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2. ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY
“Research cannot reach its full potential when half the population is excluded from its activities”1. Women researchers in engineering remain a minority in both Higher Education and industry in Ireland. Recent statistics of women graduating in science and engineering indicated an increase (a slow increase) but the numbers moving through to completion of PhD and careers in academia or industry remain quite low. Statistics on women in professorial and senior positions within the engineering sector also remains low. The educated workforce produced in Ireland by its education system is acknowledged as a key factor in attracting international investment to the country and in the growth of the modern technological industries which has helped make Ireland one of the fastest growing economies globally. However, as a country Ireland would put this success at risk if it does not continue to develop its research and development capabilities. There has been much debate at national and European level ‘to boost gender equality in research through stimulating the participation of women in science and technological development; and fostering the integration of the gender dimension throughout European research.’ As a result, national and European research funding has been directed at this area. Two such project proposals have been submitted by the Dublin Institute of Technology, one through Science Foundation Ireland and the other at European level, through the Sixth European Framework, this was submitted in conjunction with other European Partners. In this paper, we will discuss a number of primary obstacles that our research has found most of our female encountered in our survey and interviews – how to balance the choice you choose. Some initiatives on the proposal based on the statistics survey to support women in engineering will also present and share among the academic community; it is hoped that the measures proposed will be of practical use for other academic communities who are affected by the under-representation of women. The overarching aim is that potential research insights from women will be encouraged and not neglected so “no great research” is overlooked. This paper may be of value to an American audience by (i) informing them of the situation regarding representation of women in engineering and science roles in Ireland; (ii) outlining a self-assessment exercise conducted at Dublin Institute of Technology into research participation by women in science and engineering and (iii) highlighting a comprehensive range of proposed measures to redress gender imbalance in science, engineering and technologically related disciplines in DIT.
Chan, C., Murphy, M.:Women, Engineering and Research: Providing Choice and Balance. American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference, Chicago, USA. 18-21 June, 2006.