New research finds that nearly two in five female engineers leave the profession or never enter it at all, with workplace culture cited as a top reason for the low retention rate. The data was announced at the American Psychological Association’s 2014 convention in Washington, D.C.
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, psychologist Nadia Fouad surveyed 5,300 women engineers, and found that 38 percent are not currently using their degree. Many of them cited unfriendly or even hostile work environments as a top reason for leaving the engineering profession.
Fouad found no significant difference between industry sub-fields. Based on her research, a woman working as a petroleum engineer in the oil and gas field likely faces many of the same workplace culture issues as one employed as a software engineer in Silicon Valley.
“What ultimately led me to [business] school and a non-engineering job was the lack of a viable career path (i.e. advancement) within the engineering organizations where I worked,” writes one anonymous survey respondent. “In addition to that, most engineering organizations have promotion/leadership funnels that are very, very narrow.”
If you are concerned about keeping your female engineers engaged and happy at work, consider investing in Mastery Technologies‘ array of inexpensive, user-friendly online training courses to help improve workplace culture. Courses on topics like workplace values and diversity can promote an inclusive atmosphere, while those on employee development, mentoring and coaching will help you to develop clear advancement opportunities for ambitious workers.
Elizabeth Bierman, president of the Society of Women Engineers, tells National Public Radio (NPR) that she thinks the biggest issue for both men and women engineers is a lack of work-life balance. Mastery Technologies also offers multiple courses on helping your company set reasonable expectations for employees, which can result in higher retention rates.