Women: Too Empathetic to Be Engineers? (The Huffington Post)

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The Huffington PostIn a Huffington Post opinion piece, Associate Professor of Engineering Vicki May notes that leading design innovator David Kelley, addressing Thayer School of Engineering’s graduates this year, had this advice: “Empathize.”

Noting that men are typically good at systemizing, and women at empathizing, May writes, “Engineering is mainly about analyzing (or systemizing) isn’t it? So it is not surprising that men are more drawn to engineering since they tend to be more systemizing. Sure, there are some female engineers but these are probably the outliers who are more systemizing than empathizing, not the norm.”

Still, she writes, Kelley’s advice was valuable. “I think David Kelley’s advice to engineers to “empathize” was spot on (his speech was excellent, by the way). We need engineers to do more empathizing and engineering schools and companies alike to value empathy. Companies like IDEO do value empathy and a few schools including Stanford and Dartmouth include courses focused on human-centered design but we need more schools and companies to follow their lead.”

May is a Dartmouth Public Voices fellow.

Read the full opinion piece, published 6/24/14 by The Huffington Post.