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Happy International Women's Day!

Hi, I'm Michelle and I'm one of the Design Engineers at Bayly Group. For International Women's Day I sat down to think about my being an engineer in product development and, women in engineering.

The number of women in Engineering

Women are often under-represented in fields of engineering, both in academics and as a profession. I have to say that in all of my years of study, not one of my engineering lecturers was a woman. Although I never felt out of place in a lecture theatre of 200 men and 2 other women, there was no denying that it is a male dominated field.

Studying Product Design Engineering, the gender mix was a lot more even. The number of women graduating from product design and industrial design has increased in the last ten years. Women graduating engineering has increased also, and although times are changing, Engineering Australia research shows that women still only make up around 10% of the engineering labour force.

I am proud of Bayly Group's track record in recruiting women, and women currently represent 50% of our office population. There is an understanding at Bayly that having a balanced gender mix is beneficial to our work as Product Designers.

What women bring to the team:

  • 1. Empathy: Women tend show more empathy and, I like to think, are more diplomatic whereas men are more systematic. This is particularly useful in a collaborative workplace when you've got lots of ideas being thrown around. The mix of personalities and perspectives are particularly useful in brainstorming.
  • 2. Product Design Diversity: Although the majority of our products are designed for both men and women, sometimes products come along that are specifically designed for women. It is invaluable to have women on the team to offer opinions and product design advice. Women can also be particularly in tune with products designed for children. 
  • 3. Attention to Detail: There have been a few occasions that I have found items in the office that the male office members were looking for and just couldn't find. (I also leave pens all over the place. No one is perfect.) But overall women tend to have greater attention to detail. That can be as simple as finding a misplaced ruler but it can also mean spotting a potential flaw in a product or a missing element in a drawing.

Being a woman is different

Working in the engineering industry as a woman is different from being a man in the engineering industry. It's not better or worse, it's just different.

I've heard stories of old fashioned stereotypes still pervading in the engineering industry. Women working as engineers on construction sites and oil fields talk about holding meetings in site offices with bikini calendars on the wall (potential sexual harassment issues) and being expected to pour tea for everyone (subservient role expectations). I've never experienced that extreme, but quite often I'm mistaken for the secretary or office assistant. Not that I feel offended, but more so, people are usually surprised to find out that I'm the engineer. The male members of the office are not so often assumed to be the secretary. Luckily it's a gender stereotype that is dying out.

Women are great at Engineering and Product Design!

Women are often drawn to jobs where they can work towards improving society and individuals lives. They are the nurturers. Fixing problems and designing products to fix problems is another form of this care-taking.

I encourage all women to explore a career in engineering if they are keen for a career where they can make things better, be creative and use their love for problem solving.

Do you have a product development project specifically designed for women and want to work with a female engineer and designer? Contact us...

Check out the Juju Cup. A menstrual cup designed by Bayly and Freedom Products to be a replacement for tampons and pads. Check out how we helped design the JuJu Cup


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