Why are there still so few female engineers in 2023?

Posted on January 12, 2023, 8:09 am

In France, 24% of engineers are women, i.e. 242,810 out of approximately one million active engineers. This disparity seems inevitable as only 30% of engineering students are female students. A proportion that has stagnated for nearly ten years.

This is the observation made (again) by the Association of Women Engineers in its annual analysis* published this Thursday, January 12, 2023 and revealed exclusively by Les Echos Start. In an effort to reverse the trend, they are organizing a week later, on Thursday January 19, 2023, the second edition of “Engineer. e ? It’s for me! which will take place on the virtual reality platform of Arts et Métiers.

Objective: to reinforce the feminization of the timidly started profession. Engineers under 30 now represent 29% of female engineers. They are 34% between 30 and 39 years old. Their seniors are less numerous (23% for women between 40 and 49 and 14% for women between 50 and 64).

As a result, the sector remains predominantly male. Women engineers mainly work in the industrial sectors (35%), tertiary activities (35%) and in publishing services and software companies (13%) (see chart below). In the latter area, as well as in agriculture, forestry, water and pollution, they even outnumber men. The problem: these jobs are also less rewarding.

Observatory of Women Engineers, 2023 edition

Significant gaps in wages

Because in this new panorama, the gaps in wages also remain. The average annual gross salary of female engineers is 50,100 euros, while that of men is 58,900 euros, or 18% more.

In general management positions – the most lucrative – the gender pay gap is significant, with an average difference of more than 30% in favor of male engineers. These positions are among the two least represented activities among female engineers, even though they are in the top 4 activities that employ the most engineers in France.

But these differences tend to decrease. In 2019, half of female engineers earned less than €49,700, while this level was €60,120 for men, or 21% more. A gap reduction of 3 percentage points in two years.

Observatory of Women Engineers, 2023 edition

Observatory of Women Engineers, 2023 edition

Late career abandonment

If the average starting salary between men and women is about the same, the gap widens with respect to career. At the age of 50, it is 77,900 euros for women compared to 90,200 euros for all engineers. It is also in this age group that the difference narrows faster anyway, with 10 percentage points gained in 2021, compared to 2019.

Observatory of Women Engineers, 2023 edition

Observatory of Women Engineers, 2023 edition

These pay disparities can also be explained by the lower hierarchical responsibilities given to women: 62% of women are not concerned compared to 52% of men.

Another explanatory factor: fixed-term contracts are also twice as common for women (9%) as for male engineers (4%).

When it comes to job satisfaction, female engineers are also struggling. During their professional trajectory, they have less and less trust in their employer. This percentage of worried women ranges from 11% for those under 30 to 19% for those aged 50-64.

The same observation if one is interested in their enthusiasm, also examined by the study. The more the age increases, the more it decreases. In the words, the difficulties in advancing their careers and (again) this famous glass ceiling they bump into, justify the study.

The celebrations? Yes!

Although this picture is bleak, the careers of female engineers are progressing. While they used to work mainly in the areas of management, administration and direction, they now focus more on studies, research, production, technical advice and logistics (see chart below).

Observatory of Women Engineers, 2023 edition

Observatory of Women Engineers, 2023 edition

Women engineers do not know the crisis. Less than 5% of them are currently unemployed and 72% say they have never experienced a period of unemployment since the start of their career.

Soft changes

in the question ” Are you in line with the values ​​of equality in your company? ? », men respond more positively than women (64% versus 57%). ” The fact that they do not perceive situations of gender inequality does not favor their disappearance, especially since men are more often in positions of power, and therefore are able to reduce these inequalities. “, says the report. We can only hope that today’s issue-conscious youth will join forces with their female counterparts for greater equality tomorrow.

*The following study is based on data collected during the annual survey of the Société d’ Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France (IESF), of which Femmes Ingénieures is a member, published in 2022 and based on data from the full year 2021. The survey is based on more than 52,000 valid responses, including 12,730 responses from female engineers.

Leave a Comment