Why we need more women in engineering
The proportion of women in engineering has remained static since 2008: only seven per cent of engineers are female.
The lack of women in engineering is a very significant problem, contributing to skills shortages which damage the economy.The shocking reality is that the UK is only utilising half the potential workforce in this vital sector.
It also means that women are missing out on interesting and rewarding career opportunities.
That is why the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) invests a great deal of time and resource into attracting more women into engineering. We have come a long way in the last 20 years and seen some good progress, but there remains a lot more work to be done.
The IET’s activities in this area include a number of awards and scholarships including the annual Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards. These recognise the achievements of female talent in engineering and aim to encourage and inspire others to enter the profession. The Award winners become great ambassadors for women in engineering by promoting the profession widely throughout industry and educational organisations.
This isn’t the end of the story though. The IET works in hundreds of schools every year, reaching thousands of girls, and young people generally, to promote STEM careers and subjects.
But industry must be proactive too, especially in marketing their jobs to women. There are some good examples of companies who show creative ways of reaching out to women with their job adverts and flexible working patterns, and the results have been very positive. There are excellent young women who need to be convinced by industry that they can have a rewarding career in engineering.
The IET annual Skills Survey shows engineering employers often struggle to recruit high quality engineers, so reaching out to the massively under-represented female workforce is a simple way to start addressing thischallenge.
The challenge may be great, but with an emphasis on raising awareness, recognising talent and promoting key ambassadors in these fields, it will be possible to dispel this stigma and provide inspiration to females for years to come.
As well as playing our role, we will continue to encourage others to play theirs, in particular by insisting that the gender imbalance in engineering remains high on the government’s agenda.
By Linda Deleay
Awards & Prizes Manager, Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)