June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Women in Engineering
“Build it and they will come!” Reversing the gender gap: women enrolling in engineering programs and preparing for careers in the oil and gas industry in the UAE
The low percentages of women studying engineering around the world especially in northern America is a well-known issue in higher education. Despite many efforts from academic institutions and industry, the number of women enrolled in undergraduate engineering programs in the United States has stagnated around 17-19 percent since 2003. However, in the Middle-Eastern GCC countries in general and in the United Arab Emirates UAE in particular, a different picture emerges. There has been significant progress in women enrolling in STEM programs, especially engineering, in the GCC over the past few years. In the case of the UAE, the vision of the government leadership, as evident in the constitution and in government initiatives provides some insight into some of the support leading to this phenomena. The Petroleum Institute PI in Abu Dhabi admitted its first cohort, of male students, 2001. Five years later, the institute opened its doors to female students. Initially, the numbers of enrolled female students were low as no on campus housing was available for them. In 2014 female dormitories became available and the number of female students surged. Over 63% of the 2020 class are female. This surge in interest by young Emirati women in engineering is of particular interest as all PI graduates begin their careers with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company ADNOC group, in the Oil and gas industry, an industry with one of the lowest percentages of female employees. This paper examines the PI female students’ performance. It also explores their motivation, expectations, career choice as well as the kind of support they receive. The findings shed some light on the reasons why they chose to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry, where they would be interested to work, and who encourages them. The discussion also examines if they feel that the oil and gas industry offers the same opportunities for female employees as for male employees and that women can reach top management positions within the oil and gas industry. It seems there are several factors contributing to the current increase in the percentage of women in engineering. It is probably a combination of factors such as the vision of the government and the motivation of the young women to serve their community and make their families proud.
Ainane, S., & Bouabid, A. (2017, June), “Build it and they will come!” Reversing the gender gap: women enrolling in engineering programs and preparing for careers in the oil and gas industry in the UAE Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27430
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