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Engineering And Motherhood: An Unspoken Combination

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.186.1 - 1.186.3



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Paper Authors

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Michele M. Putko

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

1 Session 3592 .— - . . ..-.

..— Engineering and Motherhood: An Unspoken Combination

Michele M. Putko United States Military Academy

Abstract instincts and a great dedication to my husband and The representation of females in the children. engineering world has grown considerably in recent decades. The message heard nation wide is For many people, the combination of titles, that femles are fully capable of studying, “mom and engineer” is too unsettling to discuss in practicing, and teaching engineering. Yet an issue a public setting. In order to understand the that is rarely addressed in a public forum is that of perceptions associated with my position as a combining a career in engineering with mother and female engineering educator, I find it motherhood. It is a subject female engineers interesting to note the very recent history of hesitate to discuss in their quest to be accepted in females in engineering related careers. the male-dominated profession of engineering. The distinct roles of a mother and an engineer are Women in Engineering: A History viewed by many to be incongruous. As a mother, The male exclusivity of engineering first and an engineering educator, I wish to share my began to wear off with the invention of the steam experiences and thoughts related to my dual role. engine and the discovery of electricity’. As the This paper will discuss personal experiences and world began to rely more on machinery and less on issues related to choosing both engineering and brawn, all that was required to be an engineer was motherhood. an aptitude for mathematics, a scientific curiosity, and a desire to create useful things. Yet most “Equality” ? females did not know what an engineer did. In the Although many opinions and stereotypes minds of most women, engineering was a still exist in our society, I dare to say that I, as an “masculine” profession. engineering educator, have equal status and salary compared to any male who has worked in my World War II served as an impetus to get position. I pay homage to the trailblazers, who females involved in engineering. The war bonded together decades ago and developed a provided females with the opportunity to work in powerful women’s movement that made it possible many non-traditional jobs. “Rosie the Riviter” is for me to claim “equality.” As a woman with a still a national symbol of the female contribution to career, I am free from the “oppression” of a life the war effort. During the war, females were not dedicated to, and solely revolving around, a only making a great contribution on the assembly husband and children. Yet, I cannot help but lines but were also working as engineers. Women notice that I am not “equal” to my co-workers; I were praised by the government for their work am a mother. Although I am free of the pre- supporting the war effort on the home front. women’s movement “oppression” associated with However, once World War II ended everything motherhood, I am not free of strong maternal changed. With the conclusion of the war, “women

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Putko, M. M. (1996, June), Engineering And Motherhood: An Unspoken Combination Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6020

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