Some discussion on Twitter about gender balance in engineering requires a bit more space than 140chars to respond.
I taught engineering for 23 years. I was a student in Leeds 65-71 (BSc PhD There were no girls (we called them girls in those days and they did too) in my year of 104. One the year ahead (Sue B??, one the year behind (Sue Vale), so roughly 0.5%. I understand that Sue Vale declared she had come to find a man but stayed to be an engineer and was pretty good at it.
Adam Neville arrived as Prof in 1967 and set about improving the balance. He got to 10% and then 20% in 3 or 4 years but I think that was by gathering all the girls in civil into a cohort. There was a ladies toilet in the building for secretaries. As the numbers went up, a gents was converted to a ladies by the simple expedient of changing the label. Very welcoming.
As admissions officer for many years, it was my view that 10% was a sort of critical mass. Below that candidates could come for interview and see no evidence of women. More than 10% and they became visible.
But that isn't the issue I was raising. With a few notable exceptions ALL the women entering Civil Engineering do so because they want to be engineers. Even ten, the gender imbalance means they self select out if they aren't confident they are going to be good.
Men on the other hand (mostly boys really) contain a mix. Many who have no particular desire to be engineers but they can sort of do physics and maths and.... Some who really want to be engineers despite being eak in those core subjects (and that is allowed, many become really sound engineers and some, stars). And of course, those who are real stars.
But the culture is still such that many, even young, men deeply fear being shown up in front of women. I have also come across men who have said "Why do we need to encourage women? There are plenty of jobs for them and this is a secure place for men."
Anyway, the insecure ones are actually equally unwilling to expose their weakness to men or women but it shows more with women.
I had one boss (professor) who said, with his wife standing beside him, "Intelligent women terrify me." It took me a long time to realise I was quite unusual in wanting to test my mind against other sharp ones (men or women). My wife is a Germanist (perhaps was is a better word) until MS started to eat her brain as well as her physical ability. She was much sharper witted than me for the first 20 years of our lives together. She chose to stay home, raise children, goats pigs and vegetables (and if you doubt that can be a real choice try reading The Shepherd's Life). As the children became independent she returned to academe, did an MPhil and started on a PhD with the same supervisor, only to find that her mind couldn't cut it any more.