2022: Rebalancing the Historical Female Underrepresentation in Education

Women are increasingly present in the field of engineering, but despite a significant female presence, it has been found that the programs continue to make no reference to women scientists. In chemical engineering, for example, all the names of scientists mentioned in the programs belong to men only. To test this hypothesis of over-representation of men in the programs, a series of random opinion surveys were launched among 600 students from 5 universities to find out whether they had noticed this over-representation and what they thought about it. The results showed that the vast majority did not realize that the scientists presented as examples in classes were all men. In fact, 90% of the student panel were unable to identify a woman in the chemical engineering field, and the remaining 10% could cite only one or two─who were among the most recent and had received the most attention from the media. The issue of inequalities between girls and boys and between women and men in education remains central to understanding and combating gender inequalities and enabling people to develop as persons free from the limitations imposed on them by gender stereotypes. However, these inequalities cannot only be explained exclusively by the issue of access to education but must also take the type and content of education into account. This article is a call for reflection on the content of university curricula and has a twofold objective: on one hand, to raise awareness of this imbalance in representation among students, both male and female, and, on the other hand, to launch reflection on this “invisibility of women” and to propose some avenues for debate.