Discouraging advice about chemical engineering

I want to become a chemical engineer, and am applying to universities for it. But people mostly around me are discouraging me to pursue chemical engineering. They say its a job sector that's not designed for girls & it doesn't give much opportunity to girls. Plus I have also been told that the sector doesn't pay that well either. What can I do?
posted by Pamala, New York on February 20, 2013

Answer by Tiffany Johnston

Hi Pamela, I’m sorry to hear that people have not been the most supportive in your educational plan. Hopefully, I can help you feel a little better about choosing Chemical Engineering, and maybe even give you some information to convince the naysayers! I graduated in 2006 and of my fellow chemical engineering graduates about 60% of them were female. Actually, ChemE have the highest amount of female students. While some of the traditional chemical engineering jobs seem to be stereotypically male (oil and gas refineries for example) I have multiple female friends that have been working in these environments since our graduation. One of the reasons I specifically chose ChemE was I found its curriculum and therefore job prospects to be the most diverse. I ended up working in the environmental field, most of my coworkers are also ChemE’s and we actually typically prefer to hire ChemE undergrad students over environmental. Additionally, I’d like to point you to two additional resources; the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Both of these organizations will likely have student chapters at your local university and can help provide you support during not only school but also as you start your career. Please visit both of their websites. From a very quick internet search I found an article on the AIChE website about starting salary for Chemical Engineers. The good news is that it is the highest paying undergrad degree you can earn. Yes, the highest!! Here’s a quote from the article: “Good news for the 2010 chemical engineering graduates! According to payscale.com, your new degree was the best choice in terms of having the highest immediate payoff, with a starting median salary of $65,700.” I hope all of this information is helpful, please let me know if you have any other questions!