Gender Diversity

It is a white male profession. Absolutely. Not only is it a white male profession, it’s a white male conservative profession, so you’re getting — and very rural, too, I’d say; you’re getting a lot of kids from farming communities that come into engineering as well. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s just it’s a very … it’s a white male farm boy community in engineering. Absolutely. (Female PEng).

The most obvious way in which engineering is gendered, unsurprisingly, is the numerical dominance of males within the profession. As of October 29, 2008 there were 42,894 engineers (both holders of the professional status and engineers in training) who were members of APEGGA. This was made up of 38,082 males and 4,811 females (11.2 percent) (email communication with APEGGA research assistant dated October 29, 2008).

The male dominance of the profession was also reflected in the images found in the published materials that made up part of this study's materials.

The University of Calgary materials, perhaps because the Engineering Faculty has a female dean (Dr. Elizabeth Cannon), had the highest proportion of females. In the issues examined, 38 percent of people imaged were females. In the CEA Alberta Innovators magazine (2007), 25 percent of people imaged were females. On average 32.8 percent of images in issues of The PEGG were of females (from a low of 15 percent in October 2007 to a high of 46.8 percent in July 2007). The publication with the fewest images of females was the U of A Engineer (University of Alberta Engineering Alumni magazine), with an average of only 7 percent females, and with one issue having zero representations of women.

Based on this count, these publications (with the exception of the U of A Engineer) are presenting a profession that is more equitable in terms of gender than the current reality. A straight numerical comparison, however, does not take into account the role in which the individual was shown. In two of The PEGG issues, for example, there were large group shots of women who are members of the engineers’ wives clubs. Women were also frequently imaged in relation to stories on human resources and programs that encourage women to enter engineering. The men, in contrast, were never imaged as husbands. Additionally, when profiles of successful engineers were presented they were overwhelmingly male.