explored the possibility of alternative styles of engineering. It differs from past research in that it explored Canadian engineers' perceptions of gendered work styles and values thus contributing to our understanding of the changes women may bring to the practice and content of engineering, and the impact the presence of women may have on the profession in general. Responses documented in this study show that engineers think the presence of women in Discussion and Conclusion 137 the profession will change the way engineering is done, the culture of engineering, and the structure of the engineering workplace. 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Ideology Relevant technological knowledge Social masculinity Dominates nature Linear Non-dependent recognition Objective Hierarchical Logical Non-relevant technological knowledge Social feminity Is part of nature Iterative/spiral Dependent recognition Subjective Non-hierarchical Emotional 2. Strategy Un-think traditional ways Re-think with all senses Develop new ideas Take courage to speak and act upon them 3. Vision Complete technological knowledge Integrated and transcendent Social masculitnity and femininity Respect for nature and basic existence Dynamic A whole rationality Holitistic recognition Respect and acceptance Equality Source: Based on Kolmos, 1987. 147 uncomfortable questions at any point during the interview. You have the right to refuse to participate or withdraw at any time. I wil l contact you by phone approximately a week after you have received this letter to inquire whether you are interested and willing to be a part of the study. If you would like to participate, a day and time for an interview wil l be scheduled at your convenience. I have enclosed a consent form which i f you agree to be interviewed, I will collect when we meet. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and assistance. Sincerely, Anne van Beers M . A . graduate student Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology University of British Columbia 149 Consent: I agree to be interviewed for the project Gender and Engineering: Work Norms and Preferences. Yes No I give my permission to have the interview tape recorded. Yes No I acknowledge that I have received a copy of this consent form for my own records. Signature of interviewee THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION AND COOPERATION. APPENDIX A Interview Schedule 150 Interviewer's number Date of interview Place of interview Time/length of interview Sex! F M INTERVIEW SCHEDULE The purpose of this conservation is to understand some of the aspects of the work experiences of engineers. I would like to learn more about your work preferences, and your thoughts on the structure of your work environment to understand the nature and process of occupational change. I. DEMOGRAPHICS To start with, I would like to get some background information. Field of engineering: . Professional status: _ Marital status: Partner's occupation: Country of birth: Ethnic background: _ # of children: Age of children: First language: Year of birth: Highest level of education attained: University and year: : : II. HISTORY OF JOBS IN ENGINEERING I would like some information about your employment history prior to your current job, starting with the one previous to your current job, following with the job before that one, etc.: (probe: job title, years of employment, type of industry, job description, reasons for leaving) 1. How many years have you been employed as an engineer? III. WORK CHARACTERISTICS Professional duties, responsibilities, working conditions and job characteristics I'd like to continue with some questions concerning your current job and workplace. 1. What is your current job title? 2. In what area are you employed (research & design/sales/management,etc.)? 3. Roughly how many people are employed in your company? 4. a. How many engineers? 4. b. Women engineers? 5. What are your main activities? 6. Could you give me an account of how you structure a typical workday? 7. Could you explain the chain of command in your company and department? 8.1 would like to have an idea of your daily activities by having you fill in a time table. 152 TIME TABLE Please consider your entire range of responsibilities from day to day. Attempt to account as accurately as possible for the relative percentage of time devoted to various administrative and technical functions. Before each item below, please write the approximate percentage of time spent in the responsibility described. ( %) 1. Inspection of the organization — direct observation and personal inspection of installations, buildings, equipment, facilities, operations, services or personal ~ for the purpose of determining conditions and keeping informed. ( %) 2. Investigation and research — accumulation/preparation of information and data. ( %) 3. Planning — preparing for and making decisions that will affect the aims or future activities of the organization. ( %) 4. Preparation of procedures and methods — acts involving the mapping of procedures and methods for putting new plans into effect, as well as devising new methods for the performance of operations under existing plans. ( %) 5. Coordination -- acts and decisions designed to integrate and coordinate the activities of units within the organization or of persons within units. ( %) 6. Evaluation -- acts involving the consideration and evaluation of reports, correspondence, data, plans, divisions, or performances in relation to the aims, policies, and standards of the organization. ( %) 7. Interpretation ofplans and procedures — interpretation and clarification for assistants and other personnel of directives, regulations, practices, and procedures. ( %) 8. Supervision of technical operations — acts involving the direct supervision of personnel in the performance of duties. ( %) 9. Personnel activities -- selection, training, evaluation, motivation or disciplining of individuals, as well as acts designed to affect the morale, motivation, loyalty, or harmonious cooperation of personnel. ( %) 10. Public relations — acts designed to inform outside persons, regarding the program and functions of the organization, to obtain information regarding public sentiment, or create a favourable attitude toward the organization. ( %) 11. Professional consulting -- giving professional advice and specialized assistance on problems of a specific or technical nature to persons within or outside the organization. ( %) 12. Negotiations — purchasing, selling, negotiating contracts or agreements, settling claims. ( %) 13. Scheduling, routing, and dispatching — initiating action and determining the time, place, and sequence of operations. ( %) 14. Technical and professional operations -- the performance of duties specific to your profession. ( %) 15. Marketing/Sales ( %) 16. Other — please specify (100 %) Total time spent in major responsibilities. 153 IV. ATTITUDES TOWARD TECHNOLOGY I'm curious about your views on technology and its purpose, and the appeal of engineering to you, so I wil l ask you some questions related to these issues. 9. What were some of the original reasons which made engineering appealing and interesting to you? 10. What attracted you to your particular area of specialization? (vs. other subspecialties) 11. In your opinion, what is the role of technology and the importance of technology today (R&D)? 12. Do you think there is a social and/or societal value to engineering? How about your particular specialization in engineering? (probe: use/definition of concept of value to you) 13. Do you think your views on and attitudes toward technology influenced your choice of profession? (probe: role/importance of values) 14. How does your work in engineering compare to what you expected it to be before you started working as an engineer? (probe: content/nature of work) 15. How would you describe the engineering work your organization does? On a 5 point scale would you consider it routine engineering work or cutting-edge engineering work? routine cutting-edge 1 2 3 4 5 16. What do you hope to accomplish as an engineer on both a personal and professional level? (probe: goals and objectives, and career aspirations) 17. How good do you think your chances are of achieving these goals and career aspirations? (probe: within present company vs. within the profession) 154 V. WORK EXPERIENCES AND JOB SATISFACTION I would like to look at your work experiences and career expectations now with the following questions. 18. Based on your work experiences as an engineer would you choose engineering again as a profession i f you had the choice? {probe: switch subfields— which/different job, why or why not) (1) no (2) yes (3) don't know (4) conditional 19. What is it that you like/dislike about being an engineer ? 20. Do you expect to be in this line of work (i.e. engineering) in the next (1) 1 to 5 years (2) 5 to 10 years (3) 10 to 15 years (4) > 15 years (5) undecided {probe: alternative plans, and reasons for considering the pursuit of career paths outside of engineering) 21. What do you think of the criteria for promotion and career advancement in your company? {probe: clear/good criteria ~ i f not, what would be a better/fair evaluation of quality of job performance) VI. AUTONOMY AND CONTROL IN THE WORKPLACE Let's continue by looking more closely at your current work environment and job characteristics. 22. Are you able to determine yourself how to go about your job? {probe: amount of control to do job in the most effective way) (1) always (2) usually (3) sometimes (4) never 23. How many important aspects of your work do you design and implement yourself? (1) all (2) many (3) a few (4) none 155 24. Are there any constraints on the way you design and implement your work? (probe: does it bother you — why?) VII . W O R K S T Y L E S A N D O R I E N T A T I O N S I'm interested in your opinion on the nature of your work and your work preferences. The following questions concern your impressions regarding occupational changes. 25. Which kinds of things do you take into consideration in planning and executing a project? (probe: consequences/purpose/commercial interests/safety issues/environmental impact/interests of different parties involved etc.) 26. Do you think there are changes needed to the engineering profession or the current practice of engineering? (probe: what changes) (1) no (2) yes (3) conditional (4) don't know 27. Which of your personal characteristics and skills do you consider to be a strength/drawback in engineering or for your work as an engineer? (probe: relevant values) 28. What values and characteristics do you think a good engineer or the ideal engineer should posses? 29. Do you feel some of your personal values influence the way you approach your work and the work you do as an engineer? (probe: work styles/orientations) 156 30. It has been suggested that engineers' roles today consist of considering social, political, and economic factors in their work besides being technically competent; consequently, broad intellectual interests, psychological attitudes, social concerns and personal values are required for this new role. * Do you feel the roles of engineers are changing or that the profession is undergoing such a change? {probe: things taken into consideration, positive or negative, how change would occur otherwise - i.e. government regulation) The population of engineers is slowly changing. One example is the rising number of women in the profession. I would like to know your thoughts on these changes and its possible effects for engineering. [Demographic composition of the engineering profession] 31. Women engineers tend to be better represented in particular areas of specialization in engineering. Do you think there are particular subfields for which men and women seem particularly suited or in which they seem more successful for any reason? [Yes - No] Why? 32. Do you think that the increasing number of women in the profession wil l change engineering? (probe: content, way engineering is conducted, and why/how) 33. Do you think there are differences in work styles and work orientations between men and women engineers? (probe: work behaviour characteristics, i.e. communication styles, interactional styles —positive or negative ~ impact on engineering work environment) 34. Do you think your sex as a man/woman has affected your career in any way? (probe: family obligations) 35. How well do you think women are doing in the engineering profession? (probe: increasing numbers, treatment of women, integration, contributions) 157 Q U E S T I O N N A I R E VIII. This section deals with issues such as job characteristics, workplace structure, and career expectations. This short questionnaire will add to and enhance the amount of information of the preceding interview on your impressions concerning occupational change and the role and value of technology in society today. A, For the following statements, please circle a number to indicate to which extent you agree or disagree: 1. Engineers have a moral responsibility regarding the technology they take part in making 2. New technology usually leads to improvements in society 3. Too little money is spent in Canada to develop new technology 4. Technology is too seldom used to solve common, current problems that affect people 5. Technology should be oriented towards solving social problems (i.e. environmental pollution, transportation problems, health problems, depletion of natural resources) strongly agree 1 agree un-decided dis-agree strongly disagree B. Please circle a number to indicate how often are you bothered by the following: almost often 1. feeling that you have an important job to do but not being able to carry it through, because you lack authority to make sure the right steps are taken 2. knowing a better way to get a job done but not being able to get management to listen 3. not knowing what opportunities for advancement or promotion exist for you 4. feeling that people at your level have no say in the matter 5. feeling that you have become classified by management as a person who cannot handle broader responsibilities 6. lack of autonomy or control over aspects of your work 7. feeling misemployed 8. lack of freedom for creativity and/or innovation 9. feeling underutilized 10. feeling that management priorities, structure, and organization detract from technical performance 11. disparities in the distribution of high-quality job assignments always 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 some-times almost never 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 un-decided 158 C Please indicate to what extent you agree or disagree with the following statements by circling a number: strongly agree un- dis- strongly agree decided agree disagree I. Sometimes I feel my job counts for very little 2.1 have little opportunity to use my abilities in this organizatiGn 3. Poor working conditions keep me from doing my best in my work 4. The people I work with get along well together 5.1 have plenty of freedom on the job to use my own judgement 6. The people who get promotions around here usually deserve them 7. M y job is often dull, boring, and monotonous 8. The working conditions are good 9. Suggestions for change and innovations are ignored 10. The work environment is well organized II. There is too little variety in my job 12.1 have too small a share in deciding matters that affect my work 13. My job means more to me than just money 14.1 am satisfied with the work I do 15. M y job gives me a chance to do what I do best 16. People feel like they belong where I work 17. some conditions concerning my job could be improved 18.1 find real enjoyment in my work 19.1 am disappointed that I ever took this job 20. M y work gives me a sense of accomplishment 21.1 like the sort of work I do 22.1 consider my work important & challenging 23.1 am paid appropriately for the work I do in comparison to other engineers 24.1 feel there is a double standard for the evaluation of work performance and quality of work in my company 2 2 2 2 . 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 159 D. For the following statements, please circle the number which best expresses your degree of satisfaction. very satisfied un- dis- very satisfied decided satisfied dissatisfied 1. How satisfied are you with your current job? 1 2 3 4 5 2. The career choices you have made? 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 3. The control you have over your work? E. 1. How much do you participate in policy-making decisions in your place of work? (1) all decision-making (2) most decision-making (3) some decision-making (4) none, but I provide advice to decision-makers (5) none 2. How much influence do you have on the choice of projects on which you are asked to work? (1) a lot (2) some (3) a little (4) none 3. Do you get to work on the kinds of problems or projects you are interested in? (1) always (2) usually (3) sometimes (4) never 4. Do you feel there is room for advancement in your work place? (1) not at all (2) somewhat (3) yes (4) don't know 5. Do you feel there are equal opportunities for men and women for advancement in your current workplace? (1) not at all (2) somewhat (3) yes (4) don't know 6. Do you think there are equal opportunities for men and women in general in the engineering profession? (1) not at all (2) somewhat (3) yes (4) don't know 160 F. Please circle a number to indicate how important attaining each of the following objectives is to you in your work as an engineer and your career? very not importan important 1. a management position 2. supervisory responsibilities etc. 3. gaining technical expertise 4. have the opportunity to explore new ideas and methods about technology 5. learn administrative methods and procedures 6. participate in decisions that set the direction of technical effort in the company 7. contribute to advancements in technological knowledge 8. receiving recognition for you achievements 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 G. Which of the following do you expect to give the most satisfaction in your life. Please rank the top 5 items of the following list with number 1 as the most important and number 5 the least important. . current professional career family personal relations, other than family community activities leisure activities volunteer activities religious involvements other professional activities, specify: _ _ other involvements, specify: Thank you for your time and effort in completing this interview and short questionnaire. Your contribution to this study is greatly appreciated. 161 IX. FINAL COMMENTS This interview and short questionnaire dealt primary with occupational change and your impressions of the profession in regard to the changing population of engineers, work styles and the way the work environment is organized, and some of your thoughts on the role and value of technology in today's society. Are there any thoughts, questions or ideas that came up for you during the interview or in the questionnaire that you would like to elaborate on or which you feel should have been addressed. My method for finding potential participants is mainly through networking and references. Is there anybody you can think of who might be willing and interested in participating in this study? (1) Name: Address: Phone: (2) Name: Address: Phone: (3) Name: Address: Phone: THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS STUDY. 

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