SWE - National Survey about Engineering - (Page 20)
PROACTIVE STRATEGIES The Society of Women Engineers National Survey about Engineering SWE Retention Study and Work/Life Balance Extensive analysis of the SWE Retention Study and emerging research on work/life balance yields valuable insights and practical policymaking tools. BY LISA M. FREHILL, PH.D., COMMISSION ON PROFESSIONALS IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY I Work/life balance policies and work/life work arrangements help workers to combine employment with caring responsibilities and family, personal, or social life outside the workplace. s it really true that women are more likely than men to leave engineering once they get out of college and into the work force? To what extent can work/life policies increase retention of valuable employees? The SWE Retention Study went far in helping us to see the complex answers to the first question. In this article we will review some of the key findings from the SWE Magazine series about the retention study; show the family status for engineers at different career stages; and provide some information related to the work/life balance question. Over the past year, the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST) analyzed data from two sources: the SWE Retention Study, with data collected in 2005 by Harris Interactive, funded by SWE’s Corporate Partnership Council; and data managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on U.S. scientists and engineers. The 2005 questionnaire was modeled on one that had been completed by SWE in partnership with other professional engineering societies in 1991-1992. While the earlier survey used professional society membership lists to draw the sample, the new study sought to better understand why people left engineering. Thus a different sampling strategy was used in which engineering bachelor’s and master’s graduates of 25 engineering schools (24 U.S. and one Canadian) were surveyed, with more than 6,000 respondents. A series of six articles based on CPST’s analysis of these data appeared in SWE Magazine in 2007-2008. Because they were based on a survey of graduates of specific colleges and universities, the SWE data were limited in scope. Therefore, in order to validate the findings, NSF data from the 2003 Scientists and Engineers Statistical Analysis System (SESTAT) were used to examine engineering retention. These NSF data, though not perfect, are considered some of the best data about engineers and scientists in the U.S. labor force. With its focus on engineering retention, however, the SWE Retention Study involved many questions that were not asked in the SESTAT surveys. So the SESTAT data provided us with a benchmark to determine the extent to which the limited-sample SWE data might vary in comparison to the more general SESTAT population. As shown in Figure 1, both sources provided the same answer: Yes, women do leave engineering at a faster pace than men. Indeed, the SWE data actually seemed to show a slightly higher rate of retention than did the nationallevel SESTAT data. That is, the SWE data provide more conservative estimates of attrition. Even upon graduation, there is a gap in women’s and men’s participation in engineering: Less than three-fourths of men but only about 60 percent of women who responded to the SWE retention survey indicated that they were employed as engineers within the first three years of finishing college. By the time we look at people who graduated 18-20 years prior to the survey, only about one-third of women but about half of the men were still in engineering jobs. Further analysis revealed that 48 percent of women were still in engineering jobs, with men a little more likely to be employed as engineers (58 percent). One in 10 men but 22 percent of women were not in the labor force 20 SWE CPC EXCLUSIVE
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SWE - National Survey about Engineering
SWE - National Survey about Engineering
Are Women More or Less Likely than Men to be Retained in Engineering after College?
Is the Engineering Workplace “Warming” for Women?
Why Do Women Leave the Engineering Work Force?
The Leaky Science and Engineering Pipeline: How Can We Retain More Women in Academia and Industry?
Making Our Mark: Ensuring the Retention Study Results Reach the Right Audience
A Review of the Findings
Engineering Retention and Gender: Cross-Disciplinary Differences
SWE Retention Study and Work/Life Balance Exclusive to the Corporate Partnership Council
SWE - National Survey about Engineering