BSRIA is celebrating National Women in Engineering Day (NWED) on Thursday 23rd June in an attempt to promote the subject to students in schools and universities and encourage more women into engineering. The day is dedicated to raising the profile and celebrating the achievements of female engineers.
Engineering continues to be a male-dominated profession so the third NWED is a great time to address the problem. Currently, less than 10 per cent of the engineering sector’s workforce is female and yet 64 per cent of UK engineering companies report that a shortage of engineers is threatening their business.
This untapped potential could help to fill the industry skills shortage apparent in UK engineering, as well as increasing gender diversity and inclusion. “Industry experts” predict that we need to double the number of UK students studying engineering degrees. But with just 15 per cent of our engineering and technology undergraduates female, “there’s work to be done”.
Remarkably, there is little gender difference in the take-up of and achievement in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) GCSE subjects.
Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “Employers are realising that ‘female friendly’ policies, such as flexible working, go a long way to help attract women. But we also need to change young women’s (and their parents’) mind-sets to realise that engineering offers a wide range of exciting opportunities and career development. Engineers and technicians touch every part of life.
By encouraging girls into engineering careers we will not only be increasing diversity and inclusion – a business imperative – but enabling us to fill the substantial future job opportunities that have been predicted in this sector.
BSRIA is very supportive of women going into engineering and proud to be employing many female engineers itself who are flourishing.
And history has shown that those who pursue science arguably make the biggest impact to the world; incredible minds provide us with incredible ideas we once might have thought of as unbelievable but are now ingrained in our society. Engineers help make the future a reality.”
What can we do to redress the balance?
The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s new president Naomi Climer (a female!) has called for quotas to redress the balance but educators and parents also have a role to play. Outreach work with schools and colleges spreads the word, with mentor schemes enabling young women to hear (and often see) first-hand how great a job in engineering can be.
Indeed, BSRIA’s INSPIRE project running throughout 2016 includes a series of events to inspire and engage the workforce of tomorrow with what the engineering industry has to offer. INSPIRE is based around the STEM subjects.
Dr Michelle Agha-Hossein, Sustainable Building Engineer, BSRIA
What made you study the science subjects at school?
I studied maths, physics, mechanics and chemistry because I knew – even then – that I wanted to be an engineer. I was always “very good” at maths so it seemed the “natural” thing to do. Therefore, I wanted to do a subject at university that involved maths.