We Love Engineering; But Let’s Talk About that Pay Gap.

By: Leela Hudnall, Reporter, Manager

 Most everyone at the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering loves engineering. Shocking; I know. However, as much as we love this field, no one is perfect, and neither is engineering. In honor of National Equal Pay Day and National Women’s History Month, let’s discuss the pay gap.

First, a few statistics: on average, male civil engineers are paid $1,551 per week; female civil engineers are paid 82.7% of what males make, coming out to roughly $1,282 less per week. For curiosity’s sake, I did the math. That comes out to about a $14,000 pay difference per year.

If you are a female (or a minority of practically any kind), I’m sure you understand the frustration, but if not, let me state it clearly: being paid less because of your XX chromosomes sucks. Forgive me for not being more graceful with my words, but I can’t imagine it is easy for all those female civil engineers to handle that knowledge gracefully. I’m sure Engineering Technicians relate, as their gender pay gap is even bigger, coming up to making about 80.9% of what males make – an $11,471 difference per year. And yet again, let’s not forget our female Industrial Engineers who make $21,274 less each year.

With this knowledge in mind, you can understand that this is in no way a complaint, but aimed at raising awareness. These women are being treated unfairly by a system that should be supporting everyone, but in reality, was very much built for someone other than them.

Despite the fact that years of experience can slowly close the pay gap, the salaries are still not equal. In 2021, starting someone off with a disadvantage due to their gender is not acceptable – political views aside.

Studies show that women leave the engineering field much more often than men. Initially this may be seen as some “cause” for why they make less than men. I’ve actually heard this used as an excuse before, so I decided to address it here and urge you to think deeper. Why are women leaving the field so much earlier and so much more often than men? I propose that it is a deeper social issue.

It’s not just engineers; it’s not just ​this​ system. These women leave the field of their own volition, and we take that statistic at a face value. Behind the scenes, the reality is that women face societal pressures and expectations, that men do not.

 For example: Engineering is a tasking (yet rewarding) field, and requires time and dedication. When men come home just in time for dinner, it’s more often perceived as them working hard to provide for the family, but when women make it home a few minutes late, it can be perceived as abandoning the family or neglecting their duties.

Of course, it’s not every engineer, not every family, but I’m sure we can agree that it’s a problem most people are aware and have seen it happen. I think I speak for all the future engineers here at ASCTE, we are working to raise awareness and continue progress related to the workforce (engineering especially) started by the previous generation.

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