Women in engineering—a mixed message

Having been married to a female P.Eng. for almost 20 years, I can attest that there are gender biases in the workplace. We also have several young female engineers working (at Tacoma) in structural consulting—a male-dominated field—and I see their struggles. It is real. However, I am strongly opposed to people establishing targets such as 30 by 30 (“Navigating the glass obstacle course,” Engineering Dimensions, January/February 2018, p. 6). I have nothing against working on marketing strategies, etc., that promote engineering as a field for young women (high school) to explore. What I fear is that people begin to use these programs to select candidates based on gender rather than merit (you can also apply this to minorities). I sincerely hope that anyone reading this 30 by 30 message carefully consider the implications and have an open-book approach so that their decisions are based on merit alone. We all need to be cognitive of our internal biases and be able to justify our decisions. But, when it really matters, are you passing over better candidates simply to meet a gender mandate? Think of a male university applicant who finds out they were on the wrong side of a selection process because of programs like this. What makes one person better than another? Gender? Race? I sincerely hope not. Please use the same criteria applied to everyone.

Steven Adema, P.Eng., Guelph, ON