General feedback we receive from reader surveys generally doesn’t surprise me. And this year’s Annual Salary Survey, is no exception. But what did surprise me were some of the individual comments offered by participants.
An independent, third-party research organization conducts our salary survey. My colleagues and I (mostly my colleagues) develop questions, and they are sent to the research firm to execute the study. They then collect and tabulate all the feedback into an Excel spreadsheet.
Our own graphics team then reviews figures in the spreadsheet to create graphical representations of the results. These images let you quickly summarize results, and this is the part that doesn’t surprise me much. The surveys show that most of our readers have lots of experience. I think this is because most of readers don’t begin their careers working in the field of hydraulics or pneumatics technology. Instead, they seem to gravitate toward the field—more often by fate than by choice.
This is a trend most readers—and most of us in the industry—would like to see change. Readers overwhelming find fluid power technology to be an interesting, challenging, and rewarding career. Often, though, it seems as if those already in the industry are the only ones aware of the many benefits a career in fluid power has to offer. We need more than fate to draw engineering and technology students and mechanics into the fluid power industry. Fortunately, organizations such as National Fluid Power Association have programs in place that demonstrate to kids what fluid power is and what it can do. Other organizations help spread the word to engineering students at the college and graduate-school level.
To expand on this subject, one question asked what can be done to increase interest in engineering among women and minorities. “This question should be removed from the survey,” one respondent offered. “It is offensive and borderline racist/sexist. As long as the STEM courses are equally offered to every member of this society regardless of their gender and race, there should be no further question on how to increase their interest. Instead, the question should be, ‘In your opinion, what can be done to increase the interest in engineering?’” Sounds like we struck a nerve.
Another participant offered a similar response: “This is a dumb question. Girls interested in engineering will go into engineering. If they are not serious about their interest—and are only entering a specific profession due to societal norms or social pressure—they should reconsider their decisions. As far as minorities are concerned, that is an equally absurd question.”
One participant, though, sounded as if he or she had experience in with this subject. “I have been involved with several grants to attract minority STEM students, visited churches, attended minority graduation celebrations, gave STEM scholarships, and we have always been unsuccessful.”
So, I think having our salary survey go beyond salaries spawned some healthy debate. This might make it a tough act to follow next year, and we’re still not finished. We’ll post additional results from the survey on our website within the coming weeks.