There is a massive gender imbalance in the field of engineering. The UK has the lowest percentage of women in engineering in Europe. Work is being done to rectify this, with the UK currently on track to have one million women working in STEM fields and industries by 2020. But even that number only makes up around 22% of the total STEM workforce, meaning much more has to be done. In 2017 a Report on the State of Engineering in the UK concluded that we still have an estimated annual skills shortfall of up to 60,000, and our engineering sector will need to have as many qualified professionals as possible to ensure a strong economy over what is certain to be a turbulent decade.
This International Women’s Day, VHR looks at how women can get into engineering, what opportunities there are, and what the sector can do to encourage more women to study and work in engineering.
But first, why are there so few women in engineering?
Why Is There Such A Gender Imbalance In Engineering?
One of the primary causes of the lack of women in engineering is how they’re taught at primary school. Maths and science are still seen by some teachers and even parents as ‘boys’ subjects, and girls aren’t encouraged to study them.
This makes a huge difference in young girls’ confidence to pursue interests in science, reflecting in the lower levels of girls taking maths and science GCSEs and A-Levels.
Even at the professional level, there is still a sub-conscious, or even conscious, bias against recruiting women into engineering firms.
How To Get Into Engineering As A Woman
Women who do study STEM subjects, or take apprenticeships, can still struggle to find work as an engineer.
Joining women in STEM social groups, having networks of professional contacts on LinkedIn, and using specialist recruitment agencies can all help women start their engineering careers.
How The Engineering Industry Can Encourage More Women To Get Involved
To truly encourage more women to join the engineering industry, the industry itself will need to change. There is a fundamental misunderstanding about how broad the field of engineering is and the impact it has on the world. Engineering impacts every aspect of our lives, and will be crucial in addressing some of the biggest challenges facing our society and our planet over the next few decades.
Studies have shown that increasing the levels of diversity in a business increases innovation, and help provide different viewpoints.