The low percentages of women in engineering are oft-cited statistics. For instance, only about 20% of
engineering graduates are female. But as
efforts intensify to increase the participation
of women, there’s a growing recognition of
obstacles that are either keeping women out
of the profession or causing them to leave.
One important one is sexual harassment.
Recent sexual harassment accusations
against high-profile figures and companies
have brought the issue to the forefront, and
the STEM arena is no exception. Prominent
scientists and academics have faced allegations; Silicon Valley companies have been
described as fostering sexual harassment
cultures; and a survey of women in tech in
the Silicon Valley/Bay area found that 60%
of respondents had experienced unwanted
But how pervasive is the issue among
engineers—and PEs in particular? And
what can be done to address the issue
PE magazine conducted its own nonscientific survey of NSPE members, gathering more than 500 responses. The results
may surprise some.
According to a frequently used definition from the Department of Education’s
As engineering attempts to attract more women,
the profession must address critical cultural issues.
Sexual harassment is one.
BY EVA KAPLAN-LEISERSON