Tag Archives: geophysics

Episode 49 — Women in Engineering

women_engineersIn a conversation with electrical engineer Cherish Bauer-Reich, we consider factors that encourage or dissuade women from entering the engineering profession.

  • Over the past thirty years, Jeff has seen a definite increase in the number of women attending engineering school.
  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) reports that women now comprise around 14% of the U.S. engineering workforce, as compared with less than 6% in the early 1980s.
  • Our guest is electrical engineer Cherish Bauer-Reich, who specializes in electromagnetics, antennas, and RFID systems.
  • Cherish authors a blog titled, “Faraday’s Cage is where you put Schroedinger’s Cat.”
  • Carmen mentions that North Carolina is dealing with a rare snowstorm, and the results are not pretty.
  • Our guest is working on her PhD in the area of geophysics.
  • Cherish says she notices distinct differences between the problem-solving approaches of scientists and engineers.
  • In her early college experiences, Cherish says she encountered open hostility from those who felt women did not belong in science and engineering courses.
  • In many cases, our guest points out, the slights to women are not intentional; one example is an IEEE headline about the Arduino being so easy that “even your Mom can program.”
  • While the percentage of women in her Physics and Electrical Engineering courses have remained in the range of 10-20%, Cherish says that there is a much higher percentage of women in the field of geology.
  • Cherish believes that the mentoring of students by faculty members has a significant influence on the number of women that stay in a particular field.
  • When she talked with friends and mentors about pursuing an engineering degree, our guest was advised on several occasions to avoid the engineering profession.
  • In high school, Cherish was dissuaded from taking math and science classes by school counselors.
  • Carmen mentions a blog post, “I only wear goggles while swimming,” in which Cherish references a story concerning the reaction of middle-school students to learning about the lives of scientists.
  • Blogging, and communicating with others through the internet, helped our guest deal with some difficult times.
  • There was a dustup over a Reddit comment concerning the EEweb interview that featured Cherish.
  • Adam inquires as whether there are regional differences in the sexism that women face.
  • Not only is Cherish married to an engineer, but she gets to work with her husband as well.
  • Carmen presses our guest on how she represents imaginary numbers; the electrical engineering “j,” or the wrong way.
  • Cherish has mixed feelings about the “pinkification” of toys and tools intended to encourage girls to develop an interest in science and engineering.
  • Carmen notes a recent video, intended to motivate young women to pursue science careers, that received criticism as being “offensive” and “insulting.”
  • An ad for Goldieblox, set to music by the Beastie Boys, is also mentioned.
  • Jeff mentions a recent newspaper article that discusses the inability of engineers to effectively share engineering’s positive influence has on human welfare, especially with girls and women.
  • Cherish can be found on Twitter, and at her blog.

Thanks to UN Women for the photograph titled “Solar engineering student from Malawi, training in India.” Podcast theme music provided by Paul Stevenson.