More women in engineering. Now.

End the reign of Reference Man.

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Engineering shouldn’t be biased, but it is. We want more women in tech and engineering to create a fairer future for all.

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Reference Man

The insidious impact of "Reference Man"

If you’re a woman, you probably already know that the office temperature where you work is not as comfortable for you as it is for a man. But did you know that the seatbelt you put on when you drive to work, is not as safe for you as it is for a man? Or that stab vests, vital protection for police officers, is safer for men than for women?

The person responsible for all this is an individual called «Reference Man», and he doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s an average used by scientists and engineers for decades. «Reference Man» is a statistical shorthand, a blueprint to use when designing products, implementing safety features, researching preferences and testing innovations.

And by using this blueprint, we have ended up with a world where diseases are more easily detected in men. Chairs are more comfortable, technology more in tune with men’s preferences. And frankly, we think this needs to change.

We need more women in engineering. Now.

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Reference Man (20-30). A 180 centimeter tall Western European or American caucasian male weighing 73 kilos. Lives in a climate with average temperatures between 10 celcius - 20 celcius. Not in existence.

Women engineers at AutoStore

What can be done?

You’re not a better engineer just because you’re a woman. But you’re also not a worse engineer. You’re just an engineer! For some reason, the profession has been associated with men, and there is still a hefty numerical disparity in favour of male engineers. Why?

There’s no reason, except maybe historical bias. To overcome that, more women have to go into engineering, of course, but companies have to hire them and put them in positions where they can make a difference.

At AutoStore, that’s what we do. We champion our female engineers, not because they are any better than their male colleagues (who are also great, by the way!), but to inspire and attract other women. Because some women still feel they’re being undervalued, and that hurts us all. Unbalanced representation leads to unbalanced outcomes, and that’s how you get safety belts that save more men than women.

What are we doing about it?

  • Flexible work hours. Home office up to 2 days every week.
  • Paid hours for exercise
  • Paid time for voluntary work
  • Secure channels for whistleblowing
  • Yearly workplace satisfaction surveys - speak your mind! We’re listening.

Diversity in tech and engineering

Of course, few women in engineering is not the only problem. If you’re wondering about the colour of Reference Man’s skin, it’s white. He’s a caucasian man, which only intensifies the problem. People of colour and from cultures outside the Western European/American sphere are not well represented when scientists and engineers keep using Reference Man as their benchmark. Our push for a fairer future includes everybody.

Join the cause: ENGINEERING careers

Your company can help. Hiring women as engineers obviously helps, but helping young women choose engineering careers – and helping them stick with it – makes a world of difference.

The Ada project

We partner with ADA, an NTNU project helping more women finish their degrees and landing jobs in tech and engineering. By joining their network, you help the cause.

Learn more about the Ada project


We also partner with ODA-Network, the leading, non-profit meeting place for women in tech in the Nordics with more than 7500 members. Their mission is to increase the number of women in tech, women leaders and women business owners. Read more about how they contribute to create a better future for businesses and society.

Read more about ODA
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