Science vs engineering

This evening I went to an event at the London Science Museum. Once a month they open the museum in the evening and put on special guests, talks, activities and alcoholic drinks.

It was a great evening with some interesting talks and some fun activities. What really struck me was the gender balance. I would (non-scientifically) estimate that just over 50% of the visitors were female. For me this seems really unusual as I’m used to men easily outnumbering women in all the engineering I’ve ever been to.

At university, about 25% of the engineers were female, at work less than 10% of the engineers are female. In fact government statistics say that only 6.9% of all professional engineers are female.

So is science really that different? Well yes in terms of the statistics. 40% of science professionals and researchers are female and the Science Museum say that 48% of their visitors are female.

I’d like to find out what is causing this huge difference, there is such a big overlap between modern science and engineering. Clearly, from the turnout at the Science Museum this evening, women really enjoy learning about science. I wonder what would happen if it were renamed the “Engineering Museum”.