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It's the Environment

Nearly 40 percent of women with engineering degrees either leave or never enter the field, and a survey of some 5,300 women points to the work environment as the main culprit, NPR reports.

The survey, conducted by University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's Nadya Fouad and Romila Singh and presented at the annual annual American Psychological Association meeting, found that many women find the engineering work environment unfriendly, with few opportunities for advancement.

Among the women who entered and then left the field, 30 percent said they did so because of the climate in the office — such as having supervisors or coworkers that were not supportive or "general incivility," the Huffington Post adds. And other left because of few opportunities for advancement, frequent travel, or low salary.

"There isn't a strong network of females in engineering. You either need to learn to be 'one of the guys' or blaze the trail yourself, which is very difficult," said one respondent, who left engineering to become an executive officer in the construction field, according to the Huffington Post.

And it's not a matter of 'leaning in,' Fouad and Singh say — they found no difference in confidence levels between women who stayed in the field and those that left.

"Women's departure from engineering is not just an issue of 'leaning in,' " Fouad tells NPR. "It's about changing the work environment."

The researchers also note that women in different engineering disciplines, be they in aerospace, biotech, or computer science, faced the same issues.