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The “gender gap” in employment is the subject of a recent study by an economist at Goldman Sachs, Kevin Daly (2007). Daly points out that “in labour force survey data across countries, the child care requirement is consistently the most commonly cited reason for female inactivity in the labour force” (p. 9) and argues that if levels of employment for women equalled those for men, gross domestic product could be raised by 21 percent in Italy, 19 percent in Spain, 16 percent in Japan, and 9 percent in Germany, France, and the United States (p. 5). Closing the gap between levels of male and female employment would also, he argues (p. 3), help to boost low fertility rates. . . . In countries where it is relatively easy to work and have children, female employment and fertility both tend to be higher. It is no coincidence that Italy and Japan have both the lowest levels of female employment and the worst demographic prospects. Chapte r 1 3 R Strategies for Equitable Workplaces 0014_Frize_5x8_B_v09_16_11_2009.indd 221 16/11/09 6:19 PM 222 THE BOLD AND THE BRAVE Daly’s findings support the notion that women can have both careers and children, and that their doing so can be good for the economy. Strategies to support the retention of women, and men, in the workforce while they are raising their families are key to the successful integration of women into workplaces in general, and scientific and engineering workplaces in particular. Hiring More Women in Science and Engineering Faculties When I was the only woman student in an engineering faculty in the 1960s, there were times when, in the middle of an electrical engineering class, I would ask myself: “What am I doing here?” However, I was determined to show that women could do the work. The pressure to succeed was enormous, because if I failed, it would be easy for the professors and the students to think that women did not belong among them. I found the material dry and somewhat boring at times, but because I enjoyed solving problems and wanted to help society, I persevered. Unfortunately, my first job, at a telecommunications company, did not bring me much satisfaction, so I stayed for only one year and then went overseas to study biomedical engineering. There has never been a boring day in my career since then. The conclusion I draw from my own experience is that engineering can be fascinating, but everyone has to find their own niche, the area where his or her interest lies. There are many choices of career paths, and not always in technical streams. Some engineers become patent agents, others are involved in technical writing, yet others can get involved in marketing and sales, safety, standards, design, client support, or one of many other areas. Professors can be of great help in counselling students about their choices in undergraduate and graduate studies, and their career paths, and in addressing the question of balancing personal life and work. In particular, they can 0014_Frize_5x8_B_v09_16_11_2009.indd 222 16/11/09 6:19 PM Strategies for Equitable Workplaces 223 help students to find where they fit best. For these purposes, having more women teaching and doing research in science and engineering faculties would provide role models and potential mentors for women undergraduates and graduate students. Although women faculty are not always aware of gender issues, they could still be good role models if they demonstrate competence and offer mentoring to students. Some students have never had a woman teaching them in these subjects, reinforcing the idea that such studies are only for men, and they may even question their own presence in these faculties. JoAnn Moody (2004) presents some of the myths and excuses used to avoid hiring new faculty from underrepresented groups, and recommends good practice for university presidents, provosts, deans, and academic departments. She suggests instituting a continuous, year-round recruitment process, accompanied by coaching and monitoring of search committees to ensure that their members understand equitable practices and comply with them. She also recommends measuring whether outcomes show progress towards increases in hiring from underrepresented groups; appointing a diversity committee; holding deans and department chairs accountable for increasing diversity; assisting faculty with spousal job hunting; and paying attention to the lifestyle concerns of candidates (Moody 2004, pp. 90–104). She also offers eight forms of good practice for academic search committees to help them in avoiding sloppy, biased thinking and decisionmaking , snap judgments and pretexts, and elitist behaviour...


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MARC Record
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