It’s no secret that there is a major gender diversity problem in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) specialisms. We are still struggling to find the best way to champion female engineers whilst faced with a failing education system and a UK culture that's fed on engineering stereotypes.
Female UK engineers, still only make up a small proportion of the industry. 2017, WES statistic survey, reports a 3percent uplift from previous years, however, it's still not enough. It is estimated that the UK needs an approx. 1.8 million people trained in engineering by 2025.
With the UK now reported to have the lowest proportionate number of female engineers in Europe, we finally see that things need to change especially when we look at recruitment challenges or retaining more women in engineering. Women make up half the population, so why should they not also make up half of the engineering industry?
The Government's Year of Engineering Campaign is a great initiative launched this year to widen young talent pools and celebrate everything that the industry has to offer. For the first time, the government is actually backing an exciting campaign with industry leaders who want to encourage more women and young people from all backgrounds to pursue a career or education in a majorly underrepresented industry.
Let's Champion Women Engineers.
Organisations such as ScienceGrrl, IET and WES have helped promote a more positive image of engineering to young girls. With strong impactful campaigns and inspirational female role models who demonstrate the possibilities and opportunities that STEM can open.
Last years 2017 IET's #9percentisnotenough conference, brought key industry leaders together from all sectors of Engineering, Aerospace, IT and Manufacturing. Many left the conference committed to promoting the need for gender diversity in engineering. Their actions have included:
- A formal gender diversity programme to measure and report on female recruitment and retention
- A new approach to advertising jobs in order to attract more women
- ‘Work returner’ programmes
- Mentoring and sponsorship programmes
- Career planning and flexible working
- Affinity groups and networking opportunities for women
- Promote apprenticeship and work experience programmes to girls
- Awards and initiatives to celebrate female engineering role models (such as the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards)
If we can just shake off the stereotypical image of an engineer and demonstrate how many opportunities are out there, then teaching young girls the social impact of engineering can be the way forward. Let's talk about:
- The development of prosthetic limbs
- The creation of technology that limit's the environmental impact of climate change,
- The development of Smart cities with integrated transport systems and carbon neutral industries
- AI and