We all live in homes, drive on roads, use running water and use airports among other things. What do all of these things have in common? They were all designed and their construction overseen by a civil engineer. Accord to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a civil engineer “designs, builds, supervises, operates, and maintains construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment”. We all know the importance of a civil engineer, but are they being fairly compensated? You may say of course they are being fairly compensated because engineers are some of the top earners. However, engineers put in countless hours designing these infrastructures. This time usually spills over into their personal lives if the project cannot be completed in their time at work.
My research topic asks the following two-part question: Do civil engineers believe that they are being fairly compensated and why is there such a wage gap between female and male engineers. This is significant because civil engineers are one of the most important professions when it comes to our standards of living. So why are they not in the same bracket as other important professions such as doctors and physicians? Also, if the question of whether civil engineers are being fairly paid comes about, and there is also a wage gap between male and female engineers, then female engineers may be severely underpaid. The following showcases my hypothesis:
Ho: The owners of engineering firms believe that engineers are adequately compensated whereas the engineers believe that they are not adequately compensated for their services. Also
Ha: The owners of engineering firms do not believe that engineers are adequately compensated whereas the engineers believe that they are adequately compensated for their services.
It is said that an elephant is worth the same whether living or dead and so are engineers. Imagine a world without civil engineers; we would be living in natural caves and in forests just like the Early Man did. There would be no roads, no transport, no business and definitely no kind of entertainment that we see today would be existing were it not for engineers.
The monumental structures, generation of power and also the majestic highways we see and use today provides testimony to the importance and hard work of engineers. In spites of all these, civil engineers are usually a deprived lot. They receive lay off periods that stretch from months to years haunting them project after project.
The one who are fortunate enough to have a job are not well compensated for. They do not get paid for any extra time they work. The situation is even worse for female engineers who are subjected to harsher working conditions than their male counterparts as engineering is seen to be a male field by the society.
First, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics does a great job of providing clear and concise information about the roles of civil engineers, when they say they, “design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment. Many civil engineers work in design, construction, research, and education” (Rozgus215). This information gives the reader background information as to why engineers are so important.
This research is very important as it will not only help in addressing the issues and the challenges that engineers face everyday but will also help improve their working conditions by creating the much needed awareness of sensitizing people on the plight of civil engineers.
Engineers’ needs and also deserve to be treated with respect by their employers as they have played a very important part in our civilization and still the future of our world heavily depend on them.
I undertook my exploration of research by the use of interviews. Having worked at an engineering firm over the summer, I interviewed 2 of my former colleagues over the phone via Whatsapp.
The first person I interviewed was the owner of the firm and asked him a series of structured questions. I did this same thing with one of my associates Quincy Pryceon Thursday March 23rd. I had set up the interview three weeks prior. I called Mr. Rollin’s first at 12pm and Mr. Pryce at 12:30pm. Each interview lasted 20 minutes. I conducted the interview on speakerphone and wrote down notes as I went along after that, the team left and I interviewed him with my preset questions. I was able to transcribe some of the interview at the time; jotting down what I felt was most pertinent in his answers and asking him to repeat what he said when necessary. I also made notes on his body language and gestures when answering my questions. Overall, my primary research took approximately one hour to finish, but took at least a month of preparation to accomplish.
When I combined the data that I had through various methods that I had employed, one thing was clear, that the engineers were not compensated fairly for the services that they had offered. The results of my research were as follows:
- Most engineers are not compensated for overtime work that they did unless they had their own private firms where they could bill the consumers accordingly. This is because most of engineering firms that are state owned do not even consider paying overtime. Private engineering firms were more considerate when it came to paying for overtime.
- Supply and demand for engineers greatly affects their general pay. When the demand of engineers is very high but their supply or availability is low, their wages generally go up in attempt of bridging the gap between supply and demand. When their demand is low and they become more readily available, this situation results in their wages going down as there is over supply of engineers in the market (Richard 76).
There was also wage difference between male and female engineers in the field. Male engineers generally earn more than their female counterparts despite the fact that they do the same amount of work. This is among the negative result that I came across when doing this research. There is clear difference of treatment between male and female engineers and it’s based on purely on their gender and not their level of productivity (American Water Works Association 56).
Different levels of experience and seniority affects the salaries of the engineers. I found that the salary changes as an engineering fir m continues to grow and those engineers who are senior and have a lot of experience are added them wages so as to reflect on the current growth of the firm.
Majority of engineers are underpaid as salaries differ or vary from one state to another or from one geographical area to another. I found that different regions, states and governments usually have different terms of salary remuneration which means generally that in some areas the salaries will be higher than other regions. I also found out that the demand of engineers generally far outweighs their supply hence their salary is usually much higher than that of national average. It is approximately 71% higher than the rest of wages (Bonawanalt 201).
According to what I have found through my research, the question; are the engineers being fairly compensated for their services are now answerable. I can confidently say that the engineers are not compensated fairly for the job that they do. They should always be paid properly even overtime hours worked as other professionals are.
- Results that I have from the research I did are mixed in that; I found some of the results to be fair and others unfair to the engineers. For example I don’t think it’s fair to decide how much you will pay an engineer simply based on their sex and not their work output. In my humble opinion this usually happens because the society has already forced as to believe that men are more productive than women in many professional fields. But this is far from the truth as there are women who are more productive than men or like men.
- It is interesting to note that even though the engineers are not paid as they generally should, they are still paid well above most of professional in other fields. In future I see this scenario changing and the salaries becoming more leveled as there will be an increase of engineers in the market hence their demand will drop resulting to the reduction of their wages due to over supply.
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