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Engineering: What suits girls best

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The Hindu | |  T. Muralidharan |  Engineering: What suits her best |

Trends indicate women are inclined to taking up IT jobs. They can do well in non-IT disciplines too. But, to ensure a long-term career, here’s what they should consider before choosing an engineering branch.

Recently, I attended a career fair organised by The Hindu Education Plus. At the event, I discovered that girls have 33 per cent of seats reserved for them in engineering colleges in almost all categories. However, the big question many of the parents were asking is which branch is actually suitable for their daughter? To find an answer for this question, let us first refine it. This leads to three questions:

  • Can a girl pursue and excel in any branch of engineering?
  • Can she get a suitable job in any branch of engineering after graduation?
  • Which branches of engineering are suitable for girls when they reach the age of 35, after they take up family responsibilities?

My answer to the first question is yes. In my mind, a girl who is good at studies can pursue any branch of engineering.

The second question prompted me to undertake a small research. I asked my team to pull out some data of female job-seekers with an engineering degree, aged between 22 and 27, from a popular job board. Here are the findings of my analysis of 188 random resumes.

Branches pursued: Computer science (45.76 per cent pursued it) is the most popular branch among girls, followed by Electronics (34.57 per cent), Electrical (14.3 per cent), Mechanical (3.72 per cent) and Civil (1.59 per cent) engineering. I am a bit surprised by this low percentage of girl students completing their civil or mechanical engineering.

Jobs after graduation: Of the 188, 78.19 per cent have taken up jobs in the areas of IT hardware or IT software, irrespective of the engineering branch they pursued; 12.81 per cent have taken up jobs in functional areas such as administration, HR management, logistics and business development. Only 9 per cent are working in core engineering jobs. This means that women engineers, irrespective of the branch of engineering they pursue, are switching to jobs in IT/Software or other functional areas not related to engineering. In other words, most of them are not applying for jobs in core engineering.

To find an answer to the third question, I analysed 188 resumes of women engineers with over ten years of work experience. The findings are:

Job roles after 10-15 years: 56.71 per cent of them are in an IT role. 20.14 per cent of them are in engineering jobs. 19.4 per cent are in jobs that are not related to engineering. The percentage of women in core engineering jobs has come down from 20 (10-15 years work experience group) to 9 (0-5 years work experience group).

Why do women prefer IT jobs? The first reason is that IT jobs provide two flexibility options — one is they allow employees to work from home and the second is they allow women to rejoin after a career break. This is not the case with core engineering jobs. The second reason is that the IT industry has better HR policies including adequate maternity leave and the option to take a sabbatical. Again, this is not possible in core engineering jobs.

There are a few core engineering jobs that women engineers can take up, if they are interested. Let us explore them.

Electronics and Electrical: In this domain, core jobs are in design and development and in production. In India, only a few public sector companies have undertaken design and development which is why job opportunities are also very few in this domain. Most of the jobs in production are in assembly, where women find the work environment-friendly.

Mechanical: In this domain, jobs are in design, manufacturing, production, materials, maintenance and projects. In terms of numbers, manufacturing and maintenance jobs rank at the top. But women shun these jobs because the engagement with workmen is very high, the job involves physical activity or they have work in night shifts. Women engineers are found in jobs dealing with design, materials and production planning. However, such job roles are very few.

Civil: Here, jobs are in design and development, project planning and execution. Execution involves site visits, long commute to project sites, and interaction with workmen, which many women are not comfortable with. So, women civil engineers usually take up jobs that do not involve site visits, that is, in areas of design and development and project planning. These numbers are again very small.

So in conclusion, we can say that women are inclined to take up jobs in the IT industry owing to women-friendly environment. There is nothing that can stop them from pursuing a career in other engineering disciplines. However, to ensure a long-term career, women must still consider a few parameters before choosing the engineering branch. They include:

  • Which branch comes with more prospects of landing you a job soon after the completion of your engineering programme?
  • Which field readily welcomes women employees returning to work after a career break?
  • Does the field allow seamless migration to a different functional role after a career break, if necessary?

The writer is chairman, TMI Group. –  Courtesy


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