To all our female colleagues – we hope you had a fantastic International Women in Engineering Day yesterday! If you’re not already familiar with the WISE campaign, this initiative seeks to promote gender balance in science, technology and engineering, from the classroom to the boardroom.
In a previous article, we discussed the current state of gender diversity in the engineering sector. There’s still a long way to go – men in the engineering sector still far outnumber women – but we are gradually making progress. More women are becoming engineers, bringing incredible expertise and innovation. This is crucial, considering official estimates suggest we need at least 1.8 million more engineers in the UK by 2025.
Therefore, we need to keep encouraging women into engineering. To mark this date, we’ll discuss what can be done to nurture female talent in the industry. From changing the face of engineering to getting science teacher onboard, there’s much to do – but it’ll be well worth it to attract the top female talent we need.
Breaking down barriers
Despite recent gains, many women still face obstacles. For example, many academic or research roles often require extensive travel, which can be challenging for those with childcare commitments. Often, women are expected to perform a complex balancing act, which contributes to stress. This, naturally, has a knock-on effect on career progression.
The reality is, there should be more support for women in this respect. Industry leaders need to recognise that female researchers, teachers, and businesspeople have an invaluable contribution to make. Therefore, they should be supported through family commitments to ensure talent retention and the progression of this talent through the ranks.
STEM is a rewarding and thriving sector, yet many people have misconceptions about what engineering actually involves. Often, when girls think of engineering, they think of people stuck in dark labs bent over desks pouring over sums day and night. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The industry needs to promote itself as the creative vocation that it is.
Engineers solve real-world problems, with tangible results. Not many professionals get to see the impact of their work on communities, but engineers see the results every day. Take energy as just one simple example; engineers make it possible to switch on the light, turn on the TV, or charge our phones every day. Now, they’re making these simple actions more sustainable and efficient than ever.
Get schools involved
Schools, teachers and governments should work together to encourage girls to think about STEM careers. As referenced in our previous article, girls interest in engineering tends to wane as they progress through school. As educators and industry leaders, we have a responsibility to try and sustain enthusiasm.
A key strategy is to highlight the contributions that engineers make to society. By explaining how fulfilling, interesting and accessible the profession is, young women will be encouraged to pursue a career. With this talent, we can keep innovating and have an even greater impact on society – creating efficient infrastructure, better homes, and sustainable solutions.