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September 23, 1987 - Image 59

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ESR MS S
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Wanted: Many Good Women

At 26, Purdue graduate Mica Endsley
designs airplane cockpits for the
Northrop Corp. in Hawthorne, Calif.
Endsley is a rarity-a female engineer.
For women like her, mathematically and
technically inclined, the demand is ex-
traordinary. Although their ranks have
increased dramatically in the last two dec-
ades, women engineers are still outnum-
bered by men 7 to 1.
Nor do matters appear to be improving
rapidly. According to UCLA's annual sur-
vey of college freshmen, the last three years
have actually shown a 20 percent drop in
the number of women who say they plan to
enter the field of engineering. Thedeclining
interest in engineering among women par-
allels that for men. Kenneth Green, asso-
ciate director of the UCLA Higher Educa-
tion Research Institute, says that student
interest in the technological professions ap-
pears to have peaked, while interest in busi-
ness careers continues to rise.
Historically, of course, women have not
been encouraged to pursue any scientific
bent. Some professionals blame this on bias-
es that occur early in the educational sys-
tem. But barriers on the job-some subtle
and some not so subtle-plainly persist.
Concedes Dick Ellis of the American Associ-
ation of Engineering Societies: "This is an
issue which a lot of people pontificate about,
but about which little is actually done."

New incentives for women to join the
field are high, though, and getting higher.
Bell Communications Research Inc. and
other large companies offer generous
scholarships nationwide. Like Bell Labo-
ratories, Northrop collaborates with the
Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to
sponsor conferences and career-counseling
seminars. Entry-level salaries add motiva-
tion: engineers with a B.S. degree can fre-
quently earn $28,000 and more a year. The
job market is tight in some areas, such as
petroleum, electrical and mechanical en-
gineering. But many corporate recruiters
have increased their efforts to attract
more women. "In fact, you could pick any
Fortune 500 company," says B. J. Harrod,
acting executive director of the SWE,
"and find a genuine effort to improve the
[male-to-female] ratio."
Some of these combined efforts appear
to be paying off. Northrop's Endsley was a
whiz at math and science before college.
Urged by her high-school counselor, she
attended a weekend conference sponsored
by the SWE and was soon intrigued.
"When I was in high school, I didn't
have a clear idea of what engineers do,"
says Endsley. Today she specializes in
avionics and finds her job exciting. "You
are not just sitting at a desk, passing
paper along."
HUGH BROOKS in Los Angeles

So rare: Endsley charts a subject's eye movements to help in her cockpit designs

SEPTEMBER 1987

NEWSWEEKONCAMPUS 43

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