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Supporting Women’s Career Advancement

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis

This book documents the progress that managerial and professional women have made in advancing their careers, and the challenges and opportunities that remain. In the context of increasing numbers of women entering the workplace and indeed pursuing professional and managerial careers, it examines why so few women occupy the top positions in corporations.
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Chapter 11: Best practices for supporting women engineersÂê career development in US corporations

Mary C. Mattis


11. Best practices for supporting women engineers’ career development in US corporations Mary C. Mattis BACKGROUND Since the 1990s, recruitment of women to professional and managerial positions in US corporations and firms has largely been a non-issue. By the mid-1980s the representation of women in the workforce nationwide was approaching parity, and in some industries and companies, exceeded it. Although many women, especially women of color, were clustered in the lowest-paying industries and in low-level administrative and management positions, they were increasingly tailoring their college coursework to the requirements of business careers, continuing a trend begun in the 1970s (Catalyst, 2000). Today, women constitute 51 percent of professionals employed in private industry in the United States (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2001). With the steady increase in women entering and remaining in the workforce over the past three decades, US companies and firms have shifted the focus of their gender diversity initiatives from recruitment of women to fill managerial and professional positions to retention and advancement of women within their professional and managerial ranks – not so engineering companies and firms. Proportionately fewer women (and underrepresented minorities) are found in the engineering profession than in the US workforce in general and in all other scientific and technical fields. In the past three decades, women’s preparation for and participation in engineering has failed to keep pace with women’s representation in fields such as medicine, law and accounting. The history of women in engineering is starkly different from that of women in...

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