TV & Movies

Why Emma Watson Wants You to Be an Engineer

The only way to change the perception of engineering as a “man’s job” is to be the change, tweets Watson—and as it turns out, more Canadian women are getting the message

Emma Watson, Ban Ki-Moon attends the launch of the HeForShe Campaign at the United Nations on September 20, 2014 in New York City (Photo:  Steve Sands/WireImage/Getty Images)

Emma Watson, next to Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, at the launch of the HeForShe Campaign.  (Photo: Steve Sands/WireImage/Getty Images)

Encouraging young women to pursue studies in traditionally male fields may seem like a no-brainer, but clearly there’s more work to be done. Recently actress Emma Watson received a tweet from a girl who was troubled by gender assumptions about her desired career.“[M]y dad says I can’t be a engineer ’cause it’s a ‘men profession’ what do I do to change that?” Watson’s reply: “Become an engineer.”

It’s solid advice that many young women appear to be taking. The University of Toronto reports that a record number of female students have enrolled in its engineering program—which the school says has traditionally been dominated by young men. More than 30 percent of first-year engineering students are now women, an increase of nearly 10 percent in just six years.

Academic standards are rising, too. The average grade for successful applicants is now 92.4 percent, another record for the university, which appears to be attracting the majority of young Canadian women who wish to enter the field.

The university credits a consistent, female-focused recruitment effort for the enrollment bump—including events like Go Eng Girl, in which girls from grades 7 to 10 visit the campus and learn more about careers in engineering from female professionals in the field.