Women in engineering is always a popular topic in social media . There was a recent hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer where women from different industries of engineering posted selfies of themselves to raise awareness about the diversity in engineering .
A recent example of a PR stunt gone wrong is the photo BIC posted on #Womensday . The comment ” thinking like a men ” was very sexist and derogatory . This shows us that even the big companies make mistakes .
Soon after we started looking closely at how engineering is perceived in Libya. We found that on ” the Libyan families in UK ” page they had posted a photo congratulating one half of a couple who got a PhD. They had erased the wife’s face and hands out of the photo.
Another incident was with the first photo Tatweer Research tweeted. They had posted an image of only the male students of #YoungCleverlibyans while leaving out the women. We quickly raised the issue and a full photo showing all 23 of them was tweeted.
How you present engineers and scientists to the public is very important. You have to keep showing girls still studying that they can be a scientist/ engineer when they grows up too. It’s not just a men’s profession. You also can’t just show a symbolic representation of women engineers in a photo . It has to be a real representation and not just a publicity stunt.
We recently noticed certain Libyan engineering pages not addressing females in their social media communications strategy. We decided to see what our audience thought about this kind of behaviour and how common it was in real life for them to be ignored.
Some of the comments :
- Women engineers in Libya not having the right type of attitude. Society has allowed them to not give their full effort in the jobs they hold .
- They’re not given real tasks in some organisations and are treated like the office housewife.
- Most students in some parts of Libya said they were unable to even complete their studies because of conflict in their cities
- Internship opportunities were very low, and they do not recruit women engineers in high numbers
- Not having any options with regards to job prospects. A woman could only choose between teaching and sitting at home.
- A lot of comments were from graduates who graduated recently and still couldn’t find a job because of the conflict, along with the fact that they as women weren’t seen as a priority to hire in some industries like the oil industry.
- From the other side of the argument, an engineer commented that women wouldn’t be able to carry out certain types of jobs. She wouldn’t be able to go to the field in the desert and this is why she doesn’t get hired for those jobs . It’s just about who is a better fit physically.
- The recent expulsion of foreign companies who were equal opportunity employers also led to a lot of engineers to become unemployed. Foreign companies had a much fairer hiring structure than national ones and put qualifications ahead of gender.
- A civil engineer’s advice to women was to ignore the discrimination and work hard proving yourself. Hiding behind discrimination excuses wouldn’t do any good .
Because of the large number of comments we were prompted to take this conversation somewhere else. This is why we opened our Women’s network group. It’s a place where you can get to know other women in Libya who are trying to reach their goals . A place to get advice on a certain career path or seek knowledge on certain topics . It can also be a place to rant about not being able to graduate because your university has closed .
The personal stories we received from the group were moving. Some were positive, while others showed great strength of these women and the will power they have. Just knowing somewhere out there someone has the same issue as you , knowing you’re not alone in itself is a comfort . They shared stories about what they were doing to stay active and up to date with their careers and studies during the conflict
As for on the ground , an intern on a 2 week training provided by a major government communications company had asked them what their strategy was with regards to recruiting more women . They replied with ” we raise awareness, women have a limited role here that’s why they don’t want to work here” . They cut her off soon after and changed the subject . It’s widely known that if you get hired as a woman engineer in these communications companies you are a glorified secretary with an engineer title . When asked about the rumor that they didn’t hire women , the representative didn’t deny it .
The lack of women trainers was also addressed . The reply was that women just don’t apply . The intern advised them that they had to be more proactive in recruiting women and give them all the tools they need in order to have a more diverse workforce . Providing leadership training for them is one of the steps they can do to make female engineers more confident in the industry . The company replied positively and said they’d take this into consideration next year. The reality is if women want to be in the communications industry at the moment they need to start their own business.
One solution could be implementing a quota to get more women into the industry . They can then be trained to take on leadership positions within the organisations . These companies aren’t just businesses . They have a responsibility towards society . They have to help make it a better place for all citizens .
Join us and have a say in the conversation or share your experience …….
Group link – https://t.co/AwKPznEl5C
Update : The intern continued discussing the lack of women trainees with the research department and they’ve promised a 25% quota for women in the next summer technical training program.
Written by the PS team .