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Women in Engineering: How 2018 Has Challenged Sexism in Engineering

  • by: Rebecca Fagan
  • On: 2, Oct 2018
3 min read

Recently a scientist has attracted criticism for his sexist comments during a seminar at Cern, where he said that that ‘physics was built by men.’

This comes at a time where institutional sexism is being challenged at every level. But when opinions such as the above are still vocalised, how much is actually being done to change the engineering industry?

11% of the engineering workforce is now female, up from just 9% in 2015. Sadly, the UK still has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe. We are also annually short of anywhere between 25,000 and 60,000 skilled engineering workers. We need to double the number of UK university student studying engineering. So what can be done to fix this problem?

What’s Changing for Women in Engineering?

Engineering is vital for the UK economy, contributing 26% of our GDP. Many companies are beginning to understand that this amount will only increase as more women are encouraged into the engineering sector.

This is taking root at universities, companies, and recruitment agencies, who understand the power of working together with female engineers and potential talent.

While this is a step in the right direction, change needs to come from within the culture of engineering. Assumptions and stereotypes about women need to be questioned, tackled, and dismantled. The assumption that women will perform worse in engineering roles is now being challenged at all levels, in the classroom up to the boardroom.

On a more personal level, networks of women in engineering and other STEM fields are banding together to support each other in their careers.

Three Organisations That Are Championing Women

 

  1. Black Girls Code

A not-for-profit organisation that aims to train a million young African-American girls into coding roles by 2040, Black Girls Code is a fantastic example of an ethical and practical organisation making a huge difference to lives through education. Launched in 2011, Black Girls Code has gone on to help 3,000 students. It has seven established institutions and is planning to expand into eight more cities.

  1. Wogrammer

Another initiative designed around getting young girls into coding and software development, Wogrammer delivers a powerful message in an accessible way, interviewing over 50 female engineers to tell their stories.

  1. The Women’s Engineering Society

The Women’s Engineering Society is a charity and professional network, educating and empowering women to move further in their study of engineering. The WES will turn 100 in 2019 and began to help fill the skills gap by men joining the First World War. Since then, the WES has worked to ensure that women have access to education and career opportunities, campaigning for equal rights, equal education and equal pay in a sector which remains male-dominated.

Learn more about women in engineering with our white paper, and be sure to follow The Women’s Engineering Society.

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