IWD: It's not about jobs for “him” or “her” any more
In Women’s History Month, at Techint Engineering & Construction, we’re diving deep into the issue of stereotyping in the engineering and construction industry.
It’s very much a fact that women and girls studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are still finding themselves in unfair and unequal working conditions. Furthermore, as is well known, this is particularly the case in critical fields such as engineering and the construction industry, where the percentage of women graduates working in this sector barely grazes the 30% mark.
According to research from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the biggest challenge is how to reduce the gender gap in STEM studies at school and university level. The organization’s reports highlight that:
- In Argentina, only 30% of people graduating from STEM degree courses are women
- In Mexico, the number is the same, with women making up only 30% of STEM graduates
- In Chile, the number is 25.6%
- In Colombia, less than 24% of STEM students are women
- In Ecuador only 16%
Gender stereotyping erodes women’s access to certain careers and leadership positions in the world of work. As well as having to work in male-dominated environments, such prejudices can undermine women’s confidence and interest in scientific and technological jobs, meaning that few women end up choosing to study in this field.
Globally, in engineering careers, only 28% of graduates are women. One of the reasons for this is that in the field of research, where they only represent 33%, women tend to earn less than their male colleagues.
As regards women students deciding what to study at university, 3% choose degree courses related to technology, information, and communications while 5% opt for natural sciences, mathematics and statistics, and 8% for engineering, manufacturing and construction.
Crushing the gender gap
Laura Isela García Urizar waved goodbye to her nursing career twelve years ago when she decided to specialize as an argon gas welder. Currently, she’s working at Techint E&C’s precast workshop at the Dos Bocas Refinery as a welder.
“It wasn’t easy for me to work in this environment where most people are men, but when you’re intent on bettering yourself, that’s what you do. You do the rounds, you go to all the places where you hear they’re hiring, but they don’t always give you the chance to take the entry test, which is actually your opportunity to show them what you can do and thus join the team.”
“When I joined Techint, there were few of us women but the bosses made it clear that if anyone disrespected us we had to let them know so that action could be taken. That gave me a lot of confidence. I feel relaxed now, I have the respect of my colleagues, my bosses, they treat us all equally.”
Laura swapped out gauze and syringes for torches and a gas tank. With her work, she is showing that women can occupy roles traditionally taken by men, crushing the gender gap.